Friday, November 1, 2019

Meet UVAFinance's AVP for Financial Strategy

Bill Ashby joined the UVAFinance team in late September as Associate Vice President for Financial Strategy. This is a new role,not only adding a senior leadership position focused on strategy, but also as technological advances increasingly automate transactional work, creating opportunities for the development of analytical and “soft” skills within our workforce. Globally, companies are investing heavily in learning and development for employees, as new “hybrid jobs” blending technical experience with research skill, problem-solving skills, teamwork, and creativity become more prevalent, UVA Finance is moving in this direction too.

In the role of AVP for Financial Strategy in UVAFinance, Ashby will prioritize ensuring that Finance delivers on its promise of high-quality service delivery that keeps the business of UVA running like clockwork, while at the same time carving out time to launch efforts that position UVA to be forward-looking, anticipating trends, new directions, and getting ahead of the curve.

“In higher education, the norm in operational areas is to be focused on the day-to-day, but if we can truly build a culture that embraces a forward-looking mindset and celebrates trailblazing we’re going to be unique and more valuable to the University as a whole,” says Ashby.

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UVAFinance, in the midst of an extensive transformation effort, presents a unique challenge and opportunity for a financial strategist, and that’s the very thing that attracted Ashby to the role. Even at the outset of his career, Ashby had an interest in blending his interest in student life with operational expertise and the underlying business of higher education.

“The pattern I recognized after 30 years in my career, is that for me, success and fulfillment often means stepping into organizations reaching some type of inflection point,” he explains.

In his career path, these “inflection points” have involved transitioning a small campus gymnasium at Cal Poly into one of the first multimillion-dollar, state of the art student recreation centers, stepping into the Director of Business Services role at Cal Poly on the heels of an embezzlement scandal and rebuilding trust and credibility, and helping get the Batten School off the ground and seeing the student body and faculty grow and live up to the vision and expectations of the donor who funded it and the University community.

His experience has shown him that these times of great challenge often present remarkable opportunities if they’re leveraged correctly. For him it’s mindset and imagination that make a difference in what might be perceived by many as intractable problems.

As for UVAFinance, Ashby says it feels like the organization is “on the launching pad,” poised for something great.

“The spirit here is great, the energy high,” he says.

“There’s a strong sense of purpose; people understand that our work matters. I’m grateful to be a part of this community and to play a significant role in helping us and the institution reach our vision and full potential.”

Ashby and his wife Debbie have lived in Charlottesville for 18 years. They have 3 sons: Nick, 19, Zach, 17, and Alex, 12. Their dog Boomer rounds out the family.

You can read more about Ashby in the Online Finance Community on Community Hub. 

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