Jennie Martinez is a licensed CPA and experienced CFO with nearly 20 years of experience in finance and accounting. She has a successful record of developing startup companies in both the technology and service sectors. Jennie began her career in public accounting with firms like Ernst & Young and Moss Adams. After several years, she left public accounting and worked as VP of Finance and CFO before founding J. Lee Financial in 2017. As an outsourced CFO, Jennie services small and mid-sized companies to establish stability, build infrastructure and support growth. Jennie is also very involved in the Sacramento business community serving on several boards and was past president of the Sacramento Chapter of Financial Executives International. In 2016, Jennie was one of Sac
Business Journal’s “CFO of the Year” honorees and in 2019, she was recognized as one of Sacramento’s “40 under 40”. Jennie’s experience as a financial executive along with her drive “to get things done” has proven to be a key element of her success.
What is your position on the board at AMASV?
VP of Finance
How did you decide to take on the role of VP of Finance, and how long have you been in that role?
Less than a year. I was brought on by Karen who works at Sagent Marketing where I am an outsource CFO. I work for several different companies. I do finance and I have some marketing exposure (from working with Sagent Marketing) so I thought I could help out on the AMA team. I also work with a few other associations. I am on the board of financial executives international. I was their past president for two and a half years. I hold a lot of other different titles, I also do sponsorships, you name it. I am also on the finance committee for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Between my experience running associations, finance, and marketing it seemed like a good fit that I could add some support to the team.
Where did you go to school and what degree did you graduate with?
I went to California State University, Fullerton and I graduated with a Bachelor of Art in Business Administration with a specialty in accounting. I am a pure numbers geek!
Can you explain how you contribute to AMA?
I manage the accounting and produce financial statements for our board meetings. I also give financial guidance with some decision making. We haven’t had a lot to do this year unfortunately with COVID-19. The revenue side and the expense side has decreased, so there hasn’t been a tremendous amount. With my experience from the other organizations I have been able to give our AMA President Casey some advice on a few things that are a little outside of that scope and some information on what other associations are doing and how they are handling the crisis right now. I also work with Casey on the budgeting.
Can you give me some details about how you’ve been contributing to this year’s scholarship?
I have helped with the scholarship by providing financial information. I advise on different areas like the taxability of it. I am the compliance person so I am the right person to come to for whatever compliance questions are out there. If i don’t have the answer I have a really great network of people who do so I am always able to reach out.
Can you talk about your decision to be on the board with AMA?
For me it’s about helping where I can. Being a finance person is not everyone’s gig. It really isn’t, and a lot of finance people don’t necessarily understand marketers so I feel like I have a kind of unique skill set to help out. I am that person. I love helping others and growing organizations. It’s what I find fun. The part that I do enjoy is not only in associations but in my business where I can help organizations grow and develop the infrastructure.
Can you talk about some challenges you’ve faced on the board?
I came in right before COVID-19 hit, so where I feel I could have been more impactful is when we were having more meetings and events. That has decreased. We’re more in a stability mode to stay as stable as we can which is great, but there’s not as much activity to really participate in as far as making decisions on the finance side. I think that’s been a little hard for me just because it almost seems like a slower start just with the timing of me joining and COVID-19 is not exactly the best situation. Our expenses are low enough that we’re able to maintain ourselves for a period of time without incoming revenue. Expenses are associated with in person type meetings so it’s not as much of a financial struggle, and that is what I am experiencing with most of my associations as well. We are a networking organization to some degree and that means you’re doing in person meetings. Well that stops and so does the expense so it kind of offsets each other in that way. What that shows is that we maintain a low overhead. We’re volunteers so none of us are getting paid. When activities drop so does revenue and expense versus other organizations where they have a higher overhead that’s a struggle to keep up on, but we don’t have that so we’re very fortunate.
Can you talk about some changes you see in the marketing space in the future and how you see marketers evolving?
Although I don’t have expertise in the marketing industry to that extent, I can say what I’d like to see more of is working with finance teams. I think an organization is stronger where marketing is working with finance, but it’s not very typical because personalities, skill sets, and that whole thing. I think organizations are stronger when there is a better connection there. This is not necessarily speaking to where the industry is going because frankly I don’t know if there is big energy behind it. As finance people we see the numbers as important. If you’re not making money then what’s going on?
Can you talk about some of your hobbies and interests?
I love food. It’s my hobby, it’s my interest, it’s everything, so I cook. In a past life I used to work in restaurants so I have a high bar of what I accept. I was a VP of Finance at Nugget Market for a period of time so I’m kind of a foodie. I’ve tried a few new restaurants and recently went to a new barbecue place. I cook so much at home. I love going out to eat, but I am always judging them against what I make is better. I struggle with eating out too much unless it’s high caliber like Chef’s Table in Rocklin that I really enjoy going to as well. My favorite thing to cook at home is sauces and soups. It’s that creative process where you’re putting all the ingredients you think are working in your head, you taste it and you make those changes. I feel like with baking or anything with raw eggs you can’t taste it as you’re making it and blend it to where you’re trying to go. So sauces and soups in general. I do have one little secret hobby that I do that I don’t tell everybody, but I play with legos. For me it’s interesting because my career is very analytical but I’m also very creative. I’ve done scrapbooking and crafts and all that kind of stuff, but when it comes to legos it’s great because you’re taking analytical and creative and working in a space that if you mess up you can just tear it down and start over again. The consequences aren’t there. In my day to day job if I don’t do my job right people could not get paid or companies can go under. So the level of stress in my actual job is when I fail it’s pretty high. Something like legos where no one gets hurt, no problem if my building collapses or whatever it may be. I find it to be incredibly relaxing and touching different parts of my brain so that’s kind of a fun little thing I like to do. I think when people hear legos it’s always take the set and use the instructions. To me it’s not creative enough so I don’t do that. I actually create from scratch my own buildings and castles, because that to me is the creative part where I am actually designing it and trying to make sure that it’s stable and that it’s not going to fall over. I think if people think of it that way they might actually enjoy it more.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start volunteering with AMA?
Reach out to a board member. Talk to someone about the opportunities there are to help and what you can do to make a difference.