[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

Strome College of Business

Scott Cooke - From His Point of View

Scott Cooke is group vice president and chief financial officer for Toyota Financial Services (TFS). In this role, Cooke oversees the full range of financial planning and reporting activities for the company. Cooke earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and MBA from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He currently serves on the Dean's Executive Advisory Council.

What were your plans after college, you’ve had a successful career. Is this how you saw your life turning out?

After college my desire was to be an investment banker and live in New York. Since that time a lot has changed in the banking industry and with me. Growing up I always had a passion for cars. I had no idea that that time that I could blend my love of cars with my finance education to build a career. I have been very fortunate in both my career and in my life. I have a great family and a career that offers challenges and opportunity.

Was there a faculty member that had a lasting impact on your time at ODU?

Dr Bruce Rubin had a profound impact on me. He taught me to view the business world in terms of value. He took the time to listen and to be honest with me. I remember walking across campus with him during in my senior year. He asked what I wanted to do after graduating. I said, "I want to be an investment banker". He replied, "Who doesn't?". We laughed about it. He may not have known it at the time, but that interaction taught me that I have to take action if I want to accomplish my career goals. He has been a great mentor and friend to me over the years. Thank you, Dr Rubin.

What resources, if any did you take advantage of or wish you had taken advantage of? Why would you recommend students take advantage of the resources Strome is offering today?

I wished I would have taken greater advantage of the networking opportunities. There is no substitute for spending time with smart people and exchanging ideas. From a networking perspective, my life and career have taken me to places all around the world. I wished I would have made the effort early in my career to establish more relationships in our alumni network. It's never too late for me to get started, I guess.

What skills did you realize you needed to develop that weren’t necessarily taught in class? Such as networking, negotiation etc.

Leadership. I believe that leadership skills are the key to being successful in your career. It is difficult to learn those skills in a classroom only setting. To accomplish things that have a significant impact in the world, we will need to do it with and through the help of others. Leadership is the key to getting the important things done.

You’re on the Executive Advisory Council. How else have you gotten engaged at the University and what would you like to do?

I would like to find ways to create shared value. In whatever we can, I hope we can grow the university and student value and grow the business and social value. Make the pie bigger for both.

Taking into consideration how much the workforce has changed since you entered it, with entrepreneurship being a major conversation and push, what advice would you give to students graduating in May and those coming in this Fall?

The pace of change has been accelerating with the advancement of technology, growth in data generation & capture, and the applications of advanced analytical tools & techniques. The next generation of leaders entering in the Fall and graduation in May will need to embrace technology, data, and analytics to co-create the future. Competitive advantages will have shorter life spans. Because of this next generation leaders will need to continually evolve their thinking to compete and stay ahead.

What are 3 things you would tell your younger self going into college and right after graduating?

  1. Take action...don't attend college just to go to class. Learn something, then go apply it.
  2. Take more risks...take on something big and worthy.
  3. Make sure that you spend time with the people that you love and make them feel loved. Life is delicate, and we don't always get another chance to tell the people that we care about the most, that we love them.

What has been your greatest failure and accomplishment and what did each one teach you?

Greatest failure is allowing limits & boundaries to set my thinking. Greatest accomplishment is investment in the people around me.

Who, if anyone, opened doors for you?

There is a great quote (paraphrasing), I see further because I stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before me. I have benefitted greatly from many giants. My family, baseball coaches, teachers and professors, bosses, peers, and the people that I work beside each day have all been giants for me. Funny thing is, that most of them probably don't know just how much they give to me every day. Thanks to all of them!

What kind of leader would you consider yourself to be and how do you go about developing future leaders?

I strive to be a good member of a high performing team. Sometimes that means being out in front showing others the way. Other times it is following and playing a different role to accomplish the team's goals. I want to be a trusted member of a team that wants to make a difference in the world and strives for excellence. Developing future leaders is about identifying others who want to participate on high performing teams and are willing to take the same approach. It is amazing what happens when you put smart, selfless people together on a team with a common goal.

What advice would you give for maintaining a work-life balance?

This is a topic that I have spent many years studying for myself. It can be a constant challenge. I think the key is to be clear about your own definition of success. The goal is to have a successful life, not just a successful career. When viewed through that lens, it makes decisions and tradeoffs easier. For me that means taking off from work to enjoy as many baseball practices and school plays as possible with my boys, or I am protecting family movie and scrabble nights at home. That also means late nights before and after these events to make sure that I do what is need for the team at work. It doesn't always work out perfectly. It won't happen on its own, so you have to create balance. Once you find the right balance for you, then you have to actively manage it.

You just started a new role as CFO, what goals have you made for yourself now?

In my new role I have a few goals:

  1. Grow value - value for Toyota, our customers, and the communities in which we operate around the world. Our company is shifting from a car company to mobility company, and I want to help contribute to that transformation.
  2. Be a good leader and help those around me reach their full potential
  3. Remember that success for me is also having a happy, healthy family

You’ve been with Toyota since 2003. Millennials and generations thereafter have been known for moving around from company to company without the “loyalty” other generations had. Would you recommend exploring options or finding a good company to stay with?

You should find an environment that allows you to grow and contribute in a way that aligns with your values and goals. I am very fortune that Toyota has provided that for me.

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.