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541: Energizing Your Stakeholder Network | Smital Shah, CFO, ProQR

CFO Thought Leader

Release Date: 10/20/2019

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CFO Thought Leader

As the newly appointed CFO of agtech start-up Cooks Venture, Ankur Agrawal lists one of his favorite duties as designing menus. Of course, we are referring to the menu of performance measurements featured on the poultry company’s maturing business dashboard. “One of the beauties that comes with joining a new company is that you get to build from scratch,” explains Agrawal, who says that he’s relied on some of his earlier experiences using dashboards at Pepsico and Blue Apron to help Cooks Venture to build a better one. According to Agrawal, a successful dashboard begins with...

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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CFO Thought Leader

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As an Indian citizen living in the United States and working for a Dutch company, CFO Smital Shah frequently spends her days on conference calls with investors from Asia, Israel, or Europe.

On every investor call, at every board meeting, and at every employee gathering, the same question gets asked: “How far is ProQR from serving patients?” Each time she hears this, the firm’s worldly finance leader provides a thoughtful and measured response.

This is a question that punctuates the tenure of finance chiefs inside every clinical stage start-up, and one that Shah says has led her to seek out any synergies that she can between the finance function’s accounting and compliance processes and ProQR’s greater goal of creating medicines for patients who suffer from rare diseases.

Shah asks: “How do we facilitate—within the confines of finance—what we need to do in order to achieve this?”

ProQR expects to have collected the necessary data from its ongoing clinical trials to seek out approval for its new medicine from the Food and Drug Administration by early 2021 or perhaps sooner.

As for the “confines of finance,” any functional borders within ProQR have clearly already been breached by Shah, who implores her finance team to regularly listen to those beyond the functional boundaries. “This is about understanding that you as an individual contributor cannot always affect the magnitude of change that you want. Change will depend on your team and all of the stakeholders around it. So I think that this is about stakeholder management and truly listening to all and realizing that you achieve impact as a group,” explains Shah, whose finance leadership mind-set is perhaps the offspring of a borderless career. –Jack Sweeney

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