Accountant Turned CFO: How Judy Lubben Leads by Mount Mercy’s Example

Mount Mercy Alumna Judy Lubben ’03 and ’15, has encountered the ups and downs as a leader of one of Cedar Rapids’ largest companies—Raining Rose.

Lubben, who obtained both her undergraduate accounting degree and an MBA from Mount Mercy University, has been with Raining Rose—an internationally recognized cosmetics manufacturer—for 12 years. She now serves as CFO and vice president of administration for the company, but when she got her start in the business office in 2003, the company consisted of only 13 people.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Lubben said. “I’ve worked with a lot of people who care deeply about the business—a lot are Mount Mercy grads themselves. We have been through some tough times at Raining Rose. Our first struggle was after one of the original founders, Art Christoffersen, passed away in December 2005. I came to Raining Rose because of Art and had hoped to learn a lot from him, given that his background was in accounting. Losing him so early was a shock to us all. However, we have a strong core group. The other founder, Chuck Hammond, has been a great mentor as well.”

As an accountant, Lubben said she understood the importance of monitoring the growth of the company.

“We grew at a fast rate, but we managed our cash flow carefully,” Lubben explained. “We have always had a strong balance sheet, even after the flood.”

In 2008 eastern Iowa was inundated with a flood that wiped out hundreds of homes and many businesses. Raining Rose was then located in the New Bohemia area of southeast Cedar Rapids.

“The flood hurt, but probably helped us slow down,” Lubben said. “It made us evaluate who we wanted to be and where we wanted to go. Shortly after the flood we decided the building we occupied wasn’t going to be enough. We built the building on First Avenue, which we are currently occupying.”

Before working at Raining Rose, Lubben worked at Frank Magid Associates in Cedar Rapids, which is where she found the inspiration to earn her first degree in accounting.

“My mentor and boss at the time was Ruth Munger, who is also a Mount Mercy grad,” Lubben said. “She was the one who told me I should get my degree. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t gone to work for Ruth.”

Lubben, who had two sons at home while attending undergraduate classes, chose Mount Mercy because of its convenient location, small class size and professors’ passion. Barb Pooley, who was an influential mentor during Lubben’s time at MMU, was the one who recommended her for the job at Raining Rose.

“The instructors I had at Mount Mercy made me feel as though they cared about my success,” Lubben said. “To this day, if I run into Barb Pooley, Rob Rittenhouse, Steve Gilmore, Tom Castle—to name just a few—we always take a few minutes to talk and catch up.”

She said she also learned important lessons in leadership from her mentors at Mount Mercy.

“They made me more aware of how I treat people,” Lubben said. “Everyone matters and if somebody is willing to put in the effort, I should at least try to put the effort back into them. This is probably why I love it so much at Raining Rose and why I love Mount Mercy. Both try to make people feel like they matter.”

Written by Corey Munson ’08