5 Minutes With... | April 12, 2018
Tony Brausen, CFO Mosaic
Tony’s current role as CFO at Mosaic is just the latest in his career as a strategic leader in global and complex organizations. How he manages to juggle high profile challenging career roles, find time for boards, teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas and his hidden rocker talent made Scouts curious to learn more…
Q: If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?
A: Professional baseball player or a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band. I have been a baseball player and Twins fan since before I was able to pronounce “Harmon Killebrew” and a Springsteen fan nearly as long. Last Saturday, I sang “Glory Days” on stage with the E-Street band drummer, “Mighty Max” Weinberg at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. The latent rocker in me came out, although my hair was the shortest of anyone on stage….
Q: What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?
A: The crop nutrient industry is much more complicated than it appears to be from the outside. I thought it would take no more than a year to a year and a half to learn the business – now several years later, I feel like I am still learning. It’s part mining, part chemical manufacturing, and operates in the complex global agriculture marketplace. It’s complex but engaging, as the products truly help the world grow the food it needs.
Q: What is your mantra?
A: Good leaders should determine the “who,” partner with their team members to determine the “what,” and get out of the way (other than to help clear obstacles) on the “how.”
Q: How do you get yourself out of a slump?
A: I rarely, if ever, am in a slump. I am a very positive person by nature, and typically operate with the “glass 3/4 full.”
Q: What companies or leaders do you admire?
A: I have had the pleasure of working with many excellent leaders over the course of my career. I hesitate to name one or two of them.
Q: What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?
A: Mosaic is in a cyclical business. We have just been through a nearly 3-year long down part of the cycle that was extremely challenging. But, as I often tell my team, if it were easy, they wouldn’t need us. During the downcycle, we took the opportunity to make a major acquisition at a great price, and to take some important actions that significantly improved our cost structure and capital expenditure management. These actions have strengthened the company for the future.
Q: Who has been most instrumental in your career?
A: My Mom, who as a single parent with limited income worked 80+ hours per week to help me reach my ambitions. Also, my wife and two (now adult) daughters. I have learned much from being a parent that I have been able to apply in my work life.
Q: What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?
A: I try to take two-week vacation each year. I have learned that you only truly disconnect for 2–3 days during a one-week vacation, but can disconnect for 9–10 days during a two-week vacation. It leaves me refreshed, recharged and excited to return to work.