Ground-breaking Collaboration is Set to Redefine the Role and Expectations of the CFO Function


The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) has joined the Calhoun Discovery Program at Virginia Tech as an Industry Partner. AFP’s objective in this ground-breaking collaboration is to redefine the role and expectations of the CFO function as a strategic business partner across the enterprise by incorporating multidisciplinary thinking into the finance organization.

The multidisciplinary approach championed by the program and its founder David Calhoun, CEO of Boeing, approaches problems by considering economic viability, as well as technological feasibility, ecological and socioeconomic sustainability, and inclusive human capital development. Solutions developed through the program will address each of these four areas to ensure sustainable and equitable development.

“We are excited to welcome AFP to our team of partners,” said Thanassis Rikakis, founding director of the Calhoun Discovery Program, Virginia Tech. “From day one, Calhoun students are tasked with working in a team setting with industry mentors to address in an integrative manner technological, business and societal transformation aspects of real-world issues.”

Through this partnership, AFP and Virginia Tech have created a Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) work cell that creates opportunities for students to break down traditional academic barriers by collaborating with students from other disciplines to tackle real-world problems alongside multiple industry leaders.


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“The Calhoun Discovery Program is challenging traditional undergraduate education, which often falls short of preparing graduates for success in the real world,” said AFP’s president and CEO Jim Kaitz. “Our involvement in the program provides an opportunity for FP&A professionals to apply multidisciplinary thinking with students from engineering, industrial design, information technology, environmental policy, data analytics and other majors, as well as industry professionals from other disciplines. Through AFP’s partnership in this program, we will redefine the role and expectations of the CFO function as a strategic business partner across the enterprise and develop the resources the finance profession needs to succeed in Industry 4.0.”

AFP joins Boeing, Caterpillar, GE Appliances, GE Aviation, and other organizations as partners supporting the mission of the Calhoun Discovery Program.

To guide our participation in the program, AFP has named Loren Starr as CFO advisor. In this role, Starr will act as a liaison between AFP and participating companies to define projects for the FP&A work cell for each academic year and to assist AFP in developing resources to help the finance profession to succeed in Industry 4.0.

Starr is currently vice chair of Invesco Ltd., where he also served as CFO for nearly 15 years. Prior to Invesco, Starr was CFO of Janus Henderson Investors, and held senior finance roles with Putnam Investments, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley.

Speaking of participation, AFP is seeking companies that are willing to provide an experienced, high-performing FP&A professional to participate in the program as a visiting professor of practice. These individuals will work with students, faculty, partner organizations, and other visiting professors of practice to suggest projects for the work cell each semester and participate in project selection, as well as mentor students throughout the academic year.

The expected time commitment from each visiting professor is eight hours per month. While most work will be done remotely, visiting professors may be asked to attend an in-person kickoff each academic year, the expenses for which will be reimbursed by Virginia Tech.