Sean Hennessy '80 earns CFO honor


University of Akron alumnus Sean Hennessy was named Chief Financial Officer of the Year in the public company category during an awards ceremony October 23 at the Cleveland Convention Center. The honor was bestowed as part of the Crain’s-sponsored CFO of the Year competition, now in its eighth year, which recognizes the region’s best and brightest financial minds.

Sean Hennessy '80

Hennessy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The University of Akron in 1980, is CFO and senior vice president of finance at The Sherwin-Williams Company, where he has served for more than 30 years. At Sherwin-Williams, a publicly traded company with annual revenue of $11 billion and 45,000 employees worldwide, Hennessy oversees the finance and accounting functions and plays a role in strategic planning, business development, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations.

Noted for his business acumen, Hennessy is described by Sherwin-Williams CEO Christopher Connor as a “skilled business partner” who can “identify and solve complex business issues” and whose work has helped the company achieve recognition for total shareholder return. In fact, since 2002, a year after Hennessy became CFO, company revenue has doubled and gross margins, cash, and profit before tax have improved – helping the stock price, over the same period, increase to more than $200 per share from around $20 per share.

Thankfully, Sherwin-Williams isn’t the only beneficiary of Hennessy’s expertise. He has served as a board member of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, and Business Volunteers Unlimited; and he has volunteered with St. Edward High School and the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.

What’s more, Hennessy is a University of Akron benefactor whose most recent gift – used earlier this year to purchase access to the cloud-based Wharton Research Data Service – helped students in the George W. Daverio School of Accountancy at UA sweep the top spots in the 2014 Ohio Region Student Manuscript Competition, sponsored by the American Accounting Association.

The award-winning College of Business Administration at The University of Akron is accredited at the highest level with a national and global reputation as a top-100 business school, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Princeton Review, and the Public Accounting Report.