by Leslie Buttonow

If you were to poll people on their top criteria for an ideal job, there’s a good chance most would say “doing something I love” or “surrounding myself with people who are just as passionate about their job.” Based on those criteria, Diana Cecchini has struck it rich – twice. As CFO of Korg USA, a leading distributor for top brands in the music products industry, she’s able to rely on her extensive background in finance, while working in an industry that’s home to some of the most enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet.

While meeting the demands of her high-level role at Korg USA, Cecchini has also made time to support women in business through networking groups and by mentoring and advising female business students at her alma mater. She shares her story below, as well as some words of wisdom to women looking to work in the music industry.

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The WiMN: You have a background in the finance industry. How did you first come to the musical instrument industry?

DC: 28 years ago, I worked for an outside auditing firm who handled Korg USA’s account. After handling their business for some time, Joe Castronovo offered me a position at the company. I started as Assistant Controller, working my way up through the years to Director of Finance, Vice President of Finance and eventually CFO, the title I currently hold now.

The WiMN: It must have been quite an interesting transition coming to work for a music company. What are some things you enjoy about our industry?

DC: Yes, it absolutely was. Working in the music industry is such a breath of fresh air for me as I can control and maintain the financial aspect of it which I love, but I get to surround myself with a variety of personalities and include myself in such a passionate field. One of the things I appreciate the most about this industry is its spirit and the love everyone has both for what they do and who they work for. I have a great time at NAMM and attending company events like “Korg Jam” where I can see people in their element, performing and doing what drives them in life. In fact, I even participated at the Korg Jam playing the cow bell for one of our employees’ bands.

The WiMN: In your job, you have an opportunity to interface with many music retailers. Overall, how do you think our industry is doing – any recent growth areas?

DC: The industry definitely faced some difficult times years back, but we’ve really turned things around recently. I’m very optimistic for the future of Korg USA, our dealers and the economy as a whole. Our company has seen tremendous growth, not just in sales, but in diversifying our brand portfolio. We’ve taken on the distribution for some really exciting new companies recently and I look forward to the future of these partnerships.

The WiMN: The music and finance industries are similar in that they’re male dominated. Can you recall an incident where you felt some discrimination? If so, how did you handle it?

DC: I’ve been fortunate that working in a male-dominated industry has led me to mostly positive experiences, but there have been moments when I’ve realized there can be a shift in power, so to speak. In one case, early on in my career, I was sent to England on a business trip to purchase Rose Morris, what is now Korg U.K. After one particular lunch with senior officials from overseas, the men stood up and without saying a word, left me in the room to clear the dishes and clean up their mess. Of course, I stood up and left as well, but it was an eye-opening experience that made me feel less than their equal in that moment. I look back now and chuckle to myself, as well as feel a bit relieved that it’s the worst I’ve seen so far, but in my experience at Korg USA, I’ve been treated with the utmost respect.

The WiMN: How have you been able to network with, or support other women in business?

DC: I have made supporting women in business a priority of mine and a focal point of my career. Outside of my role at Korg USA, I am on the board for Women In Leadership at Hofstra University, the school from which I graduated. I meet with the students to discuss gender issues in business and offer them insight on how to be a professional woman in any industry. I’ve also spoken on panels as a female leader and will be moderating a student alumni event in the coming weeks with other high-level women to discuss work place issues, advice on starting your own business and topics in finance.

In addition, I’m also a part of the CFO Woman’s Group on Long Island, a society filled with female financial leaders from different industries.

The WiMN: What are some of the top brands that Korg USA currently distributes? Is there anything new and exciting for Korg USA that you’d like to share?

DC: As of today, we distribute for twelve different music brands: KORG, VOX, Blackstar, Spector, Tanglewood, Crush, Sakae, Waldorf, Right On!, Stay Stands, Sequenz and our newest to join the growing family – Cole Clark.

We’ve had some big changes at our company recently and more to come soon! We’re all very excited to work with such high-quality products and professional brands.

The WiMN: In closing, what advice do you have for young women looking to start a professional career, particularly the music industry?

DC: I have two pieces of advice that I hold very true: if you have a passion in life, whatever it may be, just go for it. You’ll figure it out along the way. My other mantra is: get a mentor. Find someone in your field who can help guide you; someone who has knowledge and experience that you can grow and learn from. It makes all the difference when someone has your best interests at heart.