©2019 by SARGE Advisors LLC. 

SARGE Advisors LLC

Financial, Operational & Executive Advisors for Higher Ed

Testimonials

Testimonials

Services

C-LEVEL INTERIM LEADERSHIP

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT

AUDIT AND REVIEW MANAGEMENT

DATA ACCUMULATION AND REPORTING

INVESTOR DUE DILIGENCE

BOARD AND INVESTOR-REQUESTED ASSESSMENT

 
 
Finance Consultancy

Audit & Review Management

RETAIN OBJECTIVE, SEASONED EXPERTS TO ASSIST OR MANAGE CRITICAL COMPLIANCE PROCESSES SUCH AS RECERTIFICATION, ANNUAL AUDIT PREPARATION, PROGRAM REVIEW RESPONSES

DATA ACCUMULATION AND REPORTING

  • FULFILL DATA REQUESTS FROM REGULATORY AGENCIES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IN A FORMAT THAT TELLS YOUR STORY

  • CREATE CENTRAL DATA REPOSITORIES THAT COMBINE OPERATIONAL, EDUCATIONAL AND FINANCIAL ELEMENTS TO ENHANCE EXECUTIVE DECISION MAKING

  • CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT – FROM RESEARCH TO CERTIFICATION

  • AUDIT AND REVIEW MANAGEMENT – RECERTIFICATION, ANNUAL AUDIT PREPARATION, PROGRAM REVIEW RESPONSES

  • DATA ACCUMULATION AND REPORTING – FULFILLMENT OF DATA REQUESTS FROM REGULATORY AGENCIES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • INVESTOR DUE DILIGENCE – EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATIVE REVIEW OF POTENTIAL INVESTMENTS IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION ARENA

  • BOARD AND INVESTOR-REQUESTED ASSESSMENT – INTERNAL REVIEWS FROM AN OBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE

Discussing the Numbers

INVESTOR DUE DILIGENCE

EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATIVE REVIEW OF POTENTIAL INVESTMENTS IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION ARENA, PROVIDING BOTH TRADITIONAL ANALYSES AS WELL AS OUT-OF-THE-BOX QUALITATIVE ELEMENTS THAT DIFFERENTIATE EXCEPTIONAL VS AVERAGE OPPORTUNITIES

BOARD AND INVESTOR-REQUESTED ASSESSMENT

INTERNAL REVIEWS FROM AN OBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE HELPS ENSURE TEAMS ARE MEETING THE EVER CHANGING NEEDS AND DEMANDS OF THE ORGANIZATION. ASSESSMENTS INCLUDE WRITTEN REPORT RECAPPING CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS, SWOT ANALYSES, AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO ADVANCE INSTITUTIONAL SUCCESS

Strategizing

C-Level Interim Leadership

  • IN THE AREAS OF FINANCE, OPERATIONS, ACADEMICS, FINANCIAL AID, WE OFFER EXPERIENCED LEADERS DURING TRANSITIONS, LOSS OF KEY PERSONNEL OR TIMES OF EXPANSION.

  • OBTAIN KEY HIRING INSIGHTS AND TRAINING TO NEW EXECUTIVES

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT

  • FROM RESEARCH TO CERTIFICATION, OUR TEAM CAN MOVE YOUR PROGRAMS FROM CONCEPT TO IMPLEMENTATION WITH CREATIVITY, ACCURACY AND SPEED

 

  • C-LEVEL INTERIM LEADERSHIP – FINANCE, OPERATIONS, ACADEMICS, FINANCIAL AID

 

  • CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT – FROM RESEARCH TO CERTIFICATION

  • AUDIT AND REVIEW MANAGEMENT – RECERTIFICATION, ANNUAL AUDIT PREPARATION, PROGRAM REVIEW RESPONSES

 

  • DATA ACCUMULATION AND REPORTING – FULFILLMENT OF DATA REQUESTS FROM REGULATORY AGENCIES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 

  • INVESTOR DUE DILIGENCE – EXTENSIVE INVESTIGATIVE REVIEW OF POTENTIAL INVESTMENTS IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION ARENA

  • BOARD AND INVESTOR-REQUESTED ASSESSMENT – INTERNAL REVIEWS FROM AN OBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE

Implementation Planning

Leadership Roles

C-LEVEL INTERIM MANAGEMENT

DO NOT LOSE THE MOMENTUM DUE TO THE LOSS OF A CRITICAL C-LEVEL MANAGER. INTERIM SUPPORT IS NECESSARY TO INSTILL CONFIDENCE IN BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONSTITUENTS WHILE ENHANCING THE HIRING COMMITTEE’S ABILITY TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LONG TERM REPLACEMENT. WHETHER THE NEED IS IN FINANCE, OPERATIONS OR ACADEMICS, MOMENTUM MUST BE MAINTAINED AND OTHER EXECUTIVES ALLOWED TO KEEP FOCUSED ON THEIR TASKS WITHOUT THE BURDEN OF TAKING ON THE DUTIES OF A VACANT POSITION.

 

PARALLEL LEADERSHIP

 

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN A COMPANY NEEDS TO FOCUS ON BOTH THE DAILY OPERATIONS AND MAJOR ONE-TIME PROJECTS THAT ARE CRITICAL TO FUTURE SUCCESS. OFTEN THOUGH, TEAMS ARE FULLY TAXED WITH THEIR DAILY WORK AND CANNOT TAKE ON MORE AND STILL PRODUCE EXCELLENT RESULTS IN ALL AREAS. SOMETHING INEVITABLY SUFFERS – WORK QUALITY, DEADLINES, STAFF ATTITUDES OR TEAM DYNAMICS. OVERWORKED, UNDER-APPRECIATED, AND OFTEN HELD TO IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS (“EVERYTHING IS OUR #1 PRIORITY!!”), STAFF CAN BECOME DISILLUSIONED, LESS PRODUCTIVE, AND BITTER. BRINGING IN PARALLEL LEADERSHIP, ONE OR MORE HIGHLY EXPERIENCED EXPERTS TO ASSIST IN SHORT-TERM PROJECTS, IS THE SOLUTION. BY PROVIDING TEMPORARY SUPPORT TO THE INTERNAL TEAM, A COMPANY ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THERE ARE LIMITS TO WHAT ONE CAN EXPECT AND THAT IT IS COMMITTED TO THE SUCCESS OF NOT ONLY THE BOTTOM LINE, BUT OF ITS EMPLOYEES TOO.

DUE DILIGENCE

 

THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL INVESTMENT IS KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE BUYING AND THE RISKS INVOLVED WITH THE ACQUISITION. OFTEN TIMES, DUE DILIGENCE TEAMS ARE MADE UP OF FINANCIAL ANALYSTS WITH LITTLE TO NO DIRECT EXPERIENCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION. OR, THE TEAM INCLUDES BUSINESS EXPERTS WHO HAVE LITTLE DIRECT EXPERIENCE WITH FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OR WITH ASKING QUESTIONS. INVESTMENTS IN SCHOOL ARE NOT YOUR TYPICAL 3-5 YEAR INVESTMENT; IT IS A COMMITMENT TO MORE THAN JUST MAKING MONEY. AND IT MEANS ANSWERING TO MANY PARTIES WHO EXPECT YOU TO “BE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL.” THESE INCLUDE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE REGULATORY AGENCIES, STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY, ALUMNI. A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION OF A SCHOOL’S FINANCIAL DEALINGS AND RECORDS IS JUST THE BEGINNING. IT ALSO INCLUDES UNDERSTANDING THE CULTURE YOU ARE BUYING AND THE TEAM YOU ARE INHERITING. IT IS KNOWING THAT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG LATER, YOU CAN’T JUST WALK AWAY. INVESTING IN HIGHER EDUCATION IS MORE LIKE INVESTING IN A MARRIAGE – IT’S A LOT OF HARD WORK, THE OUTCOMES MAY BE LESS THAN YOU EXPECTED, AND THE REWARDS ARE OFTEN FOUND IN THE LITTLE THINGS, NOT THE BIG EVENTS. ARE YOU UP FOR IT AND DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM LOOKING AT IT FOR YOU?

 
 
 

Resources - 90/10

Bio

 

 

Degrees

Master of Accountancy from University of South Carolina (Graduate Student of the Year) – 1991

Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University (minor in Behavior Sciences) – 1984

 

Previous Licenses and memberships held include:
CPA License – State of South Carolina
Series 7 and Series 63 Licenses
Member – AICPA

 

Sandy began her accounting career working for Price Waterhouse. Upon leaving public accounting 3 years later with her CPA license, Sandy worked in the mortgage banking industry for over 14 years, progressing from Accounting Manager to Chief Financial Officer within 10 years. Within this industry, Sandy has worked for large publicly held companies such as Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, Inc. (“RBMG”, which later became NetBank), Aurora Loan Services, Inc. (a deconsolidated subsidiary of Lehman Brothers, Inc.) and HomeAmerican Mortgage (mortgage branch of Richmond American Homes, Inc.) as well as small privately held, entrepreneurial firms (WJ Bradley Merchant Partners, LLC). Sandy’s primary responsibilities centered on the compliant operations of Finance and Accounting, delivering accurate and timely financial statements and reports to executive and Board audiences as well as hiring, training and mentoring team of up to 25 staff members and supporting up to 5 branch locations across the country. Sandy also provided oversight to other operational areas including Human Resources, Treasury, Warehouse Lending and Facilities. During her years in this field, Sandy held positions outside of finance for short periods of time at the request of executive management. These positions included Vice President of Business Analysis (RBMG), Compliance Officer (HomeAmerican Mortgage) and Vice President of Finance (Builder division of Richmond America Homes).

In 2007, Sandy shifted her career to the Proprietary Higher Education arena and joined Alta Colleges, Inc. as the Divisional CFO for the Westwood College brand of ground campuses (17 schools in 6 states). Although Sandy directly reported to the System CFO, her principle supervisor was the President of Westwood Colleges (ground division). In this role, Sandy oversaw the annual budgeting process for all 17 campuses with over $250M in revenue, created and oversaw the monthly forecasting and reported operational key metrics and financial results to executive and Board audiences.

Sandy’s role expanded to Senior Vice President – Operational Finance when 3 divisions were merged together and now included financial oversight of Westwood College Online, Redstone College (cumulative revenue of over $400M) and over 20 Central Administration overhead departments, partnering primarily with the COO. Throughout her tenure, Sandy was an active member or team lead of several internal operational projects such a process improvement vetting team, centralizing student financial aid operations, and the enhancing and improvement of controls for census date cut-off and proper billing of students. She also was responsible for the vendor selection process and implementation of a system-wide Virtual Bookstore solution. Sandy worked closely with the System CFO to provide 5 Year Planning models, budgets and financial statement reports to outside partners such as investors, banks, Board of Directors and was a regular attendee of executive meetings and strategic planning sessions.

In 2012, Sandy made the personal and professional decision to leave Alta Colleges to open a consulting firm, SA®GE Advisors, LLC, with the goal of helping higher educational institutions through operational, financial or compliance projects to better their opportunities for success. Some key consulting projects included working directly with the Department of Education and outside compliance auditors in large Program Reviews, perfecting and monitoring the Heightened Cash Monitoring II process for timely and compliant cash funding, and overseeing audits in both Finance and Financial Aid. Most recently, Sandy was hired to assist in a complete system rebuild of Student Accounts Receivable database and to manage a 100% file review of financial aid recipients over two award years in order to identify, correct and report any noncompliance of funding eligibility caused by the system failure.

 

 

Curriculum Vitae

Alexandra (Sandy) Sarge

 

Executive Summary

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.

 

Skills

 

•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.

 

Value-Add Overview

 

SA®GE ADVISORS, LLC
Denver, Colorado
President
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.
Denver, Colorado
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
Denver, Colorado
Chief Financial Officer
January 2006 – Feb 2007

 

HOME AMERICAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION (a division of M.D.C. Holdings, Inc.)
Denver, Colorado
Vice President – Finance and Chief Financial Officer – Compliance Officer
April 2003 – August 2005

 

AURORA LOAN SERVICES, INC. (an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.)
Denver, Colorado
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)

 

Education

 

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Columbia, South Carolina
MASTER OF ACCOUNTANCY – Auditing/Cost Accounting
August 1993
Recipient of Outstanding Graduate Student Award

 

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
College Station, Texas
BACHELOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION – Marketing/Behavioral Sciences
December 1984

 

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

 

Testimonials

 

Sandy and her team were quick to help when we called requesting consultant services on a fast approaching deadline to a program review response. They hit the ground running and stepped in immediately to help provide relief. Her expertise and calm demeanor helped immensely by providing clarification and guidance throughout the rest of the process. The technical knowledge that her and her team possess helped bridge the gap between our Information Technology Department and Financial Aid Staff. She also helped with communication between the university and the Department of Education, which was extremely helpful.

 

 

Thank you again for all your help. We would not have been able to accomplish the task at hand without you.

 

Brandon Ritchey

Director of Financial Aid

Adult and Graduate Studies

Ohio Christian University

                      ______________________________________________________________________________________

 

“Shortly after purchasing a new business unit, we dropped Sandy in the mix as an interim controller with projects ranging from accounting integration to policy development.  Sandy jumped in with both feet to address issues head on at full speed.  Her experience and professionalism drove consistently positive outcomes.”

Peter Harris,CEO, Spartan College of Aeronautics & Technology

                     _______________________________________________________________________________________    

“I had the pleasure of working with Sandy Sarge on an extensive student financial aid file review project for a mutual client.  The project addressed several complex issues and covered multiple financial aid award years.  I was thoroughly impressed with Sandy’s technical capabilities and project management skills and look forward to working with her again.”

Joe Weworski  Managing Partner of Weworski & Associates

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

I have had the pleasure to work with Sandy both as teammates at a major college, and also as colleagues on consulting projects.  Sandy is whip smart and brings tremendous value to any project she touches both through her creative problem solving, and also through her knowledge and expertise.  She’s also got a great sense of humor, which can be invaluable on any project!” 

M.Lanaghen, CEO, The Sparrow Group

_____________________________________________________________________________________

“I have worked with Sandy Sarge on several projects related to the financial management of educational facilities and found her to be a strong leader willing to “roll her sleeves up” and get in the middle of the chaos to push forward to an effective conclusion.   It takes an unique leader to manage people, process and technology and at the same time prevent any issues to result in loss of revenue and access to federal programs.   Sandy’s approach is to take charge while encouraging others to perform at a higher level of responsibility.   She is not hindered by “poor performers” due to her ability to weed out and/or raise their skills to a new level.  On a personal note – I am proud to consider her a kindred spirit that strives for the success of all.”  

Chyrl R. Ayers, Chief Operating Officer/Senior Vice President, Global Financial Aid Services

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sandy brings a knowledgeable perspective that her clients can count on, and one that helps them improve their operations and output. She is creative yet resourceful in her thinking, addressing the needs and challenges of her clients. Beyond her financial expertise, Sandy is passionate about education, knows how to motivate people, and gets the job done.

COO of Education Solution Provider

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sandy Sarge is as an intelligent, informed, and creative consultant to my school as I have ever encountered. I entrust her with aiding me in many of the key strategic decisions I must make.

Steve Rubin, CEO, Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Sandy has the drive and expertise to not only assess the financial health of an institution but strategically think about future internal and external threats.

Nichole Karpel, P.H.D., Dean of Education, Strayer University

 

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