Some people don’t like change, but Ed Imbrogno is never afraid to try something different.
His is not the typical accounting career, as he has built his expertise at firms across five different industries in four states. “The basic principles you can take from one industry to the next, but there are always opportunities to expand your knowledge,” Imbrogno explains. “I enjoy learning new things. I find it personally and professionally rewarding.”
His career has led him to the position of vice president, chief financial officer, and chief accounting officer for PDL BioPharma, which has managed patents and other investments since 2008. And he expects to start a new chapter sometime fairly soon, as PDL is in the process of monetizing its assets and winding down its operations.
“This process has introduced a number of projects that have allowed me to engage in so many different levels,” Imbrogno remarks. “It’s been a lot of work, but it’s fascinating. Dissolving a company is, by design, very structured. We’re looking to be as efficient as possible and provide the best return to our stockholders.”
Imbrogno didn’t always plan on becoming an accountant. He studied computer science when he enrolled at Penn State University but soon realized that path was not for him. As he was pondering what his next step would be, a friend suggested he should consider accounting. “I did well with it, and I continued on that path,” Imbrogno explains. “The opportunities available with an accounting degree were pretty broad, so I just went with it.”
He embarked on his career, starting out as an auditor at a large accounting firm in Pittsburgh before transferring to Greensboro, North Carolina, where he later became an audit manager, which he credits for providing invaluable, well-rounded training and exposure to different industries. That led to him a series of opportunities with different companies large and small.
“The basic principles you can take from one industry to the next, but there are always opportunities to expand your knowledge.”
An interesting element of his career is the fact that he has worked in four different industries after his public accounting career, beginning with a textiles firm in Greensboro. It was during this time he continued his studies at Wake Forest, where he earned an MBA. After a long run in textiles heading up the accounting department, he moved into a financial reporting position for a company then located in Valencia, California, that designed and manufactured 3-D printers.
Approximately one year thereafter, he received his first opportunity in biotech pharma, staying in California with Amgen instead of moving cross-country with the 3-D printing company as it was relocating its headquarters. “There is a variety of technical accounting and financial reporting issues at a large biotech company, which I enjoyed,” he says, “and there is also a sense of pride working in an industry developing novel therapies for patients with serious unmet medical conditions. I am grateful for my Amgen experience.”
Imbrogno then took an opportunity with a Los Angeles-based aircraft leasing company to further his career, but it was acquired by a European-based competitor within a year of him joining. “Sometimes, your plans don’t unfold the way you envision, but you need to adapt and move on,” he says. After a lengthy transition period, he worked in consulting for a bit. This provided an opportunity to return to North Carolina where he worked as the controller for a specialty pharmaceutical company headquartered in Raleigh. Out of the blue, he was contacted about a chief accounting officer role at PDL in Incline Village, Nevada, near Lake Tahoe’s north shore.
“I was very attracted by the opportunity; it was a senior role where I felt I would have the chance to be meaningfully engaged and I pursued it,” Imbrogno recalls. “After approximately one year at PDL, the CFO left unexpectedly and that created the opportunity for me to step up with expanded responsibilities.”
That unanticipated promotion required that he engage in certain areas more directly than before, such as investor relations, treasury, and board communications. His ability to adapt has been key to his success.
“It’s about being open to explore new opportunities knowing I’ll be challenged, but embracing new responsibilities keeps my career fresh and allows me to grow,” he says. “That’s very motivating for me.”
“For me, it’s about being open to explore new opportunities knowing I’ll be challenged, but embracing new responsibilities keeps my career fresh and allows me to grow.”
He is especially proud of his team’s ability to maintain its core responsibilities while also running many processes that are part of PDL BioPharma’s road to ending its operations.
“Every day presents a different project or a different deliverable,” he notes. “In addition to our regular accounting and financial reporting responsibilities working for a public company, we have a number of wind-down processes operating concurrently and the fact that we’re able to produce on all fronts is something I’m very proud of. I am fortunate to have such a strong team and to work with a collaborative group at PDL.”
Imbrogno’s career has seen him work not only in different industries but also in different parts of the country, and he’s grateful to have people in his life who support him.
“I’ve had the flexibility to go where my work takes me,” he says. “I’m fortunate to have a very understanding family. We moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina to California, then back to North Carolina before venturing out to Nevada. When confronted with a career change, I am open to go where the most compelling opportunity takes me, and I’ll be doing that again when my responsibilities wrap up at PDL.”