The Unexpected Entrepreneur

by Erin McCune on May 16, 2006

in Women Professionals

The following "member spotlight" featuring yours truly was published in a recent edition of the Association of Women MBAs newsletter:

AWM Member Spotlight
Erin McCune: The Unexpected Entrepreneur

Erin McCune (USC Marshall School of Business, 2003) never intended to have a business career, instead imagining herself as a designer or editor. Yet today, she is the founder of Forte Financial, a management consulting firm dedicated to financial process improvement.

Erin started her career in Eastern Europe during the early 1990s — a time of historic social and economic transformation. As an Account Executive at McCann-Erickson Budapest, the global advertising agency, she led the Nestle and Gillette accounts for Hungary and the other Eastern Bloc countries. (Lesson #1: Be fearless! Don’t let a lack of language skills or business experience prevent you from tackling a exciting challenge.)

Upon return she decided to pursue her love of books and reading as the Publicity Manager for a small publisher. The chain bookstores were rising in prominence, was just starting out, and she was responsible for the publisher’s fledgling website back in 1996. After two years of author tours, wrangling with the press, and sizing up placement in bookstores she began to realize that it was much better to read books than take part in the making of them. (Lesson #2: If a job isn’t working for you, cut your losses and leave.)

A friend was working as a project manager on a huge systems initiative at the local phone monopoly and she and Erin gathered regularly to complain about their professional unhappiness. The more she heard her friend describe her miserable project management job, the more Erin thought to herself, Hey that sounds interesting and challenging. Today they have switched places, her friend has joined the world of words and is an editor and copywriter and Erin has held a series of increasingly senior positions managing ever larger and complicated technology projects in the finance and accounting fields. After the first 18 months working as a contract project manager she incorporated and began representing herself to prospective clients. She worked full time for her clients while earning her MBA at USC from 2001 – 2003. (Lesson #3: Take charge of your own career, even as it takes you places you never imagined.)

After seven years as a successful sole proprietor Erin realized that there was far greater demand for financial process improvement than she could meet. She launched Forte Financial in 2005 to simultaneously address this need and provide flexible work opportunities for consultants and finance/technology professionals. The Forte Financial team consists of a core group of project managers, analysts, and finance professionals complemented by a network of payment and technology experts. Together we deliver treasury product and technology expertise combined with proven change management methodologies enabling our clients to reduce costs and increase working capital, streamline their operations, and mine transactional data to drive more effective decision making throughout their company. (Lesson #4: Seize the opportunity to build the perfect work environment for yourself and your employees.)

To learn more about Forte Financial, our services, and our flexible career opportunities, please visit or contact Erin directly at

To learn more about the Association of Women MBAs (AWM) visit the website.

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