Barb brings a unique blend of financial smarts, risk taking and entrepreneurial flair to her successive CFO roles for the State of Minnesota. She joined MNSure as CFO at the start up stage and helped shape it as a new state entity, then on to CFO of the Department of Natural Resources on her way to her current role as CFO of the MN House of Representatives. This non-traditional financial career path made Scouts curious to learn more…

Q: If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?

Baseball manager.  It was my childhood dream to be the first female baseball manager.  Baseball is a very strategic sport requiring a lot of data analysis as well as gut instinct and finally execution in the field.  While many may think baseball is boring, I enjoy it for what is not seen on the field as much as what is seen on the field.

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Learn to manage up.  You are part of team and you need to be able to see the big picture of your team, not just your role on the team.  Being able to provide ideas, options for improvement and caution when needed is critical.  In order to do this, a good relationship with your peers and management team and understanding of the big picture is critical.

Q: What is your mantra?

I have two. First, “There is a solution to every problem”.   I love a good challenge.  Doing thorough analysis, viewing issues from all sides and coming up with a proposed solution has been key in my career.

My second mantra is “Baby steps”.  Change does not come easy and you need to be very thoughtful on how to manage change.  It’s okay to approach things a step at a time as long as you continue to move in the desired direction.

Q: How do you get yourself out of a slump?

Caribou coffee treat.  If I know I need to address something I’ve been putting off, or just need that extra motivation for my day, I treat myself to a Caribou as a pre-reward.  I’m not sure why it works, but it has always done the trick.  Maybe it’s the caffeine boost that gets me moving.

Q: What companies or leaders do you admire?

Over my career I have been blessed to work with a number of great leaders in all ranks.  Leadership is not about a level of position but more about how you manage yourself in your day to day activities regardless of your position.  I admire those willing to face a challenge, fail, learn from that and try again.  I also admire those who succeed and then move on to the next challenge.

Q: What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?

I’ve worked in state government for over 30 years.  The biggest change within state government in the last 10 years has been the ability to network across state agencies to find solutions to shared problems versus operating within a silo.  The ability for agencies to become centers of excellence for other state agencies has greatly impacted how agencies can find solutions to shared problems and generate efficiencies across the state.

Q: Who has been most instrumental in your career?

There have been many.  I always look for a mentor in every position I have had.  Whether they knew they were my mentor or not, I would learn from their management style, their approach to issues, etc.

Q: What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?

Rudy-tini at Rudy’s Red Eye Grill in White Bear Lake.