CPFO Spotlight: Sumitra Potharazu

Sumitra Potharazu, Ph.D., MBA, CPFO, is Finance Manager for the Fox River Valley Public Library District.

Photo of Sumitra.

1. Why did you want to become a CPFO? 

I already had an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago. I was looking for some formal and rigorous training in government finance to transition to a leadership role in this sector. The CPFO credential is well recognized in the public sector. After going through the candidate’s guide and asking around, and seeing that it is worth the effort, I decided to go for it.

2. What did you learn going through the process? 

The resources were amazing. From a journal entry to accrue payroll — to designing and implementing internal controls based on the well-known COSO framework — to analyzing investments and managing cash flows — to better understanding risk management — to tapping into other resources like NIGP best practices — to adapting GFOA best practices in all areas, especially budgeting and planning, to my workplace, I learnt a lot and built much more on what I already knew. In the process, I looked at IRS forms and DOL fact sheets that I wouldn’t otherwise have had to, and I am glad I did have that opportunity to do so.

3. How has becoming a CPFO made an impact on you in your profession?  

I have come a long way since the first day of my life as a public finance manager, which was not very long ago. Finance is like the blood flow in our body, connecting everything, enabling every action. I am a big picture person, and becoming a CPFO has given me the wherewithal to come up with the big picture in the absence of one so that better strategic decisions impacting the long term can be made for the government organization. I am looking forward to do much in public finance.

4. What would you say to others thinking about becoming a CPFO? 

It is absolutely the best investment in yourself, your career, and your organization. The training that comes with this program is quite vital for any finance role you may currently be performing—accounting or treasury or general financial management. You will develop a good sense of related departments like procurement or compensation and benefits. You will be able to manage risk better for your government. In short, you will develop a good intuition for public finance and be infinitely better at managing finances in public sector.

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