Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Washington, DC CFO Community

Ilana Esterrich

Chief Financial Officer

Planned Parenthood

Ilana Esterrich is the CFO at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Ilana is an experienced strategic and operational finance executive with over 30 years of experience bringing order to chaos through extensive strategy, finance and accounting, and operations experience. 

Ilana is an extremely collaborative business partner and relationship builder with vertical and horizontal cross-functional teams to drive successful and profitable strategy development and execution. 

A fun fact about her is that she likes to use humor in her meetings which always seems to shock and surprise people. Ilana thinks finance professionals have a bad rap of being too serious.

Learn more about the Washington, DC CFO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

I started my career in management consulting in the financial management & business analysis practice (precursor to today's FP&A) and OCFO practice. 

I spent the middle part of my career in Fortune 500 companies, rotating through finance roles in support of brands, logistics, foodservice, manufacturing and operations. This latest phase of my career has been in the not-for-profit/association space as a CFO.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

One of my guiding leadership principles is to take care of your people: lead them, train them, develop them, delegate to them, trust them. 

When they are able to do their best work and are recognized and compensated well for it, they will continue to strive for excellence. Their success is your success.

What is the greatest challenge CFOs face today, and how are you addressing it?

A challenge has been adapting to the changing role of the CFO and the growing relationship between the CEO and CFO. Closing the books, preparing financial statements, successfully completing audits, etc., is table stakes. 

Increasingly, we are growing in our ability and strengths to best support the rest of our C-level peers, our boards and other stakeholders. We need to adopt strong people and business skills, adapt to growth and change in technology capabilities, and stay on the cutting edge of strategy and organizational/market transformation.

What is the key to success for someone just starting out as a CFO?

The key to success is to always be learning, stay humble, ask questions and ask for help.

How do you measure success as a leader?

I measure success by asking myself: “If I were to take extended leave and be 100% disconnected from the office, how well would my team be able to function in my absence and would the rest of the organization notice any difference?”

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