Shannon Carbone received her accounting foundation at the Fisher School

An entrepreneurial passion

Shannon Carbone always knew she’d be an entrepreneur. After graduating from the Fisher School of Accounting in 1994, she worked at KPMG before later moving into the banking industry. But the dream to start her own company never left.

As she worked with clients in her early roles, she started to see gaps in the market. She worked with mid-market companies who needed a qualified Chief Financial Officer but had a less than full-time, long-term need.

That’s where CFO Strategic Partners was born.

“I saw a need in the market and a gap in growing mid-market companies who needed something more sophisticated than a controller,” Carbone (BSAc ’94) said. “They needed a thought partner who could help them grow.”

Founded by Carbone in 1999, CFO Strategic Partners allows companies to outsource CFO staffing solutions. When Carbone started the company, she did so with a long-term vision to problem solve and consult for companies for years to come. It was the first company of its kind when it was founded, and although competitors have come and gone over the years, CFO Strategic Partners remains a leader in an industry that it created.

“Nobody had done this before,” Carbone said. “There was no manual or how-to book because there was no industry at the time. My first marketing pamphlets were explaining what outsourcing could be. People weren’t sure how to do it at the time.”

As the clients grew, so did the company. Today, the firm offers a complete suite of outsourced CFO services, including interim support, long-term CFO needs, on demand, CFO recruiting services, and project-based or as-needed CFO level support. The team is comprised of the best talent and those with abilities that go beyond basic skills. Carbone prioritized the company’s culture and created a team-centered, collaborative culture where to clients receive the most creative and strategic solutions. 

“The team is comprised of the best talent and those with abilities that go beyond just skills and experience,” Carbone said. “They have to have the right personality and personal traits to thrive. We started doing personality profiles before job offers 18 years ago. So now, we know what traits work well here and with our clients, and we stick with what works.”

Today, the company has worked with thousands of clients. Their very first client remains a client today after 21 years.

Carbone founded CFO Strategic Partners just five years after her graduation from the Fisher School of Accounting. She credits her time at the Fisher School as an important factor to make sure she was ready for such an important step early in her career.

“Of course, I learned my debits, credits and T-accounts,” Carbone said. “I learned what I needed to know and where to find information that I needed. But more than providing me with a great foundation, my time at UF and the Fisher School taught me more than numbers. They taught me to think beyond numbers. Your numbers have to be right, but then what?”

To show her appreciation for the foundation she received at the Fisher School, Carbone has remained involved as a graduate. She served as a judge in Warrington’s Business Plan Competition, hosted an entrepreneurship reception in Winter Park for local Business Gators, serves on the University of Florida Foundation National Board, and recently completed a rotation as the Chair of the UF Foundation Audit Committee, which is part of UF’s Executive Board.

“I really see it as a huge contributor to where I am today,” Carbone said. “I don’t know what my path would have been without the Fisher School.”