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SXU Alum Applies Broad Business Skills as CFO


Saint Xavier University (SXU) alum Paul Emmerth '06 has had a broad career in finance with various major companies, and he's using the business skills he gained during his time at Saint Xavier to serve as a strategic leader.  

Emmerth, who had a bachelor's degree in business, pursued an MBA in finance at SXU and graduated in 2006. After graduating, Emmerth moved from being a production supervisor at Coca-Cola to his first accounting/finance position as a plant controller at Pepsi. From there, he became the finance manager at a small food company in Chicago and then a corporate controller at a medical device company. After six years there, he became CFO at Zwanenberg Food Group in 2022.  

"Since one of our products is chili, I'm legitimately a bean counter," Emmerth joked about his role. "But what I enjoy most about it is things are changing so fast, you can't do it alone. Developing a competent staff and watching them flourish is something I truly enjoy," said Emmerth.  

In his role as CFO, Emmerth works on helping the areas of finance, accounting, human resources, and information technology develop so he can continue to focus more on corporate strategic initiatives.  

Though Emmerth initially wanted more of a management MBA, he was drawn to finance after being inspired by the Graham School of Management (GSM) faculty (including Professors Hoque, Chishty and Mohammadi), who taught him that it wasn't just about numbers but the story behind the numbers.  

In addition to preparing him academically, Emmerth's time at SXU taught him valuable lessons.  

"The best thing I learned in class wasn't in the books; it was the way the professors led the class. If a student wasn't getting the lesson, they took the time to understand and point that student in the right direction. I'll never forget that, and it taught me how to treat my employees and helped drive my career for the past 15 years."

Emmerth appreciated how SXU prepared him to be a problem solver.  

"In one of my classes, we were given an assignment without any way to solve it. All the students came in with different answers. It was a lesson in how to creatively think through a problem. The answer was irrelevant; it was how you dealt with the no-win situation," said Emmerth.  

He also enhanced his skills in time management while at the University. 

"At the time, I was working as a production supervisor, which isn't a desk job, so I had to find creative ways to get my studying in. I would type out my notes and print them out in a small font to fit one page. While I was walking around the plant, I would pull out the paper and study," said Emmerth.  

Emmerth finds that SXU's core values and Mercy mission resonate with how he operates personally and professionally.  

"Service and compassion are the best way to succeed both in your personal and professional life. Provide value to all around you regardless of who they are and show compassion when needed. Do that, and there will be no limit to what you can do," said Emmerth.  

Emmerth, who enjoys sports and has completed two full Ironman triathlons, is currently working on completing all six World Major marathons.