PYB welcomed Erin Friday to its Board of Directors in September. Erin Friday is the CEO and President of Main Line Accounting, a CPA firm dedicated to the accounting needs of small businesses, not-for-profits, churches, and individuals. Since the beginning of 2016 Ms. Friday has been the pro bono Chief Financial Officer for PYB. Erin is also the Chief Financial Officer of L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals LLC (LEAF), a global pharmaceutical company with a mission to discover, develop, and commercialize innovative and safe therapies for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases.
Share about your playing experience and professional career goals.
My basketball experience mostly comes from playing in a few recreational leagues down in Stone Harbor and mostly coaching in the Instructional Basketball League for more than 10 years. Interesting to note, while I was a coach in the IBL program, I was the only female coach the entire time. I was hopefully serving as a role model to those who came after me to get involved. I also had the chance to be involved with a program called Shooting Touch, which is similar to PYB. It operates in Boston and Rwanda. I had the opportunity to coach in a girls tournament and that was an amazing experience.
In terms of career goals, I am a Certified Public Accountant. I have always aspired to use accounting information to help, whether that is clients for Main Line Accounting or for my current role as Chief Financial Officer to help L.E.A.F. Pharmaceuticals meet its mission to provide safe and effective drugs and medicine to people and all families.
When you were younger, did you always want to be an accountant?
I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to be. The only thing that was a constant was me being good at numbers. In high school, teachers recommended I become an engineer and suggested I major in math. I was not sure what I wanted to major in when I went to college. I had a lot of interests and varying talents and people would tell me that I had too much personality to become an accountant. I wasn’t sure it was the profession for me because I thought there is not enough people interaction. Fortunately, I found the right mix of numbers and people with public accounting. I had a chance to work with a firm in college. In my opinion, getting out, shadowing, and trying different careers is the only way to really know whether you really like what you’re going to do or not–trying to find out what it is that gets you up in the morning.
What excites you about PYB?
PYB touches on three of four of my passions. I am passionate about education, basketball, kids, and the U.S military. I really love and believe that education is key to so many opportunities; kids are our future and the earlier you can make a difference in someone’s life the easier it is for them and the better it is for the world. With basketball, it is a fun game to watch, but I also believe there are a lot of life lessons that are learned being apart of a team and getting to play basketball. We are not trying to train NBA players, we are trying to help lift our young people up and deliver things like education, in a way that can be fun and enjoyable.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? What is your advice to young females on overcoming this barrier?
In the Pharmaceutical industry, there is very little female presence in the C-suite. The question is why? I have been questioning a bunch of people about this to understand
why there aren’t more women in these leadership roles, specifically in the pharmaceutical industry. A lot of it has to do with the demands of the job and the travel. I would say overall, one of the biggest barriers is balancing work and family life. We have made great strides in getting more support on the family front, but it still primarily falls to the woman to be the mother and the wife to take care of all the things going on at home.
How we work around, comes in two parts. One, chose your life partner wisely because in order to be able to excel, it is really helpful if you have that support at home. Secondly, I think it is really important to have mentors and coaches in the working world who are going to understand those choices, and who are going to help lift you up and through that. No one can do it themselves, or if they can, it’s going to be a lot harder than if you surround yourself with a support network with mentors and coaches who can help you navigate that.
What do you think is the most important skill our young people should be practicing?
The most important skill is owning your mistakes. This speaks a lot to a person’s integrity and character, but it is really important to be accountable, to apologize and to try and make it right instead of burying it, lying about it, or blaming others. It is really about being a responsible person and realizing that failure is how you learn. You will not be able to learn anything if you do things perfectly every time. If you’re not learning than you are not growing.
Three fun facts about Erin Friday
I am an Hungarian citizen. My mom was born in Budapest and came here in the Hungarian Revolution.
I have been a certified USA track and field official since I was 12 years old. To my knowledge, I am the youngest official to have ever been certified.
My childhood dream was to be in a musical. I was in all of my high school shows.
My parting thoughts are my three keys to happiness: gratitude, optimism, and forgiveness. Gratitude is being thankful for everything you have been blessed with. Optimism is keeping a positive view of how you can help and make a difference. Forgiveness is all about when you fail or other people fail, being able to forgive yourself and others. If you keep those three in the forefront, you strive to live a happy life.