The Saint Mary’s community is pleased to welcome Fernando Bucaro as the new chief financial officer. Bucaro has been serving in the role since Feb. 19. Below is a Q&A meant to introduce Bucaro to the Saint Mary’s community:

Q: What was your professional history prior to arriving at Saint Mary’s?

Bucaro: I have 30 years of experience in the finance field. I started my career at what I like to call “small local companies,” which include Cargill, General Mills, and Carlson. Some of my first positions were in IT, believe it or not. However, I slowly started moving towards numbers because I had a passion for finance and accounting. I spent the first six years or so in internal audits at Cargill, General Mills, and Carlson. After that, I moved more towards what I would call “hardcore finance” and did merger and acquisitions work with Carlson. After spending 20 years in corporate America, I decided to shift over to higher education and began working at the University of Minnesota as the finance director for their research function there. They’re responsible for what’s turning out to be a nearly $1 billion research arm of the university, not only managing their operational budget but also having responsibility for some of their grants, as well as the management of the sponsor projects at a high level.

Q: What made you interested in working in finance and accounting?

Bucaro: I like to utilize numbers to tell stories and set the direction of an organization so it can move forward into the future.

Q: What made you interested in the position at Saint Mary’s?

Bucaro: I have two daughters, and I saw their development through a Lasallian Catholic education at the high school level. I deeply believe it’s an opportunity to help out a younger generation. I do see a gap in our world today, and I believe we can help develop young leaders who are well-rounded and really want to help out their communities, as well as have personal success.

Q: As you settle in at Saint Mary’s, what part of your experience are you most excited to bring to the table?

Bucaro: For me, it’s strategic thinking and long-range planning. This is something I always go back to and bring up in conversations I have with people: there is a difference between finance and accounting. Accounting tells us a story of what’s happened, and sometimes organizations are too focused on that. We need to focus also on what we can do going forward. And to do that, we have to set a strategy to have a financially sound future.

Q: How do you envision integrating the values and mission of our Lasallian Catholic identity into your work?

Bucaro: Every company, and while Saint Mary’s isn’t a company, has a mission and vision to put the customer first, and at Saint Mary’s, our customers are our students. We want to make sure we’re making the right decisions for them strategically and financially, but more importantly, our goal should be to provide them with a sound education that builds their careers going forward. So it’s bringing that into my work and realizing it’s not about a stock price, it’s about our students.

Q: What are some of your initial thoughts of Saint Mary’s?

Bucaro: I’ve seen a significant amount of commitment from staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees. There is a commitment and friendship among most people that makes working and doing your job a lot more comfortable. And their commitment is all for our students.

Q: Higher education is always evolving, are there any strategies you have in mind to keep us ahead of the curve?

Bucaro: I think the challenge we face is how we continue to develop things that set us apart from our competitors. How do we create new programs, new initiatives, and things of that nature? One thing that made Saint Mary’s great was launching our professional programs. I look forward to finding that next initiative that makes us say, ‘Wow, we can lay our foundation on this for the next 20 years,’ which is what we did with our professional programs.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about who Fernando Bucaro is outside of your professional setting?

Bucaro: Well, I have two daughters who are 21 and 18. My oldest is at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown and my youngest is a senior at Benilde-Saint Margaret’s High School. My wife, Pamela, is an ophthalmologist here in the Twin Cities area. I’m originally from Guatemala and began learning English at the age of four and subsequently moved to the U.S. when I was 10. I received most of my education here in Minnesota, receiving my undergrad at Saint Cloud State and an MBA from Saint Thomas. I also ventured out a bit and did a Master’s at Oxford University, which is a completely different educational process and environment. I speak several languages, including Spanish and Portuguese. My wife Pamela and I are passionate about world travel and have visited over 80 countries in the world.

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