After receiving a degree in accounting from the University of Illinois in 1989 and passing the CPA exam in his first sitting, Joseph Sutton joined Price Waterhouse as a staff accountant. Within a year, he was recruited by a client of the firm, Morningstar, Inc., one of the pre-eminent providers of investment information and analysis in the country. During an 11 year career at Morningstar, Sutton was the Chief Financial Officer and oversaw its growth from being a financial publisher with 25 employees, 2 products and less than $1 million in sales, to a market-leading international Internet firm with more than 600 employees, 20 products and $70 million in sales.
Sutton was responsible for numerous responsibilities and transformations at Morningstar. He effectively transitioned the company from an inefficient product-focused organization to a customer-oriented, market-focused one. Sutton had responsibility for company finances on both a micro and macro level. He designed and implemented company’s budgeting process, financial reporting systems and structure, and monthly Board reporting package. He set up international operations and handled the negotiations for a $91 million capital investment into the firm.
Sutton managed all banking, financing, benefits, legal, valuation, real estate, auditing and tax relationships for Morningstar. He was solely responsible for negotiating the contracts and agreements with these professionals and served as in-house council on company-wide contract and legal issues. He played key role in recruiting and hiring Executive Committee members and other high-level managers.
After leaving Morningstar in 2001, Sutton was recruited by a private equity group to assist in the turnaround of a portfolio company in the publishing industry, Corporate Legal Times, with annual sales of $4.5 million. Stepping into this situation as acting CFO, he was able to initiate accurate monthly financial reporting where there had been none, obtained clean audits for two consecutive years. Additionally, cash controls were established which allowed the company to become cash flow positive and begin servicing its debts. As a result of these changes, the company was able to be sold for 7x cash flow and 2x sales.
Enjoying working in the small company environment and looking for opportunities to help individuals, Sutton was introduced to The Podolny Group. He is now responsible for The Podolny Group’s Chicago branch operations.