Walsh College

Applauding Alumni: Christine Potempa, MSA '88

Christine Potempa serves at the Chief Financial Officer for Auburn Pharmaceuticals in Auburn Hills, MI.  As a chief executive and long-time employee, she has witnessed many changes in various industries, including pharmacy, finance, and leadership.  As a leader both personally and professionally, Christine shares her sound advice. This interview reflects the lessons she has learned:

 

I graduated over 25 years ago with a Master's in Accountancy.  Where did those years go?

 

When I started Walsh I was working for the Handleman Company where I rotated through several departments:  accounting, cash management and internal audit. Like many Walsh students I worked full-time and went to classes in the evening and on Saturday. No online classes and internet back then.  If you missed a class - you had to copy someone's notes. Bring lots of dimes.

None the less it was a great way to learn time management.

 

Later I went to work for the Kaufman Financial Company, a public company, where I was an accounting manager and did SEC reporting.   Those accounting classes really made sense now. Neal Zalenko, a Walsh College supporter/trustee was on the board of directors of the Kaufman Financial Company.  Little did I know that he would become my sounding board/mentor for over three decades.

 

When it was my time to move on, he introduced me to my current employer Auburn Pharmaceutical, which was a start-up pharmaceutical distributor in 1993.  I started the day we shipped our first order and I'm still here!  Yes, I do say "we" - it is a team effort.  Everyone's job is important - and we acknowledge that regularly.

 

I started as Controller, and 23 years later, am now the CFO of $100 million company. 

 

It was, and is, a constant learning experience.  When I didn't know, I just asked a lot of questions.  It is challenging and interesting, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

 

Thinking back probably one of the hardest things I had to do though was give tasks away so I could concentrate on things that were more important as the Company grew. I think it is natural to feel we can do them better, but in truth with training and guidance, tasks can be transferred and employees developed. As managers it is our responsibility to develop employees, give them the tools to succeed, and the Company to succeed. 

 

Several years ago, Mr. Zalenko introduced me to Audrey Olmstead who suggested I might be interested in becoming more involved with the college.  Now I am happily on the Walsh Wine Gala Committee which raises funds for student scholarships.  It's fun and rewarding and aligns perfectly with my realization that it is time to give back. 

 

Ms. Potempa enjoys travel, golf, her family, and planning special events.

 

Thank you Christine for sharing your wonderful story.  Walsh College applauds your leadership and achievements. 





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