SMITH BUSINESS Magazine
Volume 13 No. 1 SPRING 2012

Bob Roath ‘66
Chairman of the Board, Standard Parking

What I do: Elected by the shareholders to create value and oversee strategy and corporate governance for Standard Parking. “The company manages parking facilities and transportation services—at over 2,000 major facilities, more than a million parking spaces, 12,000 employees. There’s tremendous growth potential because most facilities prefer to outsource their parking services, and there’s a lot of technological innovation.”

Education: Joined the Air Force at 17 to earn money for college. Served for two years in Tripoli, Libya, as a “pole jockey”—a telephone lineman and antenna specialist. Enrolled at Smith (then the College of Business and Management) in 1964. Graduated in 1966 with BA in accounting and economics.

Big break: His b-school professors arranged for Roath to interview with Price Waterhouse despite the fact that the interview schedule was full. They hired him even though they thought he was nuts for wanting to go to NYC. Why would anyone want to leave Maryland?

1973: “I found I was more of a do-er than an auditor.” Went to GAF as assistant corporate controller.

1975: Went to General Foods. Rose from assistant corporate controller to CFO and VP of business development for General Foods Canada and was heavily involved in mergers and acquisitions.

1988: Went to Colgate-Palmolive as vice president and corporate controller.

The offer he couldn’t refuse: In 1990, Roath became part of the management team at RJRNabisco after KKR won the company in the largest leveraged buyout in history. Being part of “The Barbarians at the Gate” was the most challenging and exciting game in town. He became CFO and took early retirement in 1997.

Big challenge: Avoiding accounting tricks and “gimmicks” (such as leveraged derivatives , structured financings, etc.) that caused the crash and burn of so many companies like Enron and Tyco.

Proudest moments: Worked with the Roundabout Theater as part of the NYC Redevelopment in the 1990s to save it from shutting down. “Running the NYC marathon with my daughter in 1998.”

What I’m Excited About: “We recently acquired a company called Click-n-Park. When you buy your ticket for a sporting event or concert online, you can also purchase a parking spot.”

Big Tip: Do what’s right for the long-term health of the business by keeping an eye on mega trends, and don’t look to short term quick-fixes.

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