Make us your home page
Instagram

MOSI taps CFO Julian Mackenzie to prepare museum for downtown move

TAMPA — Nine months ago, the Museum of Science and Industry hired Julian Mackenzie to turn around that institution's finances. Now it wants him to turn around the entire museum.

The museum, known as MOSI, named Mackenzie its new chief executive on Monday. The decision comes a month before MOSI shutters most of its 300,000-square foot building in north Tampa near the University of South Florida and prepares to reopen as a smaller museum in one wing of its campus.

"Very candidly, there is a lot of work to be done," Mackenzie said. "This isn't going to happen on its own; we've got to make it happen. But we're approaching it with a well thought out, well planned course of action. As I've said: I like to crawl, then walk, then run."

TAMPA BAY TIMES COVERAGE: THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY

Critics link new leader of MOSI to failure of Sarasota museum (July 11, 2015)

Unapproved loan, unpaid vendors among MOSI's troubling financial issues, report finds (Oct. 30, 2015)

Financial struggles continue for MOSI but optimism remains for downtown move (Dec. 5, 2016)

President of Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry resigns amid financial woes (March 7, 2017)

MOSI to close most of its building, IMAX to save money before move to downtown Tampa (May 18, 2017)

Mackenzie, 56, was hired as MOSI's chief financial officer last October and has led the museum on an interim basis since the resignation of former CEO Molly Demeulenaere in March. His salary is $150,000.

Mackenzie was first approached about the CFO position by a search firm, he said. He took over a finance department that was in disarray.

In addition to a backlog of bills, annual deficits, dwindling admission sales and considerable debt, Mackenzie said he discovered a complex and outdated accounting system.

"Some of the accounting was so complicated you couldn't see the wood for the trees," he said.

Mackenzie has a background in finance — he has an economics degree from the University of Wales — and has often served in turn-around roles for businesses. He has experience working in leadership roles at companies in medical technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, insurance and finance in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy. A British transplant, he's fluent in four languages.

"I don't want to appear as someone who enjoys going around firing people," Mackenzie said. "But what is exciting about this is from an institution that was kind of rudderless, we now have a rudder and our course is chartered.''

Under Mackenzie's stewardship, the museum has formulated a plan to remain financially viable while it awaits a move to Water Street Tampa, the downtown development of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investments.

MOSI will close Aug. 14 and reopen in just the Kids in Charge wing of the building on Nov. 18 with lower ticket prices and less overhead and staff.

MOSI's board chairman says Mackenzie has quickly earned the trust of board members and its largest benefactor, Hillsborough County.

"It's Julian's leadership that has made this future possible, and he is exactly the type of sharp, experienced individual MOSI needs right now," said Robert Thomas, board chair and CEO of Two Rivers Ranch.

On Wednesday, county commissioners voted to give MOSI $2.4 million to help retire more than $2 million in debt and transition to a smaller footprint. Vinik has agreed to split the cost of the debt.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill has said he feels comfortable making that investment in part because of Mackenzie.

Unlike his predecessor, who was promoted internally after a national search conducted by a consulting firm, Mackenzie was quickly and quietly chosen to fill the role.

Though his resume has many stops and he has a reputation for turnarounds, he said he plans to stick around.

"I serve at the board's pleasure but my objective is to make sure MOSI is a financially sustainable institution and a successful and important part of our community," he said. "I'm not looking at this as a short-term gig."

Contact Steve Contorno at scontorno@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433. Follow @scontorno.

MOSI taps CFO Julian Mackenzie to prepare museum for downtown move 07/18/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]