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of bills, annual deficits, dwindling admission sales and considerable debt, Mackenzie said he discovered a complex and outdated accounting system.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. Allegiant Air strands 200 in Las Vegas, possibly for days

    Airlines

    About 200 passengers on an Allegiant Air flight headed for Oklahoma City on Sunday were stranded in Las Vegas after the airline canceled their flight, according to news reports and passenger tweets. A replacement flight at no extra cost wouldn't come until Thursday, according to tweets and a Fox News report.

    About 200 Allegiant Air passengers are stranded in Las Vegas, perhaps for days. Allegiant's headquarters, shown here, is located in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin, Nevada.
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]


  2. Cott Corp. sells beverage manufacturing business for $1.25 billion

    Business

    TAMPA — Cott Corp., a beverage manufacturer with headquarters in Tampa and Toronto, announced Tuesday it is selling its national beverage manufacturing business to Refresco for $1.25 billion.

    Cott Corp CEO Jerry Fowden
[Handout photo]
  3. Duke Energy Florida again ranks last in J.D. Power satisfaction survey

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Another J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, another last place annual ranking for Duke Energy Florida.

    Duke Energy Florida president. Can he improve the utility's customer satisfaction ratings?
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times file photo]
  4. Trigaux: Florida's jobless rate looks great — but 25 other state rates look even better

    Economic Development

    No debate here: Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop — even as more people move to Florida and enter the workforce. What's not to like?

    Who remembers the remarkable lines of hundreds of people looking for construction work in Tampa back in March of 2010 at a job fair at the Encore construction site near downtown Tampa? Now the construction industry is struggling to find skilled workers to meet building demand. [
JOHN PENDYGRAFT | TIMES]
  5. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]