Born in Latin America to father Armando and mother Maria, Maria J. Finlinson was inspired to a career in finance by her longstanding love for numbers. She has excelled in mathematics since she was young and notably won three math awards in high school. Concluding her studies in Latin America, she attended school for systems engineering, economic sciences and law, and found herself pulled into the finance industry right as she was beginning her career, where she has spent the last 15 years growing and expanding her expertise in all aspects of finance, accounting and taxes.
Drawn to the nonprofit sector, Ms. Finlinson joined The Leonardo in 2020, a museum in Salt Lake City that combines science, technology and art to inspire creativity and innovation, as the director of finance and business operations. In addition to managing all of the museum’s finances, her duties also include meeting with the board, overseeing their event spaces and in-house restaurant, managing their business operations for revenue, aiding in the grant application process, and various other day to day tasks. Throughout her work with The Leonardo, Ms. Finlinson has achieved much success due to the speed with which she is able to complete her tasks, something that leads to an increase of opportunities for her to display her skills and grow as a professional.
Furthermore, Ms. Finlinson is proud to have made a name for herself in the finance field for various industries as a woman and as an immigrant. She notes that when it comes to meetings with other financial directors, board members, and executive teams, she is usually one of, if not the only woman in the room and is usually the youngest as well. In that vein, she would advise any woman looking to pursue a career in finance or to advance in their careers towards executive level roles, to not be afraid to stay and find a place for yourself, and additionally emphasizes the importance of learning the industry jargon as an important part of professional growth. Perpetually inspired by her desire to give back to her family and make a difference, Ms. Finlinson strives to create a legacy that shows that it is possible to achieve considerable success as an immigrant and a woman.
As she looks toward the future, Ms. Finlinson plans to continue her work in the nonprofit world, teaching nonprofit organizations how to navigate various applications, as well as continuing to consult and work with for profit companies, as she feels very strongly about passing her knowledge on to others. Having accomplished much over the course of her career, she considers her most notable achievement to simply be having attained executive roles at such a young age. She is also very proud of the fact that she became very well versed in the Small Business Administration COVID-19 relief packages, of which she was able to obtain the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant for The Leonardo as well as other loans and reliefs. This was significant because it can be a struggle for many in the industry to have their applications move forward quickly, and having this process go smoothly was a great achievement for Ms. Finlinson.
Ms. Finlinson loves what she does because every day is different and there is always something she can learn. A particularly memorable moment for her was the first time she completed the due diligence process on her own. She had no guidance except for her own, which made that first time all the sweeter in its success. For her excellence in her career, she was presented with the Global Finance Leader Award by the Global Conference on Insurance & Finance in 2020. Married to her husband, David, for many happy years, Ms. Finlinson is the proud mother of two daughters, Isabella and Gabriela, and spends her free time cooking for her family, watching TV and relaxing with her husband, daughters and two dogs.