Tim Slottow: With wide-ranging responsibilities, CFO strikes balance with work, family

By: Kyle Swanson
Managing Editor, Michigan Daily
Published March 10th, 2011
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Many high-profile executives — individuals who have influence over multi-billion dollar corporations — hold high-stakes meetings throughout the day and are often unapproachable by those who don’t work directly with them.

timslottowAnd while the university’s executive vice president and chief financial officer could easily fit into this category — having wide-ranging responsibility for a $5.2 billion enterprise — Timothy Slottow couldn’t be more of an exception.

There’s something different about Slottow, something that makes it almost impossible to believe he is one of the most powerful leaders at a corporation as large as the university, unless you see his business card. From the second he shakes your hand and greets you with a hometown smile, he seems too down to earth for someone in his position.

But then again, that’s not a bad thing. Not at all.

Whether Slottow’s balanced personality is the result of his upbringing, diverse work history or family that keeps him well grounded, having someone of his caliber and character in one of the top posts at the university is one way to ensure the institution’s success.

'We Make Blue Go'

With Slottow’s title as executive vice president and CFO, it’s easy to think of him as the university’s top accountant. And while that may be true for Slottow’s role as CFO, being one of three executive vice presidents at the university means his responsibility is much more far-reaching.

Slottow’s fellow executive vice presidents are Philip Hanlon, the university’s provost who oversees all academic operations at the university, and Ora Pescovitz, the executive vice president of medical affairs who is in charge of the University of Michigan Health System and other medical enterprises at the university like the Medical School. Slottow is in charge of everything else.

Collectively, Slottow’s areas of responsibility are commonly called Business & Finance. This includes thousands of university employees who help to support the work conducted by the university faculty and students in the medical and academic spheres.

Without the Business & Finance group, campus would look dramatically different. Computer labs would not exist, and no university employee would have a computer at his or her desk. But that wouldn’t matter, since buildings wouldn’t be powered or cleaned, and employees wouldn’t be paid for their work. That’s because the university’s Business & Finance division handles essentially all non-academic and non-medical tasks at the university, including building construction and maintenance, information technology services, investment management and human resources operations.

The Typical day...
Balancing work and family

Though he works long work hours and is never truly being “off-the-clock,” Slottow is a family man. It may be difficult at times for him to spend as much time as he might want to with his children — all of whom are now in college — or his wife, but it’s clear he has found a way to make everything work.

Sitting in his office during an interview, Slottow shows off pictures of his children displayed on his desk. They’re a little out-of-date now, he admits, proudly sharing what each child is doing now.

His eldest daughter is a graduate of the university’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance and is now pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin. His son is an Engineering junior at the University of Michigan and an active member of the Parkour Club on campus. And Slottow’s youngest daughter is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at a small music college in St. Paul, Minn.

Though their academic endeavors may separate Slottow from seeing his children as much as he would like, it’s clear Slottow makes every effort to spend time with his kids — even if it’s just swinging by Zingerman’s Deli between meetings to have a quick lunch with his son.

Having celebrated his silver anniversary last summer, Slottow is also very devoted to his wife, who is a reconnective healing practitioner, an artist and a competitive ballroom dancer.

But Slottow’s wife isn’t the only one with a dancing gene. Slottow enjoys spending some time on the dance floor too. The proof is on YouTube, where there’s a video of Slottow and his wife dancing on the stage of the Michigan Theater at a benefit for the Make A Wish Foundation of Michigan, an organization for which Slottow also sits on the board of directors.

And while dancing may provide a common competitive activity for Slottow and his wife, the entire family has pursued another activity — tae kwon do. Each member of Slottow’s family has a black belt.

Perhaps that statement should be clarified though, as neither Jack nor Nala — the Slottow family’s two dogs — have black belts, though both are very much a part of the family. In fact, while showing off the pictures and trinkets that line the bookshelf in his office, Slottow points to a party invitation sent to some of his senior staff members that jokes about how much the dogs are considered part of the family.
Slottow also enjoys hitting the tennis courts, though the executive, who is humble about his abilities and accomplishments, insists he’s not yet skilled enough to play competitively.

“I practice enough to be competitive, but so far, I am not good enough to actually be competitive,” Slottow said. “But I enjoy getting the exercise, learning a new sport and meeting folks from all walks of life who are crazed about tennis.”

As if his interests weren’t well-rounded enough, Slottow also plays classical guitar. And though he doesn’t show off his musical talents on YouTube, Slottow makes an appearance in and is the subject of the lyrics in his youngest daughter’s original music video “Don’t Be My Hero.”

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