Alexandra (Sandy) Sarge
Over 22 years of collaborative financial, operational, and technical leadership experience most recently in the proprietary higher education industry. Successful in building teams of proactive, customer-oriented staff in areas of accounting, finance, financial aid, business analysis and special cross-functional operational projects. Focused on efficient, accurate work product that enhances executive decision-making and operational effectiveness through forecasts, metrics analyses and end-to-end business understanding. Able to identify control and efficiency weaknesses and offer timely, cross-functional recommendations for improvement. Capable of managing external vendor relations to ensure maximum student/customer satisfaction within budget. Always compliance oriented.
•In-depth understanding of proprietary higher education business process from student acquisition to regulatory reporting through graduate placement and cohort default management. Expert in Financial Aid regulations and GAAP accounting rules. Able to assess process weaknesses and opportunities for improved efficiency, cost savings or enhanced compliance.
•Strong, honest and results-oriented leader, able to function in high stress, high demand situations. Specialized in collaborating with cross-functional business units to establish efficient, compliant, and cost effective business processes while focusing on company goals and needs of customers.
•Consensus builder who brings together individual contributors to create high functioning work teams. Able to inspire loyalty and maximum performance through leading by example, mentoring and training staff, and managing conflicts to mutually accepted resolution.
•Solid grasp of information technology including the use of database management, systems integration and data integrity to enhance results and compliance. Managed Business Analysts in past and clearly understand the communication gaps as well as bridges needed to maximize technology within business units.
•Ability to negotiate and execute external partner contracts while maintaining solid working relationships to benefit end users (i.e. students), including 3rd party servicers, distributors, publishers and content providers.
•Strong conviction to “doing what’s right” and challenging established protocol for the good of the long-term success of an organization.
SA®GE ADVISORS, LLC
October 2012 – current
Consulting firm specializing in troubleshooting operational, financial and instructional processes for proprietary higher education institutions as well as identifying opportunities to improve cash flows, financial results, process efficiencies or compliance/audit outcomes.
✴Contracted as Interim Chief Financial Officer, responsible for Finance and Financial Aid departments
•Reported to CEO and member of Executive Management Team during engagement. Open lines of communication with Board members, investors, 3rd party service providers and the Department of Education.
•Overtook management of a multi-finding Department of Education Program Review covering 3.5 award years and over 900 unique student records, gathering more than 550,000 data elements. Managed up to 15 staff while coordinating the attestation process with two separate national audit firms. Delivered all finding results, including six findings with 100% file review requirement in 6 weeks. College is awaiting final determination.
•Managed the Heightened Cash Monitoring (“HCM2”) process for the last 4 of 5 submissions. Increased funding requests from less than $300,000 per submission to over $800,000. Reduced 1st pass error rate from over 45% to as low as 10%. Reduced funding cycle by 25 days (48%).
•Restructured Financial Aid department, recruiting new leadership, cleaning up data discrepancies between internal and 3rd party servicers systems, redefining process flows to increase accuracy, staff efficiencies and controls. Located, validated and reconciled over 500 student records to ensure accurate reporting and more thorough ongoing student management. Initiated the preparation of the 2012 Financial Aid audit and organized a full file review of all 2012 Title IV transactions.
•Oversaw the Accounting and Finance department for 3 months. Prepared initial drafts of 2013 financial budget within 15 days of start date. Prepared and presented cash flow forecasts, identified areas of weakness and internal control issues and helped correct 2012 financial statements prior to transitioning function to a new Shared Services partner.
✴Contracted as Finance Specialist and Project Lead, responsible for internal Financial Aid file review and resource management
•Hired by Board of Director and Investment member.
•Collaborated with Assistant Vice President of Financial Aid in the coordination, project development and resource management of a multi-year file review of consisting of over 3,000 student Accounts Receivable records.
•Managed up to 12 file reviewers and support staff in 4 locations to ensure timely and efficient review process and expedient resolution of issues noted.
•Located, assembled and reviewed over 350,000 data points encompassing more than 1,900 Title IV recipients, over $4M of funding across two award years and multiple source documents into spreadsheet format for submission to auditors for 100% attestation.
•Helped with the design and testing of new Access databases needed to recreate 2012 and 2013 records and ensure ongoing ledger maintenance and accuracy during systems conversion.
✴Contracted as Finance and Operations Specialist, responsible for an in-depth review and report of the finance/operational capabilities
•Hired by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and Chief Operating Officer to assess the management capabilities of all areas of the operations, focusing particularly on finance for a non-profit, nationally accredited university.
•Within 30 days, was able to meet with all members of management and key operational leaders and evaluate the interdepartmental operational strength and weaknesses, as well as assess the capabilities of the finance department in providing accurate and informative board reports, financial statements, and cash projections.
•Prepared and provided an in-depth report of current state of affairs and key recommendations to help improve reliability of financial reports, as well as strategies to enhance the long-term viability and success of the university. Received high praise from members of the Board and the COO for the comprehensiveness and vision of the report.
ALTA COLLEGES, INC.
Senior Vice President – Finance (promoted from Divisional CFO in 2011)
May 2007 – October 2012
Reported to COO (and previously, to Divisional President) and was responsible for overseeing the preparation, accuracy and timeliness of all financial analytics, including Board materials, annual budgets, monthly forecasts, and ad hoc reports needed to enhance operational decision making. Key accomplishments included:
•Expanding responsibilities for all financial oversight from 17 campuses to 19 campuses and over 20 administrative departments as well as all financial reporting to executive and board level audiences (over $400M in revenue).
•Reducing annual budgeting process time from over 8 months to less than 4 months while enhancing accuracy.
•Creating campus level monthly forecasting process to enable insight into operational trends to support executive decisions and timely operational adjustments to meet targets.
•Offering critical curriculum conversion analytics and recommendations that saved company over $40M of potential lost revenue.
•Initiating cross functional project team to assess and resolve tuition discrepancies caused by inconsistent application of policies, saving the company over $5-10M in annual lost revenue and ensuring better accuracy in financial aid administration.
•Implementing internal review process to audit Title IV refund checks to ensure compliance to policies and reduced error rate.
•Establishing business modeling and decentralized analytical support teams to assist campus leadership in better understanding operational metrics and providing more accurate forecasts.
Non-Higher Education Experience
W.J. BRADLEY COMPANY MERCHANT PARTNERS, LLC
Chief Financial Officer
January 2006 – Feb 2007
HOME AMERICAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION (a division of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc.)
Vice President – Finance and Chief Financial Officer – Compliance Officer
April 2003 – August 2005
AURORA LOAN SERVICES, INC. (an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.)
Senior Vice President and Controller
April 1999 – April 2003
Interim Treasurer and Director of Warehouse Lending
January 2002 – May 2002
RESOURCE BANCSHARES MORTGAGE GROUP, INC.
Columbia, South Carolina
Vice President – Business Analysis
April 1998 – April 1999
Assistant Vice President – Mortgage Bank Accounting
February 1996 – April 1998
PRICE WATERHOUSE LLP
Columbia, South Carolina
CPA and Staff Auditor
1993 – 1996
(CPA license held for 10 years in good standing, currently inactive)
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Columbia, South Carolina
MASTER OF ACCOUNTANCY – Auditing/Cost Accounting
Recipient of Outstanding Graduate Student Award
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
College Station, Texas
BACHELOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION – Marketing/Behavioral Sciences
Top 10% of Marketing Students, Recipient of Quaker Oats Minority Scholarship
Trainings and Memberships
Regions PCCS – Region VII and Region VIII, IX, X 2014 Financial Aid Conferences
Department of Education 2013 FSA Training Conference
APSCU 2013 Annual Convention and Expo
National Association of Professional Women – Member and Recipient of the 2014 Executive Woman of the Year Award