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In mid-March, retail cosmetics shop Ulta Beauty closed all 1,254 stores and CFO Scott Settersten and his 200-person finance team, like much of the country, became remote workers overnight. Settersten characterizes it as “a firestorm erupted, and a dark cloud descended over us.” During a period of unprecedented upheaval brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, though, “everyone in finance executed their daily tasks, closed the books, and filed the financial statements on an entirely remote and virtual basis, something they had not done previously,” says Settersten. “It was a surprise to me just how well we performed.”
The Ulta CFO was not the only finance chief singing the praises of his team in late summer, with pandemic shutdowns still in effect in some states. In the previous five months, in record numbers, finance professionals had worked on a distributed basis from their homes, using an array of technologies to keep businesses running; to assess the impact of the pandemic; and to stay on top of disclosures to investors, lenders, and regulators.
“The shift to remote work for me and [our] finance organization was relatively seamless,” says CFO Steven Horowitz of CareCentrix, a managed home health-care provider. “We already were completing most …
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