The 2016 National CFO Photo Contest saw the greatest number of entrants ever: 50. Shawn Nicholas, CFO at the Trabon Group, received the most number of votes and is this year's winner. When he's not working hard at Trabon, he spends as much time as he can with his family, particularly his grandchildren.
Shawn graciously took time out of his day to tell us a bit about himself, his professional role and why he makes it a priority to enjoy time with his family members outside the office.
Tell us about your professional background.
I received my accounting degree from Baylor University and started my career in public accounting in Kansas City. I have held various accounting and finance positions with U.S. and European based companies over the last 30 years. While in the seafood and poultry industry, I served as the Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance Chairman (2009) and on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association (2012). I currently am the Chief Financial Officer of the Trabon Group.
What is Trabon, and what do you do there?
Trabon is the leading marketing services and technology provider to the U.S. restaurant industry. I am a member of a tremendously talented management team that leads and directs the business. The business is family owned by Tim Trabon, who took over the business while in high school when his father passed away, out of the basement of his house. I have worked with class acts throughout my career but Tim takes the cake. A lot of companies talk about their commitment to their associates and their families but Tim lives it every day. His care for our clients and concern for our associates sets the culture of our business every day. I am proud to serve alongside him and such a talented management team.
Your winning hobby is spending time with your grandchildren. Tell us about them, and why you enjoy it so much.
My wife and I have four sons and three grandchildren. All of them are the joys of our lives. Our grandchildren are Harper, Jack and Noah. Needless to say, the only girl in our family, besides my lovely wife and beautiful daughter-in-laws, is Harper, and she receives a lot of attention. She lives in Texas and one of our favorite things to do is to visit her (and her brother Noah). I happened to be in Dallas on business when she visited me in my hotel room and we took the picture that I submitted to the CFO contest.
How important is it for CFOs to make time to do fun things off the clock?
For most CFOs, we do what we do in order to support and spend time with our families. Like most CFOs, it is virtually impossible to completely disconnect from our concerns for our businesses, but I treasure the times that I am with my family and our children’s families. Most recently we were on Dauphin Island (the coast of Alabama) together.
What is one thing that would surprise most people about you?
My faith is extremely important to me, and I owe the blessings in my life to God. Hopefully that is not a surprise to many. Otherwise, I’m not being the man God called me to be. From passing the CPA exam in one sitting to my entire career with great companies like Huhtamaki, Baader and now Trabon, the man I work for, Tim Trabon, and my entire family, I owe to God’s hand on my life.
How does it feel to be the grand prize winner of the CFO Contest?
I am thrilled to be the grand prize winner of the CFO contest. I want to thank Austin Delimont, Manager within the Kansas City CBIZ office, who encouraged me to participate this year, and all of the Trabon associates and their families who supported me during the contest. Like I previously said, I am blessed with a tremendous family at home and at Trabon.