hired an industry outsider with transformation experience as its next finance chief, the first woman in that role.
The Milwaukee-based company named Gina Goetter as its chief financial officer, effective Sept. 30. Ms. Goetter, who joins Harley-Davidson from meat producer Tyson Foods Inc., will take over from interim CFO Darrell Thomas. Mr. Thomas became interim finance chief in July when Harley-Davidson announced the departure of John Olin, who had served as finance head since 2009.
Ms. Goetter is expected to be part of the restructuring of Harley-Davidson under its new Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz, formerly the head of German sportswear company
The initiative, called the “Rewire,” is intended to reduce the number of models on offer and simplify the business that has seen its sales decline for several quarters in a row.
Ms. Goetter will be taking over the finances of Harley-Davidson, which booked about $5.36 billion in consolidated revenue in 2019, after the motorcycle company was removed from the S&P 500 in June due to a more than 30% drop in its share price since the beginning of the year.
At Tyson, Ms. Goetter ran its prepared-food segment, a business unit that generates about $9 billion in annual revenue. Before that, she worked in various finance roles at cereal maker
General Mills Inc.,
including as CFO of the $3.6 billion meals-and-baking unit, where she led efforts to overhaul the business model and bring down costs by $150 million a year.
That experience in managing cost-reduction programs will be useful in the new role, analysts said. Harley-Davidson is struggling with weakening sales after import tariffs were imposed in the U.S. and Europe, and a further drop after lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic led to its dealerships being temporarily closed.
“Gina is a CFO with the experience to drive a transformation of core processes,” Mr. Zeitz said in a press release. “She will add to the fresh perspectives and new capabilities now represented at the leadership level that complement the experienced talent that has been promoted from within,” Mr. Zeitz said.
Mr. Zeitz, a board member since 2007 who took over as CEO earlier this year, in July announced 700 job cuts, or about 13% of the company’s head count. Ms. Goetter will be part of the leadership team that is developing a strategy for 2021 to 2025, called the “Hardwire,” a spokeswoman said.
Her lack of industry experience means Ms. Goetter has a steep learning curve ahead of her, said Joseph Altobello, a managing director at investment bank
Raymond James Financial Inc.
“Power sports and packaged foods are very different industries,” Mr. Altobello said, adding that a new CFO with a different background could also be an advantage for the company as it looks to revamp its business.
External CFO appointments at companies in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 stand at 38.8% this year, slightly down from 39.5% last year, according to Crist|Kolder Associates, an executive recruitment firm. Hiring of women to the role has been flat, with 13.4% of CFO positions in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 currently occupied by women, compared with 13.2% in 2019, Crist|Kolder said.
Harley-Davidson’s stock is now trading on the S&P MidCap 400, and on Monday afternoon stood at $24.28, down 3.8% from its previous close.
— Colin Kellaher contributed to this article.
Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected]
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Appeared in the September 22, 2020, print edition as ‘Harley-Davidson Names New CFO as It Revamps Business.’