Sam Stroud, 36
Senior director of corporate finance, Dana Inc.
Big break: Cutting his teeth in investment banking in New York and Chicago
The rise of electrification and the coronavirus pandemic have had a big impact on Sam Stroud’s role at Dana Inc.
Stroud, the company’s senior director of corporate finance, is tasked with building a complete portfolio of electrodynamic capabilities as well as maintaining the supplier’s long-term financial forecast.
When he joined Dana in 2018, he had set out to build a more standard long-term financial model to get its forecasting capabilities beyond the one- to three-year plan typical of a finance organization.
As he was working on that, the pandemic hit. “And the scope of that project turned into something quite different,” he said.
The company needed to make sure it had the capital structure and cash flow to cover a wide range of scenarios.
“Back in March and April last year, the spectrum of where this could have gone economically and financially for a company like Dana was all over the map,” Stroud said.
He shifted the company’s forecast model to be able to quickly accommodate any and all situations, whether that meant full production shutdowns for months across various markets and different types of downturns, or full and quick recoveries.
In doing so, the Tier 1 supplier has been able to better understand what safety nets it did or did not need to have in place.
At the same time, the industry’s focus on electrification has also changed Stroud’s role “pretty significantly,” he said. It led Dana to shift its mergers-and-acquisitions focus and its investment strategy more toward electrification.
Dana was on a path toward building its electrification portfolio organically before the company hired Stroud. He found an opportunity to more quickly expand the portfolio while getting electrification talent into the organization and working to get ahead of the market’s rapid growth, he said.
In looking at acquisition opportunities, Dana wanted to make sure it had the full spectrum covered. “And now that we feel like we’ve sort of gotten there, we’re able to look at things more opportunistically and really hone in on which ones are the best growth prospects and really have a chance to take off,” Stroud said.
He said starting his career in investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York and Chicago helped prepare him for his complex and crucial tasks at Dana.
“That was a very intense, let’s say, crash course in all of the aspects of financial modeling and valuation that really allowed me to hone my skills,” Stroud said.
— David Muller