Ashley Crandall

Taking the stairway to success

How Ashley Crandall built her robust collection of leadership experience from respiratory therapist in the U.S. Army to the Americas CFO at Capgemini.

For Ashley Crandall (BSBA ’05), decisions are almost never made quickly. As someone who has long valued fiscal responsibility and doing research before coming to a conclusion, it still surprises Crandall how quickly she made the decision to attend the University of Florida.

At the time, Crandall was serving in the U.S. Army as a respiratory therapist, which she later continued to do at Shands Hospital while she was a student. While serving, her mom attended an event at UF and informed Crandall it would be a perfect fit for her as she knew her daughter wanted to go to a major university with top rankings, great sports and plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Although Crandall traveled the country looking at schools prior to joining the Army, she ended up going to UF even though she had never seen it. Crandall recognizes, “it was one of my best decisions.”

Despite her experience working in health care in the Army, Crandall’s love of numbers and telling stories with numbers was the reason she decided to study finance at the Warrington College of Business. She also knew that, “every function of business needs to understand the numbers, from HR to operations.” Therefore, she believed finance was a good foundation for her future career.  

“I had no idea how broad finance was when I chose my degree,” she said. “I learned throughout my time at UF just how many avenues a finance degree could take you.”

Crandall gravitated towards corporate finance, which led her to her first role at GE where she began as an intern and later led to a full-time position with the company’s finance management program. It was with GE that her passion for corporate finance grew. She enjoys being connected to the operations of a business, being involved in the strategy planning and helping a company reach its goals.

Crandall’s accomplishments led to subsequent leadership positions with leading public companies including, the VP of Finance at a payment software company, the North America CFO at a technology services company, and currently she is the Americas CFO at Capgemini, a global technology consulting firm.

Throughout her various corporate roles, as well as in the Army, Crandall notes something she’s taken away from these experiences is learning the role leaders play in an organization.

“As leaders, it’s our job to build teams and inspire and invest in them because they are the future of our company and our success,” she said. “For me, people are our greatest asset and building high functioning teams and inspiring your team and helping them reach their full potential is one of the most important parts of your job as a leader.”

Inspiring other women has also been an important part of Crandall’s leadership. She noted that she first started to see gender bias during her time in the Army.

“I had to prove to others, even to myself, that women are just as capable,” she said.

Crandall ended up graduating third out of about 200 men and women in her basic training class. She believes the experiences that she has encountered throughout her career are opportunities to learn and share with other women.

“I want to be able to give women the tools to be successful so that they can be leaders,” she said.

Crandall would love to see more women in leadership roles, as they bring unique perspectives to the table.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always appreciated the value that diverse teams can bring.” 

She notes how critical it is to step outside of your comfort zone but doing so doesn’t have to be a huge leap. Crandall didn’t start her career with a goal of being a CFO. Instead, she made the most out of each opportunity, which became a steppingstone on her journey to CFO.

“I didn’t know that I wanted to be a CFO,” she said. “I just wanted to drive improvement and challenge myself and learn and grow in new ways. Focus on your strengths and what you bring to the table. As you’re faced with new challenges and opportunities, lean into those experiences and leverage them to grow.”

Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult, Crandall recognizes, but maintaining a positive and resilient mindset will help you push yourself in unexpected ways.

“It’s easy to find the negatives in everything that you do, but if you think positively, it leads to more opportunities.”

Beyond her time-consuming and travel-dominated C-suite role, Crandall is a mom of two daughters. She attributes a positive mindset and prioritization, as what has allowed her to be successful and have no regrets.

“I’m the kind of person who gives 110% to all I do, but I understand that I can’t expect myself to do everything,” she said. “Make sure you have realistic goals and have grace.”

She recognizes that no person’s career path is the same, and although the Army, a respiratory therapist and Finance may not be a traditional career path, she loves the journey she’s been on thus far and wouldn’t change a thing.

“One quote that I’ve always liked is, ‘There’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs,’” she said.