Chief Financial Officer
Essex Industries, Inc.
Location: St. Louis, MO
Industry: Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing
As the CFO of Essex, Todd Waldman has a job that could be intimidating to people as a “numbers person” dealing in complicated subjects. But Waldman believes his job is best executed when he can teach others in a straightforward and approachable way.
“I’ve always had a knack for numbers and a passion for people,” he said. And it shows in the way he leads.
Essex Industries has designed and manufactured mission-critical aerospace and defense products since 1947. With operating locations in St. Louis, Missouri; Milford, Connecticut; and Huntington Beach, California, Essex supports every major fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft around the world with its platform controls, aircraft components, liquid oxygen equipment and emergency breathing equipment.
Before joining Essex, Waldman gained crucial client-facing experience in the public accounting sector, where he said he “learned the value of listening to customers and forging meaningful relationships.” Public accounting also provided Waldman with various domestic and international opportunities to experience and appreciate many cultures and work styles.
After his time in public accounting, Waldman accepted roles in the accounting and audit departments within private sector aerospace and defense manufacturers. This outstanding, hands-on experience provided lessons in manufacturing, process and being a good communicator across multiple functional departments.
Eventually, he accepted a role at Essex as the Director of Accounting. It was here that he really became adept at translating his accounting knowledge into useful information that managers across the business could use to inform their actions and decision-making.
Specifically, he sees the value in taking time to carefully explain how the financial statements work to his non-financial colleagues, as he knows they can make the best business decisions possible when they can see the full picture.
“The most important risk I have taken in my career was having the courage to stand up to senior leadership for what is morally and ethically appropriate,” he said. “Taking this risk showed me first-hand that decent people with a clear moral compass can succumb to pressures in the workplace that they would otherwise resist in their personal lives. This lesson has helped shape and inform my leadership style and decision-making process.”
Waldman was appointed CFO in 2020 and has been instrumental in leading Essex’s accounting, finance and IT/IS departments to prepare for taking the business to the next level. His leadership helped the business to streamline back-end office processes, conduct due diligence and integrate acquired companies, and launch a new ERP system that will be a foundation for day-to-day business execution as well as a component of fostering future growth.
Todd is always looking for ways to give back. He has participated for many years with the Essex bike team by training, riding and donating to Pedal the Cause, which is a charity bike ride with the mission of creating a world without cancer. One year Todd had the unfortunate experience of riding much of the event course on a pair of flat tires. What a guy!