Leadership Q&A: Moonsun Park– Not your average CFO
Our latest edition of our Simply Smarter Leadership Q&A series features our Chief Financial Officer, Moonsun Park. A recent recipient of the 2021 NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business, Moonsun talks about some of her greatest accomplishments in a career that has spanned more than two decades, as well as key advice for women starting out their careers.
Q: What are some of your key roles and responsibilities at Sharp?
A: As CFO of Sharp Electronics Corporation, I oversee all finance functions, including general accounting, consolidation and reporting, financial planning & analysis, treasury, tax, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. I also have responsibility for facilities and procurement across the US.
Q: Your day-to-day role as a CFO is distinct from what many employees at Sharp work on regarding display and MFP technologies. Share with us some common misconceptions about the role.
A: That all I work on is numbers all day! While the financial aspect is certainly a major component of what I do as CFO, I’m also fortunate enough to have a seat at the table with the rest of the company’s leadership in helping to come up with our overall strategic business direction and work through tough decisions to steer our company forward. This often includes thinking through how business activity will be conducted in years to come and what will be the financial role in payments, consumption models and even flexible work environments. I promise finance isn’t just a necessary evil!
Q: You’ve been with Sharp for 23 years! Tell us about your biggest challenges or most satisfying accomplishments in more than two decades with the company.
A: Certainly nothing has compared to the turbulent COVID period we’ve been living through since the first quarter of 2020. One of our biggest challenges has been pivoting to make our offices safer, while safeguarding our finances during such a difficult economic time. Even though business was hard for everyone, we were able to fund various new customer support initiatives and outpaced our competitors in performance. I’m happy to report we ended 2020 with over 20% market share growth, which is no small task considering the environment we were all in.
Q: What advice do you give young women just starting their careers?
A: As an Asian woman, working for a Japanese company, many would assume that societal norms and customs would make advancement to senior levels too difficult, or impossible. These assumptions can deter some women, or result in reluctance, in anticipation of the resistance that might await them. I would advise young women to never allow the fact that they are a woman to be used against them, whether imposed by others or through self-doubt. I fully understand the challenges that women face. I have faced many examples in my own life. However, there are no boundaries for those who are willing to work hard and who aspire to advance in their careers.
A recent New York Times article reported that only 6 percent of board seats at Japanese companies are held by women. These companies, like many in the U.S., will be making a conscious effort to improve these statistics over the next decade. If you can prove your value to the company, being a woman may be an advantage one day!
Q: What impact do you want to have on your industry or change you want to see or make happen?
A: I am the co-chair and co-founder of a women’s resource group at Sharp, Women Influencing Sharp’s Evolution (WISE). WISE provides professional development for women and men, social events for women to network, and meetings where important discussions can take place in a safe environment. Often, men easily bond over sports and going out to lunch (pre-COVID), but women may not have these opportunities. I am proud of what the group has accomplished to date and look forward to seeing a new organization of varied faces in future meetings.
Q: Tell us about some of your extracurricular activities outside of work.
A: Giving back to the community through service and contributions has always been a priority. I have, through my church and various other organizations, been able to participate in a number of initiatives that have benefitted communities in the U.S. and abroad. I participated in the building of a church in the Dominican Republic, which is now the gathering place for a large community within San Pedro de Macoris. Sharing the physical work of building, and more importantly our stories and faith, created strong bonds that still exist after many years.
I have always had a heart for helping others and have volunteered for various organizations. The most pressing need in my mind is getting food and/or shelter to those who are in need. I have planted and harvested crops at MEVO farms, donated to Table to Table, built homes in Paterson, NJ through Habitat for Humanity and worked in the Trenton food pantry, over the years. I feel blessed with my current situation and want to share with others, especially children, who have basic needs that are not met.
Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: People are always surprised when I tell them that as a CFO, I was not an Accounting major in college. I went to Tufts University and studied International Relations as an undergrad, which required fluency in Spanish and Japanese, and included studies at the university and abroad. I grew up speaking Korean at home and English in school, and with the additional languages that were a part of the International Relations major, I speak four languages (some much better than others). I graduated college during an economic downturn and few companies were looking for someone with language skills. I was always good at math, so knowing that the only guarantees in life are “death and taxes,” I decided to go back to school to get my MBA in Accounting. I love my CFO job at Sharp and use my language skills both in the office and in my other passion of traveling abroad.