Coworking Jilinda Crowley

She’s the CFO of magniX
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· 4 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and others in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. Let us know if you are—or you know—a CFO we should interview.

Jilinda Crowley is the CFO of magniX, a private equity-backed company designing and developing electric motors for electric aircraft based in Everett, Washington. Crowley spent 14 years at Rolls Royce in a variety of finance roles.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How has the role of CFO changed over the course of your career?

It is much broader now and it is less CPA-focused. I’d say when I first started that felt like a real impediment, particularly for British companies because their expectation was if you work in finance, you have a CPA and I didn’t. Increasingly, the CFO role is so much more strategic, and so much more hands-on, and so much broader than it used to be.

In the old days, the CFO’s job was to report the numbers, file taxes, and that was kind of it. These days, in my view, it’s a much more strategic role. It’s about guiding the strategy, the direction of the business and can be much broader than it previously used to.

So I’m responsible for business development at magniX, which is a totally new territory for me, not a space that I’ve worked in before. At first, it felt a little bit uncomfortable. But again, it’s one of those areas where an MBA is better training for that type of work.

What’s your advice for a young finance professional looking for their first CFO job? How do they prepare for their first day as a CFO?

I think it’s good to take lateral moves. That was something that I did a lot early in my career. At the time, I didn’t like it. I thought, “Oh my gosh, other people are moving further ahead than I am and moving up faster.” But a lot of those lateral moves helped me to get a good foundation in a lot of different areas. Then once I moved into that CFO role, I thought, “I’m so glad that I had that experience early on in my career doing, A, B, or C.”

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I worked in internal audit, I worked in purchasing, I worked in your basic FP&A role. I had a lot of lateral moves that then really helped me when I moved into more senior roles. I felt a lot more prepared.

I think you’ll always have those holes in your résumé. But the more senior you get, the harder it gets to fill those holes, right? Because once you’re at a very senior level of a company, it’s hard to then go back and take an entry-level M&A role, for example.

What’s your biggest concern as a CFO in 2023?

I suspect a lot of CFOs are super worried about the economy and the uncertainty that we’re facing today. That’s on our mind. This is a disruptive new technology and my biggest worry is making sure that we are positioning ourselves, both in terms of the products and the pricing that we’re offering, right in this very disruptive marketplace.

We’re a really passionate group of people who are excited about decarbonizing aviation. But as CFO, my job is to make sure that what we’re developing makes good commercial sense and that there’s going to be a good market for it, that our costs match what the market will bear from a pricing perspective. So making sure that all the excitement and passion is in a direction that’s going to be commercially strong.

What’s your favorite piece of personal technology?

My son has an Oculus and it’s super fun. I love it. It completely transforms you from where you are to whatever that game is. I can’t say that I use it that often. But it’s really fun and really cool. I think there are a lot of different ways that we’re all going to be using that kind of technology in the future. I don’t know what they are going to be, but it’s absolutely amazing.

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CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.