Alumni profile: William Bousquette '58, '62
Ethics, social intelligence essential to CFO success
William Bousquette '58, '62 credits his University of Detroit experience with providing him with a jump start in his business career. Bousquette remembers, "Having had the benefits of an IHM education at St. Charles Borromeo in Detroit, I looked forward to a college education in the Jesuit tradition. Further, the ability to take business courses in my first semester facilitated finding a position in accounting after my first year. This was rewarding from both a financial and an experiential perspective."
He received a solid grounding in ethics from the Jesuits, who occupied many of the leadership roles and several teaching positions at the University. "There have been many occasions when that background served me well," says Bousquette. "Experiences in and out of class, at Mass, and the total environment on campus fostered ethical behavior. It was a very positive experience, and I am proud and thankful that I had a Jesuit education."
Bousquette combined his summa cum laude degree with his ethics and communications and social skills to achieve a career that included senior financial roles at Ford Motor Company and Rockwell International as well as CFO positions at Emerson Electric Co. and Tandy Corporation. His career culminated in his 1997 retirement as the chief financial officer of Texaco, Incorporated.
Bousquette advises today's students to seize every opportunity to speak before groups. He notes that "proficiency in your field of study is mandatory, and clearly you need strong ethics, but you also must have the ability to communicate effectively. You may have great ideas but if you are unable to express them in a compelling fashion, they may not go very far. I cannot overstress good communication skills."
He also emphasizes the importance of social intelligence, especially for aspiring CFOs. "Clearly you have the role of the scorekeeper who often must deliver the bad news to others about their proposals or performances," says Bousquette. This must be accomplished in a manner that enables you to remain a viable team member. It's all about understanding others' feelings and motivations. It is easy to get buried in the numbers, but the most successful financial professionals have excellent social skills."