Rob Young remembers that back in 2001, when he joined the incoming class of newbie accountants at KPMG’s Short Hills, New Jersey, office, there was a 5- to 6-year age difference between his KPMG classmates and himself.
“It was a situation where a 23-year-old was telling me what to do, but at the same time, they had more experience than I then did,” comments Young, whose arrival inside the public accounting realm stands as a professional milestone rarely found on the resume of our CFO guests.Read More
Turn back the clock, and Young, a high school graduate, is proudly receiving an apprenticeship qualification to work as a construction journeyman. Over the next 4 years, he would join a union and oversee a variety projects, while at the same time learning to manage people and the expectations of others.
Having started a family and enjoyed some early career success, Young found that a growing sense of purpose led him to enroll in night school for a 2-year college program—where he made an impression on an accounting professor.
“Nobody sat in the front row, so I sat there—I’m raising my hand and answering questions, and that intrigued him,” explains Young, who credits the professor with being the most consequential mentor of his finance career.
For starters, the educator helped Young to apply his maturing business acumen to writing business plans for the Small Business Administration—a stint that eventually paid well enough to enable him to forfeit his construction pay. When Young eventually completed his 2-year degree, Rutgers University offered him a full scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree, provided that he attend full-time.
“I could have taken another 6 years to go part-time and pay the way myself or gone full-time and just gotten it done,” comments Young, who subsequently accepted the scholarship, graduated from Rutgers, passed the CPA exam, and joined KPMG.
As it turned out during his early days at KPMG, the father of two and newly minted CPA once more found himself experiencing a sense of purpose, this time amidst his newfound generation gap.
Reports Young: “It was somewhat humbling—but it taught me to manage up.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about the National Geographic Society … how has this organization changed?
Young: What people do know about the Society is that it’s a very old organization. It was actually started in 1888. It’s always been a nonprofit organization, even from its formation, even though it hasn’t always perform as one due to its bunch of media assets, the magazine, the TV. Now there are apps, there are photographs, there are all sorts of things.
In 2015, the organization decided to sell its media assets to 21st Century Fox, with whom they already had had a relationship through putting media platforms out there. They paid us a nice sum of money to go into our endowment, which instantly put it at over a billion dollars. We still own the yellow border as a brand. They license this from us if they need it, so we get a license fee for it.Read More
We own outright the buildings that you see in Washington DC.. We rent space out to the employees, in a manner of speaking. When the split happened, the National Geographic Society kept its name. The new operating entity became National Geographic Partners, of which the National Geographic Society owns 27% and 21st Century Fox, 73%. Disney has since bought 21st Century Fox, so Disney now owns 73% of National Geographic Partners. So, we’re partners with Disney in this entity.
Thus, if you see the National Geographic Society logo on Disney+ or things that Disney promotes, this is because we are in a partnership with National Geographic Partners, which is a for-profit organization. We get distribution payments from this partnership. There’s a lot of revenue that comes into the Society from this partnership.
National Geographic Society | www.nationalgeographic.com | Washington DC