George Barrios, CFO, stewards WWE with three-part
By Nancy Flagg
While larger-than-life Superstars and Divas battle on TV,
George Barrios tackles financial challenges behind the
scenes to help move global entertainment giant WWE ever
In his Chief Financial Officer role, Barrios serves as both
a strategic advisor and a steward of WWE's half-billion
dollar business portfolio.
When Barrios was first approached about working for WWE, he
researched the company and was impressed by the global
brand, which encompasses primetime TV, DVDs, video content,
pay-per-view, film, publishing and merchandise. Upon
meeting CEO Vince McMahon, Barrios was sold on making a
career move by the executive's willingness to be
entrepreneurial and take chances.
Throughout his career, Barrios has successfully taken on
evolving responsibilities. His formula for success for
businessmen and businesswomen who want to make a difference
is: focus on the job at hand, find role models and push the
Focus on the Job at Hand
Most people want to get promoted, naturally. But, Barrios
advises, they "need to concentrate first on doing their
current job well."
Rigorous time management is key to doing a job well. "It's
easy to get pulled in a million directions," Barrios said.
"A disciplined executive makes conscious choices of where
to put his energies."
"Whatever happens happens because of what you put into it."
Barrios sets aside blocks of time every day to make headway
on strategic initiatives. This allows him to "go deep" into
a subject and make meaningful change. He is selective about
what goes on his calendar; otherwise he would "end up like
peanut butter spread too thin."
Barrios also uses metrics to improve effectiveness. A
monthly scorecard on his door displays color-coded goals
and metrics that let him easily monitor progress at a
Without setting measurable goals, Barrios said, "It's all
Find Role Models
Barrios understands and emphasizes the importance of having
role models and studying how they became successful.
His parents were his first role models. When the couple
immigrated from Cuba in the 1950s, they had to work hard to
rebuild their lives, but they never complained. Barrios
learned that an individual controls his or her own destiny.
"Whatever happens," he said, "happens because of what you
put into it."
Barrios also considers his boss, Vince McMahon, to be
another great role model. McMahon makes it a point not to
get invested in his own ideas, and, according to Barrios,
behaves "as if every day is the first day on the job." This
attitude, Barrios said, allows McMahon-and Barrios himself,
in his efforts to embody it-to be open to new ideas.
Pushing the envelope, Barrios says, is about taking bold
risks to initiate change and to get noticed.
When Barrios worked with Praxair, he was asked to serve as
General Manager of a division. Barrios worried the job
might be a detour from his CFO career path, but his mentor,
Bob Vipond, showed Barrios that the experience would help
him become a better strategic advisor.
Barrios took the job and quickly found out that sitting
across from customers and explaining the value of services
being delivered gave him a "visceral understanding" of the
challenge of making general management decisions: a wise
addition to his resume indeed.
Barrios now embraces moving beyond the status quo. He
admits that pushing himself and others out of the comfort
zone is hard, but recognizes, as he put it, "If you want an
omelette, you have to break some eggs."
Nancy Flagg is a freelance writer based in Sacramento,