Agilent’s Schaefer has the world in his sights

Filed under: One on One |

Jerry Schaefer is director of global financial services for Agilent Technologies.

In a growing age of globalism, it’s becoming more common for corporations down the street from your house to oversee operations around the planet.

Jerry Schaefer works for one of those corporations, Agilent Technologies. He is the director of Agilent Global Financial Services, and keeps an eye on Agilent’s financial offerings around the world from here in Colorado Springs.

When his focus is not on business matters overseas, it’s at home – where he invests time mentoring the city’s young people.

Schaefer took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his business.

Organization: Agilent Technologies Inc.

Position: Director of Agilent Global Financial Services and general manager for the Colorado Springs site.

Hometown: Born and raised in Baltimore, Md.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: In Colorado since 1992 (Loveland) and in Colorado Springs since 1995

Education: University of Southern California, master’s degree in business administration; University of Maryland, Baltimore County, bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics.

A few words about your company: Agilent is the world’s largest test and measurement company, serving customers in more than 110 countries.

Recent accomplishments: When Agilent separated from HP in 1999, I was selected to create the worldwide financial services function. We transformed from just “getting the job done” (payables, receivables, general accounting, etc.) to a globally recognized financial shared services organization.

Biggest career break: My first eight years with HP were in information technology with a lot of support provided to the accounting and finance. The financial reporting manager job became available and the controller took a chance on moving an IT guy into this lead finance role.

The toughest part of your job: Providing services globally requires rationalization of where services are provided, and often requires downsizing. It is important to treat people with dignity and respect while having open and honest communication with them about staffing reductions.

Someone you admire: My older brother, Jim. He was in an automobile accident at age 21 and became a quadriplegic. I became a primary caregiver to him for the next 10 years. I admired his courage in the face of great adversity, how he made other people comfortable and at ease when he interacted with him, and how much he deeply appreciated the help and friendship of others.

About your family: I met my wife, Yvonne, 22 years ago while I was working at HP in Maryland and she was a registered nurse at the National Institutes of Health. We were married a year later. My son Edward is a sophomore at Colorado State University. My daughter Susan is a senior in the Palmer High School International Baccalaureate program. My son Charles is a sophomore at Shattuck-St Mary’s high school in Faribault, Minn.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: I will be leaving Agilent at the end of January and will be starting fresh on a new opportunity yet to be decided. I’d like to remain in Colorado Springs if the right opportunity presents itself.

How your business will change in the next decade: Shared services will see a greater movement toward the integration of the service delivery of IT, finance, human resources, procurement and other services necessary to a business, but not core to the corporate value proposition.

What book are you currently reading? “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. I just finished “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and “The 5 People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? A metro system that would service the city and the growth to the east. While the short-term financials may not support it, we should be taking the longer view to keep the city vibrant.