14 Feb Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1992 Scholar Jason Wheeler
Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?
I’m currently on sabbatical after 13+ years at Google and a little under two years at Tesla, where I served as the CFO. I loved my work as a finance executive and CFO. It was a daily search for truth. In its simplest form, my role was to bring insights and foresights to the table each day to optimize resource allocation and decision making for the organizations for which I worked. What could be better than that?
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
The Boettcher Scholarship was quite literally my only ticket to higher education. I have always felt that since I was granted this wonderful gift that I have an ongoing obligation to the foundation – and to the scholars that have followed – to make good use of it. My view is that the Boettcher Scholarship shouldn’t be thought of as an end. It’s the beginning of a life dedicated to the values of intellectual achievement, leadership, community involvement and character.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
I keep myself busy with a variety of different things.
I’m a serial team manager for our kids’ sports teams. I serve on the audit committee of Sacred Heart Schools and on the alumni board of the Boettcher Foundation. I’ve also served on the national board of Positive Coaching Alliance. For the past two years, my wife and I have also been very active in politics – we have gotten to know many aspiring U.S. House of Representatives candidates and have helped campaign and raise money for them.
Physical fitness is also a big deal in our house. I’m psyched to have completed the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon twice, once in 2012 and again last summer.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
On values (from a business school professor): Integrity is binary.
On excellence (from a former boss & mentor): Winners don’t believe in trade-offs or diminishing returns.
My practical advice for new graduates entering finance: Hone the skills necessary to turn data into analysis, into insight and ultimately into action. When you drive action, you are adding value. The rest is just part of the journey.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
This answer changes depending on what I am learning about at any given time. The easy answer here is Abraham Lincoln. Leonardo daVinci as well.
Currently though, I have a real interest in Lyndon B. Johnson. From my perspective, his domestic policies were a great legacy overshadowed by his handling (or not handling) of the Vietnam War. I’d really like to get inside his head and understand the calculus that ultimately led him to not seek re-election and indirectly pave the way for Richard Nixon to come to power.