Rejji Hayes – Catalyst Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am the Executive Vice President and CFO of ITC Holdings Corp., an $11 billion publicly traded electric utility based in Michigan. I am responsible for the company’s accounting, tax, internal audit, investor relations, management reporting, financial planning & analysis, risk management, treasury, and mergers & acquisitions functions. My initial exposure to the power & energy sector began when I joined Exelon Corporation in 2009, a $40 billion publicly traded power and energy business in Chicago, where I served as the Assistant Treasurer and Director of Corporate Finance & Financial Strategy. From a skill set perspective, I primarily developed my M&A, corporate finance, accounting skills and general market and deal intuition during my time as an investment banker which has served me well in my current role as CFO.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

Persuading highly sophisticated investors to see value beyond historical fundamentals and/or a near-term financial forecast.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I have been blessed in my career as a consultant, banker and now as a CFO to have worked on numerous, impactful projects for a variety of companies across a wide array of industries. However, if I were to choose a single, noteworthy contribution to the business community, it would be my collective advisory roles in roughly 15 years of corporate finance and M&A transactions. Since graduating from Harvard Business School in 2002, I have completed over 40 deals across multiple industries with an aggregate transaction value of ~$25 billion – including some of the largest in the power and energy sector. I am extremely proud of the aforementioned body of work because I have found that, irrespective of the size of a deal, every transaction provided a tangible benefit to a broad array of stakeholders – be they management, shareholders, employees, customers or the community at large.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

The best leaders I have come across whether in a business context or beyond often seem to have the following qualities: 1) vision; 2) a high degree of emotional intelligence; 3) uncompromising ethical standards and 4) an ability to get the most out of their team.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Playing a significant role in growing, complex organizations in an occupational capacity and/or corporate and philanthropic board work alongside a diverse group of thoughtful principled people who espouse similar values.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

Pursue your passions. I define success as getting paid to do something you truly enjoy. Once you’ve found that you’ll dedicate the time and effort necessary to have an impact.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

I have been fortunate to have had several mentors in my life in variety of contexts. I have always believed in the saying that “a smart person learns from his or her experiences and a really smart person also learns from the experience of others.” True to form, the mentoring that I have received over the years has been invaluable because such guidance has enabled me to avoid major missteps while concurrently having the courage to take risks. Very few paths are completely unpaved and, as such, I have tried to reciprocate by sharing the wisdom my mentors have imparted on me to others – which has been equally rewarding.