Golden State Warriors CFO Jennifer Cabalquinto Is a Warrior for Women
May 22, 2019
On Monday night, the Golden State Warriors basketball team secured a coveted trip to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year, a feat unequaled by any team since the 1960s. Despite a number of serious injuries requiring major changes in the lineup, the Warriors battled through the playoffs like the golden champs they are. Warriors CFO Jennifer Cabalquinto is, herself, no stranger to battling her way to the top. Thriving in a male-dominated field, she’s a key executive behind the powerhouse basketball franchise, running its finance and accounting operations and managing the development of the billion-dollar Chase Center, the first 100 percent privately financed modern sports arena and the Warriors’ new home, which opens in San Francisco in September. She also serves as treasurer of the Warriors Community Foundation, which focuses on building thriving communities and supporting Bay Area youth.
Born in the Philippines, Cabalquinto today is one of the highest-ranking Filipinas in the corporate world. “When I first joined the Warriors in 2013, I became the third female CFO,” she told Sports Business Journal last year. “Now there are just two of us. I do feel a certain amount of responsibility. This job is higher profile than previous jobs I have had. I have four brothers, and I have been competing with them my whole life.”
The #MeToo movement has provoked renewed discussion of the benefits of having women in leadership positions, but women in the C-suite are still rare. Cabalquinto says the time for women leaders has come. “Being in a room with only men is something I am used to, and that comes from how I was brought up. I meet young women in particular who don’t realize that there are opportunities in STEM and math, and that you can couple it with industries like entertainment and sports. There are real opportunities in roles that I have.”
On May 29, The Asia Foundation will present Cabalquinto with the Lotus Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for their contributions to women’s and girls’ empowerment. Cabalquinto is extraordinary for her personal accomplishments, for breaking down barriers and inspiring other women to become leaders, and for her tremendous advocacy of gender equality, diversity, and inclusion, in the workplace and beyond.
In an interview with BizJournals.com, Cabalquinto said the best way to help women succeed in business is “mentorship and sponsorship of other women, but also coaching male colleagues to help them see the unconscious bias they may be exhibiting—in a nonthreatening way, of course.”
Cabalquinto was one of five children in a Filipino family that she describes as wholly nonpatriarchal. Her mother was college educated and “very empowered,” and Jennifer was encouraged equally with her four brothers. When she was four, her accountant father moved to the United States in search of a better future for the family. Within a year, she and her mother and brothers came to join him. She vividly recalls the seven of them living in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, all trying to learn English. Following in her father’s footsteps, she majored in accounting at SUNY–Binghamton, but she believes it was her minor in East Asian studies that opened the door to her first big break, at the accounting firm EY. She’s also extremely grateful to her parents for the risks they took and the sacrifices they made for their children.
Life, she says, is like a triangle. “The broader the base, the higher the point can be.”
As for the Warriors, we’ll just have to wait and see if they can clinch the championship again this year. The NBA Finals kick off on May 30, the day after Cabalquinto receives her Lotus Leadership Award.
Amy Ovalle is The Asia Foundation’s vice president for global communications. She can be reached at [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, not those of The Asia Foundation.
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