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536: Finance & the Big Shift | Brian Swartz, CFO, Cornerstone OnDemand

CFO Thought Leader

Release Date: 10/02/2019

565:  A Fintech Unicorn Burnishes its Risk Management Brand  | Michael Tannenbaum, CFO, Brex Inc.  show art 565: A Fintech Unicorn Burnishes its Risk Management Brand | Michael Tannenbaum, CFO, Brex Inc.

CFO Thought Leader

Tannenbaum: At Brex, pretty early on, I was kind of familiar with the banking landscape from when I had been in investment banking. The group that I had been in actually served regional banks, so I did a lot of regional bank mergers and acquisitions. Then, at SoFi, I had built a lot of relationships with regional banks. I think that when you start in fintech, there's always this belief that you're competing with big banks. That was a lot of the marketing positioning of my former employer, SoFi, but at Brex I saw this opportunity to partner with banks because I was familiar with the card...

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564: Synchrony Steps Beyond the Shadow of its Historic Roots  | Brian Wenzel, CFO, Synchrony show art 564: Synchrony Steps Beyond the Shadow of its Historic Roots | Brian Wenzel, CFO, Synchrony

CFO Thought Leader

CFOTL: Having splitout from GE- we would imagine there were certain business processes already in place at Synchrony, while others processes had to be reestablished or developed. Wenzel: The processes that have been developed are probably the core part of our business. We had to build everything from scratch. Even the processes for things like very mundane benefits in HR, and paying people, and for some of the regulatory reporting–we had to build all that up. But we did take a process from GE that was a very good process in the credit risk world, a very traditional process. You go out...

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563:  Energizing Your Entrepreneurial Mind-set | Stephen Grist, CFO, Bohemia Interactive Simulations show art 563: Energizing Your Entrepreneurial Mind-set | Stephen Grist, CFO, Bohemia Interactive Simulations

CFO Thought Leader

It was back in 2002, Stephen Grist says, when he first punched through a surface of rigid assumptions to grasp the innovative levers that would propel him into the ranks of strategic CFOs. At the time, Grist was the CFO of Viatel, a technology company whose management and sales teams were eagerly seeking to reestablish the company’s footing along a growth path after having recently emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. With its bankruptcy in the rearview mirror, the company emerged with an unbridled appetite for growth—but one that was perhaps lacking in long-term vision. Says Grist:...

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562:  A Window Into the Future | Anna Brunelle, CFO, Kinestral Technologies show art 562: A Window Into the Future | Anna Brunelle, CFO, Kinestral Technologies

CFO Thought Leader

Asked to reflect on those experiences that she feels prepared her for a finance leadership role, a cash flow statement quickly comes to mind for Anna Brunelle, CFO of Kinestral Technologies. Only months into her first industry finance job, Brunelle was tasked with preparing her company’s cash flow statement, and she didn’t like some of what she discovered about the business. “I realized that there were a couple of businesses that the company had acquired a few years earlier that had some elements that were kind of dragging down our profitability,” explains Brunelle, who after digging a...

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561: Identifying the Levers for  Efficient Growth |  John Evarts, CFO, Mediafly show art 561: Identifying the Levers for Efficient Growth | John Evarts, CFO, Mediafly

CFO Thought Leader

Ten years or so ago, the expression “never waste a downturn” became a popular maxim among business leaders who viewed the economy’s downward spiral as an opportunity to trim waste and restructure portions of their businesses. The expression also summed up the mind-set of a unique class of executives who, despite a bleak hiring environment, viewed the period as being potentially transformational for their careers. Such was the case with CFO John Evarts, who entered the downturn as a CFO for a not-for-profit and exited as CFO of Mediafly—a small content asset management company that in...

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560: When Your Tactic Becomes Your Strategy | Raman Kapur, CFO, Moogsoft show art 560: When Your Tactic Becomes Your Strategy | Raman Kapur, CFO, Moogsoft

CFO Thought Leader

Years from now, if Silicon Valley’s glitterati were ever to gather to celebrate the opening of a National Cloud Computing Museum, CFO Raman Kapur would make an excellent tour guide for the facility’s finance wing. In fact, he could just chart the trajectory of his career from the dot-com bubble forward to help the world at large to better grasp how the cloud opportunity has grown and reshaped the finance business function. Our tour could begin at Intuit, the accounting software developer that Kapur joined in 2001 while seeking shelter from the dot-com bubble burst, where he quickly found...

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559: Establishing  Your Work Ethos | Bea Ordonez, CFO, OTC Markets Group, Inc. show art 559: Establishing Your Work Ethos | Bea Ordonez, CFO, OTC Markets Group, Inc.

CFO Thought Leader

Perhaps, unlike most of her professional peers, when Bea Ordonez first interviewed for a CFO role, she got the job. At the time, perhaps no one was more surprised than Ordonez, whose finance resume—while impressive for a 26-year-old—still lacked a number of C-suite prerequisites. Twenty years later, she still resides in the C-Suite, having filled a number of consecutive CFO and COO roles over the years. Nonetheless, she credits her first CFO tour of duty with having opened the door for everything that has followed. “On paper, at least, I was woefully underqualified for the job. I...

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Holiday Bonus | Family, Discipline & the Roots of Leadership | Charmaine Spence Rochester, CFO, Chester County Hospital show art Holiday Bonus | Family, Discipline & the Roots of Leadership | Charmaine Spence Rochester, CFO, Chester County Hospital

CFO Thought Leader

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Holiday Bonus | A Career In Step with the World |Andreas Schulmeyer, CFO, Better Choice Company show art Holiday Bonus | A Career In Step with the World |Andreas Schulmeyer, CFO, Better Choice Company

CFO Thought Leader

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558:  Achieving Ongoing Customer  Value | David Ertel, CFO, Vizient show art 558: Achieving Ongoing Customer Value | David Ertel, CFO, Vizient

CFO Thought Leader

CFOTL: What metrics are top of mind for you? ERTEL: Largely defined, most of Vizient's revenue is—I'm going to put it in air quotes—"subscription-oriented." Some of it is literal subscriptions, whether SaaS or other offerings, but much of it is driven by multiyear contracts that operate as subscription services, such as for clinical data or for a group purchasing organization. While on the one hand this provides great visibility on future revenue, the challenge with these types of organizations is to not just sit back and rest on your laurels. What offerings enhancements do you put forward...

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When asked about the experiences that prepared him for a finance leadership role, Brian Swartz, CFO of Cornerstone OnDemand, doesn’t hesitate to mention his tour of duty as controller for EaglePicher, a collection of businesses founded in 1842 that stubbornly has reinvented itself from one century to the next. However, as the small conglomerate was entering the 21st century, it found itself burdened with enormous debt, which led to a bankruptcy filing and a transformative restructuring—all of which controller Swartz got to observe firsthand after the company’s CFO and treasurer made a hasty exit.

“I kind of stuck around. While I would never want to work in that environment again, in that type of situation you do learn to understand all of the reasons why we have contracts and what all of the provisions in the contracts mean. The reality is that the provisions are not relevant until things do not go as planned, and that is basically what a Chapter 11 is,” explains Swartz, who ultimately helped to lead EaglePicher’s finance function through the Chapter 11 process and out of bankruptcy.

Reflects Swartz: “The experience made me think about things differently as I moved on to become CFO of Apollo Education Group.” He would serve as AEG’s CFO for eight and half years before leaving the multibillion-dollar provider of education services to enter the software technology realm. Today, Swartz characterizes his departure from mission-driven AEG as a distinct milestone in his career—one that required him to leave behind a role that he had found enormously satisfying in order to be challenged in new and different ways inside the data-addicted but always inspiring technology sector.