Fisher alumna Cindy Pekrul is the Senior Vice President of Global Finance Operations at NBCUniversal

Leading accounting across the media landscape

After helping two companies through bankruptcies early in her career, Cindy Pekrul was struggling to decide what was next. She already had great experience in financial operations, but she wanted a break before figuring out what the next step looked like in her career.

So she took a severance package when her employer was purchased and set out to experience the world.

She spent a month in Ecuador, a month in New York City with friends and found places in her hometown of Atlanta where she could spend her time volunteering. When it came time for her to get back in the job hunt, Pekrul (BSBA ’89, MAcc ’90) had one clear goal in the next role she would accept.

“I wanted my career to be aligned with a company’s success,” Pekrul said. “I didn’t want my next role to be only about a company’s survival.”

Today, Pekrul is the Senior Vice President of Global Finance Operations at NBCUniversal, but her climb to that position began by applying for a job at Turner Broadcasting. She had experience working at Ernst & Young out of college, and her time working through bankruptcies at LaRoche Industries and Allied Holdings made her a strong candidate for accounting jobs in Atlanta.

She was particularly drawn to the position at Turner Broadcasting. Pekrul had experience at smaller companies, but she applied to the controller position at Cartoon Network with the knowledge that Turner was a dynamic and growing company. Experience in a media company was the perfect addition to her skill set and her curiosity helped her ascend through the company.

“I remember thinking, ‘wow, there are more effective ways to manage our accounting operations,’” Pekrul recalled. “There were people and processes in each of Turner’s networks and I wondered if a centralized approach would be better.  That’s how my journey into financial operations started.”

From Cartoon Network, Pekrul was promoted to roles such as Vice President and Controller of CNN Worldwide, Vice President and Deputy Controller – Accounting Center of Excellence, and Senior Vice President and Deputy Controller – Accounting Business Services, at WarnerMedia.

Pekrul was charged with creating a global model for accounting at Turner which ultimately grew to include procurement operations, billing and collections, payroll and travel services. She and others on the team started the Accounting Business Services in 2011. When she left in 2020, the organization was globally operated and included a shared service center in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

In 2020, NBCUniversal was designing a centralized global finance operation. Pekrul’s experience leading a similar operation at Turner Broadcasting and WarnerMedia made her a perfect fit for the Senior Vice President of Global Finance Operations role at NBCUniversal.

“I’m charged with setting up and executing on a previously designed plan to consolidate and lead NBCUniversal’s global finance operations,” Pekrul said of the role she started in June 2021. “We’re in the beginning stages and are trying to grow it into the vision that was planned and designed.”

While Pekrul is in the early days of understanding the company and its operation, she’s also working through the personal transition of preparing to move with her husband from their home in the Atlanta suburbs to an apartment in New York City.

But she’s energized by the change because of her familiarity with the media landscape.

“It’s different, but it’s fun,” Pekrul said of working in the media industry instead of her early work with accounting firms and manufacturing companies. “I’ve been on sets of news programs at CNN and TV shows at Warner Bros, and I’ll do that at NBCUniversal when we move and things return to in-person. It’s really fun to be connected to something that resonates well with people.”

Pekrul’s time at the Fisher School provided her with the foundation to stand out immediately in her first job out of school and helped her continue to advance her career. From her time living at the Pilot Scholarship House as a student to building a network of likeminded students, Fisher helped Pekrul transition into a professional.

“When I got to Fisher, I hit my stride,” Pekrul said. “I met people who had similar passions and goals for our futures. We had fun and were driven, but what Fisher did most for me, it helped me get to a place of seeing myself as an adult and a professional. I was a student and made many friends, but it helped me get over the hump and into the working world.”

On the technical side, she learned the basics that would ease the transition into her first job at Ernst & Young.

“I had people at EY who would tell me that the new hires from the Fisher School were stellar,” Pekrul said. “As graduates of the University of Florida, our colleagues understood that we knew our stuff and we didn’t need to be taught the fundamentals.”