Curiosity has always been at the heart of Steve Harding ’84’s career. Just after graduating from Texas A&M University with a business degree in accounting and management, he took a job in audit at KPMG Peat Marwick to learn about as many different businesses as possible. Later he took his inquisitiveness with him as he moved into the corporate real estate industry and held controller positions at privately held commercial and residential real estate companies, where he became interested in understanding the financial impact of engineering decisions in buildings such as the Dallas and Houston Gallerias, and finally to his current role as a chief financial officer.
As CFO at Transwestern, a comprehensive knowledge of the business is a no-brainer: Harding oversees all financial matters of the company and its affiliates, including accounting and reporting, cash management and forecasting, and internal audit. He also oversees project accounting and the development of national standards and policies for financial projects undertaken in the regions.
But, as he explained in a conversation with Business Honors students at Mays, intellectual curiosity isn’t enough to help him succeed – he’s also deeply interested in learning more about people to help them in their own endeavors. “I work in a people-centered business and my job, at its core, is servant leadership. I have to ensure everyone have the resources and people they need to do their job better.”
He shared some of his keys to success for working with others:
- Always ask/think – how can I help you?
- Empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes
- Understand the business drivers in every deal and the motivation of each party
- Create win-win opportunities…not win-lose
- Have a sense of humor
- Live the Golden Rule