CXO Conversation Podcast

CAE Mary-Margaret Henke, The Importance of Fostering Strong Relationships

This episode is Part 1 of 2 of a fascinating interview with Mary-Margaret Henke, a trailblazer executive with a wealth of knowledge gained from a multi-faceted career.


Today we will discuss building an internal coalition and support network for both personal and professional growth and promotions as well as managing the international responsibilities and relationships for a Fortune 500 company with 12,000 employees and 5.6 billion dollars in revenue.



Mary-Margaret graduated from the University of Denver and is a Certified Public Accountant. She is a member of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business executive advisory board. She started her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC as a consultant, then CoBank followed by Janus Henderson Investors as their Chief Audit Executive. She then joined Western Union and pursued several roles including CAE.


Mary-Margaret recently served as Chair of the Audit Advisory Committee on the Supervisory Board for the Western Union International Bank out of Vienna, Austria. Mary-Margaret volunteers with the learning source and was recognized as an emergent leader by the Colorado Certified Public Accountant organization in 2014.





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[1:52] Michael introduces Mary-Margaret and asks her to share an interesting tidbit about herself — she has visited 27 different countries!


THE AUDIT WORLD [4:29] Mary-Margaret shares three surprising aspects of the audit world as it relates to executives:

  1. Having access to the entire executive team
  2. Having a broad view of the organization
  3. Becoming skilled with uncomfortable conversations


REPORTING [7:19] The head of Audit in a public company is required to report to the board. Mary-Margaret touches on how that affects the relationship with the CEO.


WHAT IS A CAE? [10:36] What exactly does the Chief Audit Executive do? Mary-Margaret explains when the CAE is brought in: is it for corporate espionage? embezzlement? or even note-sliding under doors?


CAREER PATH [16:00] Mary-Margaret touches on how, and why, the head of audit position often leads to other CXO positions. She also dives into what her career path unfolded and how it brought her to where she is today.


200+ COUNTRIES [20:48] Mary-Margaret details her relationship with 50 direct reports across the globe, as well as how she kept abreast of different foreign news and laws.


[23:10] Mary-Margaret shares how Western Union works with law enforcement to thwart terrorism, drug cartel, and human trafficking cases.


SALES [26:29] Sales is the only part of the business the Chief Audit Executive doesn’t touch.


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS [27:24] Mary-Margaret explains why it’s so important to work on your relationships one-on-one, whether within the company, B2B, or with regulatory bodies. She shares a personal story of working with challenging personalities as well as how she turned the situation around.


FILLING A CXO CHAIR [31:24] Western Union is a $5 billion-plus company; Mary-Margaret talks about the recruiting process as well as how her position was involved.


PROFESSIONAL GROWTH [33:26] Mary-Margaret shares her three keys pieces of advice for scaling within a company:

  1. Hard work (all aspects of it!)
  2. Champion
  3. Luck


[37:06] Michael closes out Part 1 of this interview with Mary-Margaret Henke and invites listeners to tune into Part 2.


We hope you learned something today and enjoyed the conversation. Please give us 5 stars on iTunes and share your comments so we can improve and ask the questions you want to hear.



Western Union



Jalan Crossland for the music

Angela Johnson at OC Executive Search

Joseph Batty at Podfly

Corey Coates at Podfly


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