I Want Her Job: The Beauty CFO Proving Finance Is More Than Crunching Numbers

mandy fields

Welcome to Byrdie's new series, I Want Her Job. We're profiling diverse, interesting women and female-identifying folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Today, get to know Mandy Fields, the Chief Financial Officer of e.l.f. Beauty. Mandy oversees all financial aspects of the beauty company as it expands its footprint in the beauty world, and is living proof that being a trailblazing CFO is so much than crunching numbers. Ahead, find out her best career advice, inspiring stories, and more.

Tell us about your background.

After earning my Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business, I started my career in Investment Banking in New York City over 15 years ago. To say that there were not many faces that looked like mine—as a woman, let alone as a woman of color—would be an understatement. That fact did not deter me from pursuing my goals that I set for myself at a young age. I wanted to be the best and therefore had to compete with the best.

After working closely with several Chief Financial Officers and taking companies public during my banking days, I realized my passion and was focused on becoming a CFO. I held several management roles in finance. I worked at The Gap Inc. under the Company’s Banana Republic brand, with most of my time leading the FP&A function; I was Vice President of Finance & Analytics for Albertsons Companies, one of the largest food and drug retailers in the U.S. And prior to joining e.l.f., I was the CFO at BevMo!, the #1 specialty beverage retailer on the West Coast, with 163 stores across California, Washington and Arizona.

Today, I am the CFO of e.l.f. Beauty, a public company where I have continued to evolve as a leader in the organization. Under my leadership and that of our amazing executive team, e.l.f. Beauty has seen positive net sales growth for the past six quarters! It makes me incredibly proud.

How did you wind up working at e.l.f. Beauty as CFO?

After covering the oil and gas industry in investment banking, I learned two things: I love finance and I didn’t care for oil and gas—so I made an effort to move into consumer. I realized early on how important it was to connect with the mission of the company on a personal level to unlock my best—and that’s exactly what I ensured happened, starting with the Gap and all the way to e.l.f. Beauty. e.l.f.’s mission of bringing the best of beauty to every eye, lip and face resonated with me on so many levels that I decided to join the company to do just that.

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of your current role? 

I oversee all financial aspects of the company, which includes financial planning and analysis, accounting, and investor relations. My team is also leads diligence for mergers and acquisitions activity and evaluates strategic extensions as we embark upon our journey to move from a single brand beauty company to a multi-brand beauty house.

Mandy fields
Mandy Fields 

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about being a CFO?  

That you get to do more than just crunch the numbers. As a CFO, you get to see everything that goes on in the business, which actually makes the role very dynamic. If you think it’s all about calculators and Excel spreadsheets, you are definitely mistaken!

What’s the most fun or fulfilling part of your job? 

I love working in beauty, particularly here at e.l.f. There is something so empowering about helping your consumer feel beautiful both on the inside and out. e.l.f. stands with every eye, lip and face—and fulfilling that mission of inclusivity every day is very rewarding.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?  

The most challenging part of my job is finding the hours in the day to get everything done while balancing my CFO role, being a mom to two boys, a wife, and so many other things. 

What’s the project you’re most proud of doing in your career? 

I am really proud of the way we treated our employees during this COVID-19 pandemic. Our first priority was the health and safety of our employees and community. We sent safety kits with gloves, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes to all employees and provided assistance with other needs. We have given employees days off for a Wellness Day. We have fun in Zoom—dressing up in costumes and inviting our kids and pets to join in—and we extended our Summer Fridays through the remainder of the calendar year, at the request of one of our employees. Now beginning at 2 p.m. local time for our team, they can take the afternoon to decompress, relax, and recharge

What’s the most interesting story from your career?  

I went for a promotion the month before I went on maternity leave with my first son. I find that sometimes, women won’t move forward with pursuing opportunities if they are having kids, or if they don’t feel qualified for the role. To that I say, “Throw out that thinking!” You can have kids, pursue your career goals, and be very successful with both. A lot of people in my position would not have pursued a new role, let alone a step-up role at eight months pregnant, but I did—I got it and I came back from maternity leave ready to roll! 

How do you stay motivated and positive during stressful times at work?

I stay positive during stressful times because I know that what I’m doing is blazing a path for another young person, woman, person of color, etc. to follow in my footsteps. I think a lot about my kids and the example I’m setting for them, and I want them to know you can really overcome anything you set your mind to. I also think about our employees, who for example, we just navigated through the early days of COVID-19. It was quite an uncertain time this spring, but we held hands and made it through together.

mandy fields
 Mandy Fields

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty is being yourself—there’s not a better person that can be you and that’s a beautiful thing!

What advice or words of encouragement do you have for anyone looking to break into your field?

My advice for all aspiring leaders is to: stay focused on what you want to achieve, regardless of what others believe and regardless of other challenges you may need to overcome. Hard work, strong performance and supportive mentors will help pave the path for you to get there. If you believe you can achieve it, no one can take your dream away from you. 

I think it is important for women coming in at the C-suite to be supportive of other women. We are the trailblazers that can open doors that have not previously been opened before. When you can open a door, and make a connection, it has the power to change the direction of someone’s life.

You’ve said before: “I am a firm believer that women need to tout their accomplishments. Don’t be shy.” Why do you think it’s important for women to be vocal about their successes? 

Women should not be afraid to tout their accomplishments. I believe very strongly that you need to get out there and share your story. You are your own greatest cheerleader, and it is up to you to network and let others know what you have achieved. Nobody can be a better you than you, so you need to own it.

Do you think women in C-suite positions have a responsibility to open doors for other women?

I think it is important for women coming in at the C-suite to be supportive of other women. We are the trailblazers that can open doors that have not previously been opened before. When you can open a door, and make a connection, it has the power to change the direction of someone’s life.

What do you think the beauty industry can do better when it comes to diversity and representation? 

I believe that across all industries the conversations, education, donations and support need to continue, which requires personal commitment. I feel fortunate that I am in a position where I can impact positive change and provide a safe place where our employees can speak freely and have their voices heard. I can influence the circles that I’m in and so can you. Take the first step, have a conversation, educate yourself on these issues, exercise your right to vote, and we’ll start to see the change we’re fighting for in this country.

What are your five favorite beauty products of the moment?

e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer, e.l.f. + Matte Blotting Powder, W3LL People Expressionist Mascara, e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil, Olaplex haircare.

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