While the leadership journeys of many of our CFO guests began on an upper floor of a glass-and-steel skyscraper affording a wide-angle view of a cosmopolitan metropolis, that of Blackbaud CFO Tony Boor started at street level in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Less than an hour’s drive north of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces is home not only to the main campus of New Mexico State University but also to a full schedule of holiday festivals and a varied collection of retailers—including motorcycle shops such as the one that Boor first visited in the mid-1970s.
“When I was 13 or 14 years old, I walked into a motorcycle shop to buy my first bike and they ended up hiring me to sweep floors and haul trash,” recalls Boor, who over the next 10 years segued from maintenance to the service department, to parts management, to sales management, to being general manager of the store. The article continues after player
“Thinking back now on being that young and running a business, I realize that I got a chance very early in my career to experience a firm from the other side of the desk, as I oversaw people much older than me and dealt with things like payroll, books, and accounting,” continues Boor, whose hours at the shop populated his high school and college years.
Nonetheless, in a family with a father who worked at the nearby White Sands Missile Range as a nuclear electrical engineer and other sons who were embarking on engineering careers of their own, the motorcycle shop entry on Boor’s resume did not go unnoticed.
Thus what might be surmised to have been a collective sigh of relief may have been heard when he decided to pursue an engineering degree at New Mexico State, thereby keeping safe the Boor family tradition. Or would it?
“I was actually in my senior year of college when I decided that I didn’t want to be an engineer because I knew from working in the motorcycle shop that I loved business,” reports Boor, who remembers his parents not being at all pleased that the timing of his decision was coming so “late in the game.”
“It ended up taking me a little longer to be done with school, but I did switch over to accounting,” explains Boor, who would subsequently work for a number of the original Big Eight accounting houses before stepping into the ranks of corporate finance professionals—where the same qualities that had once served him well at the bike shop appear to have propelled his climb upward.
Says Boor: “A lot of what I learned in those very early years of my life and career had a big impact on how things have gone for me, even in these finance leadership roles.” –Jack Sweeney