Source: Greater Knoxville Business Journal | Kay Brookshire | November 2, 2015
Phil Andrews joined 10,000 applicants for 300 jobs with Boeing when the aerospace industry giant opened a facility in Oak Ridge nearly 35 years ago. At 24, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee and a few years of work experience, Andrews was among the 300 hired.
Andrews’ 27-year career with Boeing began with a staff accountant job, where his introduction to the company was in a smoke-filled mobile home that served as his office for the first few months, near Boeing headquarters in Seattle. Back in Oak Ridge, he held positions of increasing responsibility before being named plant manager and CEO, a position he had held in an acting capacity twice previously.
“I always had an affinity for business. I had a great opportunity at Boeing to not be pigeonholed as a finance guy, and that, I think, has been a huge factor in my career,” Andrews says.
His Boeing career ended in 2007 when the company closed its Oak Ridge operation, “which was probably the right (decision) for the company, but difficult for me,” he says. “I had opportunities to go to Seattle and Salt Lake City and other places. I had an 11 year old and an 8 year old and didn’t want to pull them out of school. I didn’t want to leave the area.”
He didn’t have to. Andrews found a new opportunity at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a nonprofit consortium of 115 universities supporting the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies in science, education, workforce development, national security, and health and the environment.
Former ORAU CEO Ron Townsend, now a Battelle vice president, hired Andrews in 2007 as vice president of business operations and chief financial officer. His proven leadership at Boeing and his involvement in the business community made him an attractive candidate, Townsend says.
“Phil Andrews played a key strategic and operational role in expanding the business volume of ORAU during my tenure,” Townsend wrote in supporting Andrews’ nomination as CFO of the Year. “In the relatively short time that Phil and I worked together, he was instrumental in helping us grow ORAU to a business of $250 million in annual revenue. This represented an annual growth rate of about 10 percent. He did this in part by aggressively controlling indirect costs that made ORAU more competitive.”
Current ORAU President and CEO Andy Page adds that Andrews has managed the financial aspects of ORAU’s dramatic revenue growth from $230 million in 2007 to more than $380 million in 2014, representing unprecedented growth of about 60 percent. The revenue projection for 2015 is nearly $400 million, ORAU’s best year ever, Page adds.
“Overall, Phil’s uncanny ability to see the big picture and strategically plan accordingly has shaped ORAU’s overall growth,” Page says. “He possesses the vision and passion to not only keep finances on track, but also to continuously improve.”
Andrews said he has joked with his CEO that in most organizations of its size, CFO is a full-time job. As vice president of business operations, Andrews is also responsible for procurement, contracts administration, facilities, transportation, communications, marketing and public relations.
“I have really good people managing all those functions,” he says. “So it frees me to be the CFO and do things that only the CFO can do.”
He credits the good teams and people who surround him at work as key to his career. “It’s the only way you are ultimately successful,” he adds.
The broad perspective that his business operations responsibilities bring, added to his finance duties, make the job enjoyable, he says.
“One day, I’m here talking about building a new building. The next day we are talking about a public-relations campaign. … The next day we’ve got a financial issue, and the next day, a new contract we have to figure out how to execute. So you get all that richness and diversity of activity even in a day.”
Boeing gave him experience in the private sector and in the federal government, not-for-profit sector that prepared him well for his ORAU position.
“When you really get down to it, business is business,” Andrews says. “You have all the same basic needs that drive all those interactions. They want you to be good stewards of their assets. They want you to demonstrate the expertise and credibility in managing programs. They want you to be responsive. They want all the same things: on-time delivery, fair and reasonable cost, high quality products and services. It’s always the same challenge, ultimately.”
“We are very mindful of everything that a for-profit company is mindful of, but that is not our primary purpose for being. Our primary purpose for being is our mission,” Andrews says.
While Andrews’ colleagues praise his business skills, they and members of the community supporting his CFO of the Year nomination say that more important is his integrity and his sincere concern for co-workers.
“He is a friend, mentor, teacher, encourager, and he has a true heart for people-sharing both triumphs and burdens,” Page says. “He is a role model of the highest character and integrity, and he is someone you truly would be glad to know and call co-worker and friend, which I am glad that I do.”
“Phil is not only caring about people in his personal life, but as a leader, he cares about each and every one of his employees,” wrote Leabert Lowe, on the ORAU custodial staff, who says he asked to submit a letter supporting Andrews when he heard of his nomination.
“He has impeccable ethical standards, an exceptional grasp of sound fiscal practices, and a remarkably effective mentoring leadership style that has earned the respect and enabled the advancement of those who have worked with him,” adds Homer Fisher, University of Tennessee senior vice president emeritus, who was among more than 40 people who wrote letters of support for Andrews’ nomination.
Andrews admits that he is full of sayings that guide his life, and his administrative assistant, Tina Phillips, notes one in particular that those who report to him have found particularly moving and exemplary of his compassion: “Be where you are uniquely qualified to be.” When her niece had surgery, he told her no one else could be the aunt to that little girl and to go be with her.
“Anybody can do your job here for an hour, two hours, or a half-day, a day or a week,” Andrews says. “Nobody else can by your child’s mom, or be your husband’s wife, or be your brother’s sister. Those things you are uniquely qualified for.”
He adds, “You won’t remember that three hours you missed at work, but your daughter might remember you not being at her recital. That is important to me.”
He has found, he says, that most people will give back infinitely more than you give them. “Most people, if you give that latitude, then you pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, is there any way you can come in here on Saturday?’ (They say) ‘Absolutely. What time do you need me to be there?’ And they do it with a positive mindset.”
Another saying he shares with his two sons, Brad and Ben, as well as his co-workers: “What’s right is right, even if nobody’s doing it. What’s wrong is wrong, even if everybody’s doing it.”
Andrews sums up his approach to life like this: “I really have to believe when you meet your maker, at the end of all this, He’s not going to look at you and say, ‘Wow, Phil, what a CFO.’ He’s going to hold me accountable for the two boys I raised, hold me accountable for how I treated my wife and how I treated my co-workers.”
Title: Vice president of business operations and CFO, Oak Ridge Associated Universities; Treasurer, ORAU Foundation
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, University of Tennessee; master’s degree in business administration, UT
Work experience: Internal auditor, Tennessee Comptroller; auditor, University of Tennessee; staff accountant at Boeing-Oak Ridge where he spent 27 years and rose to plant manager and CEO
Community service: Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, current vice chair, 2016 chair-elect; East Tennessee Economic Council board of directors; Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, past board member; Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge Advisory Board, past member; volunteer, Habitat for Humanity
Awards: Eugene Joyce Lifetime Achievement Award, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
Family: Wife, Patti; sons, Brad, age 20, and Ben, 17.