Merger showed CFO’s ‘passion for excellence’
Jennifer Whichello loves being involved with the intersection of people and process.
“If you can’t bring the right people together with the right processes at the right time and motivate them, the best-laid plan won’t come into fruition,” she says. “You have to get them to buy into the plan so it energizes them.”
A Chesapeake native, Whichello is chief financial officer of Richmond-based NSTO LLC, the parent company of Need Supply Co. and Totokaelo, two U.S.-based clothing and lifestyle retailers. NSTO has another office in New York.
Whichello demonstrated her ability to bring people together in combining the operations of Totokaelo with Need Supply Co. to create “an efficient and scalable platform,” says NSTO CEO Christopher Bossola. He cites the merger as Whichello’s “greatest accomplishment” at the company to date.
When she joined Need Supply in 2016, it and Totokaelo were being run as parallel companies. “It was very church and state. They were separate for a while,” Whichello says.
She found excessive duplication and felt merging the companies would improve efficiency. “That was the first merger I have been involved with,” she says. “Everything was seamless. Now we get to reap the benefits of the new structure.”
A Virginia Tech alum with an MBA from George Washington University, Whichello can “think strategically but will also roll up her sleeves and execute. She is a doer,” Bossola says. “She has a passion for excellence.”
At NSTO, Whichello oversees multiple functions. “I have always managed areas such as human resources, planning and logistics. There was only one job I had where I had only one role, and I didn’t feel challenged. I was bored,” she says.
A 2018 CFO Leadership Program graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Whichello has held financial positions in the apparel industry since 2007.
Her post-merger efforts to expand the company’s fulfillment center operations resulted in 24-hour order processing as well as faster shipping. The changes have increased repeat business and helped the company grow.
“Jenny is a very driven individual who sets high standards for herself and her team,” says John Jobe V, a partner at the accounting firm Cherry Bekaert LLP in Richmond. “Her role is not simply limited to the finance function. She brings a wealth of knowledge to NSTO across the finance, operations and human resources areas of the company.”
In the merger, Whichello designed and managed the consolidation of payroll and benefits along with restructuring NSTO’s organizational chart and human resource policies. She also oversaw the closure of redundant offices and functions. The company saved more than $1 million in operating costs and saw double-digit job creation at its Richmond office after closing its Los Angeles office and New York City photo studio.
While she loves overcoming challenges at work, there are days Whichello feels she has “limited bandwidth,” she says. “Sometimes I can’t take on every project that I want to. My one goal for 2019 is to says, ‘no’ more because I can’t do everything I want to do and do an excellent job.”
Working in a consumer-driven industry keeps her on her toes, she adds. “I’ve been working in companies like this since 2007 so I am pretty resilient and thick-skinned.”
Her biggest joy is to see a plan that might be a stretch come to fruition because of an engaged workforce. “I like to get it working,” she says. “That’s what I like most about my job.”