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2014 CFO of the Year: Janet Allaby

December 5, 2014

Janet Allaby
Senior Vice President of Finance,
Chief Financial Officer,
YMCA of Greater Indianapolis
allaby-janet-4-15col.jpg (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis offers many opportunities for the public to get in shape. Under Janet Allaby’s tenure, the YMCA has gotten itself in fiscal shape.

Since she joined the Y in her current role in 1995, assets have grown from $25 million to about $92 million. In the same span, revenue rose from $14 million to $48 million. Of the 30 largest YMCAs in the country, the Greater Indianapolis branch has the strongest balance sheet.

After graduating from the University of Arizona, Allaby worked for Ernst & Young as an audit supervisor before trucking to Mayflower Transit, where she signed on as a manager but rose to vice president and controller.

“At some point,” she recalled, “I wanted to do something other than work for industry. I wanted to work for a company where I had some affinity for the mission.”

allaby-box.gifAllaby herself was not a member of the Y before joining the team. But she quickly assessed its challenges. Struggling financially, it had experienced little growth over the prior decades.

“YMCAs tended to grow singly—go out and raise money, maybe find several lead donors, and then build a Y,” she said.

With that model not working, Allaby and her teams (10 in finance, 12 on the investment committee) saw an opportunity in forging creative partnerships. The result: five new facilities—the first of which came about in 1997 by partnering with the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority to renovate a former army fitness center.

Allaby later provided oversight for financing, constructing and equipping a facility in Fishers. She also helped merge the Boone County Y with the Greater Indianapolis Y while bringing in Witham Health Services to create the Witham Family YMCA.

In addition, Allaby negotiated with the Athenaeum Foundation to continue a long-term commitment, solidified the agreement that led to the Indy Bike Hub Y at City Market, built the Avondale Meadows Y, and developed the financing plan for the now-under-construction CityWay YMCA.

“The volunteers and the board make the ultimate decisions,” she said, “but as part of the leadership staff, I get to be at the table when we’re starting to talk about opportunities.”

She added: “We have to do a lot with a little, and that means watching costs.” Her team reviews all the financials for each center, from staffing to towels. “We do budgets yearly and expect people to live by them. If a center is getting into trouble, we dive in.”

Allaby was instrumental in creating a director of purchasing and risk management position, which is credited with yielding several hundred thousand dollars in savings.

She likes working collaboratively.

“I try to listen and try to encourage people to come up with ideas. I like to bounce ideas off of [co-workers] and vice versa. At some point, I have to make the decision, though.

“If you can explain to me why I need to do something, I’m better able to do it. That’s what I try to do with other people: Explain what I need and why I need it.”

To read other CFO of the Year profiles, please click here.

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