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

CFO Thought Leader

Release Date: 01/08/2020

638:  The Path to Being Cost Smart | Jim Gray, CFO, Ingredion show art 638: The Path to Being Cost Smart | Jim Gray, CFO, Ingredion

CFO Thought Leader

It's the type of business restructuring capable of striking envy in the hearts of many a company board member—and particularly those known to favor one oft-repeated bit of business wisdom: Never waste a recession. At food ingredient maker Ingredion, where the recession’s bite is directly linked to the eating habits of consumers, a 2-year-old restructuring strategy dubbed “Cost Smart” has begun to deliver on its cost savings promises. In fact, last month, the maker of sweeteners and starches announced plans to increase its Cost Smart run-rate savings target from $150M annually to...

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637: Experiencing the Market Economy Spirit| Tom Fencl, CFO, Pricefx show art 637: Experiencing the Market Economy Spirit| Tom Fencl, CFO, Pricefx

CFO Thought Leader

The son of two doctors, Tom Fencl recalls that while growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, to him a free market economy was more “an intellectual curiosity” than a possible career destination. “When the Berlin Wall came down, I was midway through high school—it was a very formative experience,” remembers Fencl, who says that the historic happening suddenly released “a market economy spirit.” After studying at Prague’s University of Economics, Fencl says, he was “drawn to the big financial centers” and worked in London for 2 years at Stern Stuart & Co. as a consultant...

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636: Being Part of the Team | Marsha Smith, CFO, Siemens, USA show art 636: Being Part of the Team | Marsha Smith, CFO, Siemens, USA

CFO Thought Leader

Members of Siemens USA’s finance team would probably not be surprised to learn that when their CFO, Marsha Smith, is asked to reveal the experiences that prepared her for a finance leadership role, the ones that she relates most often originate from being part of a team. Such was the case in 2004, when she had been assigned to a Siemens joint venture as a commercial project manager. “I’ll never forget: It was my first week on the job, and the project manager came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Marsha, we need to ask for a change order on this one, so write a letter to the customer,’”...

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635: Finding Your  Finance Team's North Star | Markus Harder, CFO, Contentful show art 635: Finding Your Finance Team's North Star | Markus Harder, CFO, Contentful

CFO Thought Leader

The Berlin headquarters of software developer Contentful occupies an old brick warehouse with heavy metal doors and broad functional corridors and spaces native to its industrial past. Standing six stories high, the structure once accommodated its worker population with a miniature kitchen on every floor, a favorite employee perk perhaps first introduced by a coffee-loving tenant.    Still, not everyone at Contentful loves coffee—or at least its CFO, Markus Harder, doesn’t. “My secret is that I hate coffee—I just don’t like it,” says Harder, who shortly after his arrival...

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634: Milestones for M&A Success  | Steve Young, CFO, Duke Energy show art 634: Milestones for M&A Success | Steve Young, CFO, Duke Energy

CFO Thought Leader

It was a little over 40 years ago when Steve Young first joined what would become Duke Energy, the giant electric power holding company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Not only has it been a long tenure, but also it is the only post-college job that I’ve ever had,” says Young, who first roamed the energy giant’s corridors as a finance assistant. In the years that followed, Young says, he became involved in various finance-related projects as different executives sought him out because he had become recognized as a hard worker. One such senior executive, who sat inside...

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633:  Marching to Fintech's New Beat | Matt Briers, CFO, TransferWise show art 633: Marching to Fintech's New Beat | Matt Briers, CFO, TransferWise

CFO Thought Leader

Among the more transformative chapters of Matt Briers’s finance career was his 3-year stint monitoring and forecasting margin performance inside Google’s UK operations. “The core role was really to understand what was happening in the organization from a revenue and margin performance perspective and then help to operate the organization so that it could better drive that revenue,” explains Briers, who says that his responsibilities included an unyielding effort to expose new drivers of Google revenue “even down to keyword searches.” “My role was to provide a hotline back to...

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632: Exposing the Connection Between Financial and Operational Data | Jacqueline Purcell, CFO, Deputy show art 632: Exposing the Connection Between Financial and Operational Data | Jacqueline Purcell, CFO, Deputy

CFO Thought Leader

Jacqueline Purcell’s path to the CFO office began inside an Australian law firm where as a young attorney she was advising corporate clients and their bankers on how to best address some of the legal hurdles that their M&A deal-making might confront. At the time, her routine collaboration with different banking executives gave her a point of comparison to the seemingly less energetic legal world. “They seemed to be having a little more fun and a lot more impact on the outcomes,” she recalls. “This is what sparked my interest in moving into finance,” continues Purcell, who was...

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631:  Explaining the Business Reason Behind the Number | Steven Springsteel, CFO, betterworks show art 631: Explaining the Business Reason Behind the Number | Steven Springsteel, CFO, betterworks

CFO Thought Leader

Back in the early 1990s, Steven Springsteel nabbed an interview for a CFO role with a high-flying tech start-up. At the time, he was controller for Apple’s worldwide manufacturing operations, but the buzz surrounding the brash start-up intrigued him, and the young but accomplished executive shortly found himself waiting to be interviewed by the firm’s CEO. According to Springsteel, his interview aspirations quickly became somewhat tempered as he sat listening to a stream of expletives originating from the CEO’s office.  Within minutes, the CEO’s door swung open and several...

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630: Building the Business Case | Bennett Thiemann, CFO, Applicaster show art 630: Building the Business Case | Bennett Thiemann, CFO, Applicaster

CFO Thought Leader

It was the type of role that any recent business school graduate could envy—not because of the position’s title (Chief of Staff) or how much it paid, but because of its proximity to management decision-making. The job is one that Bennett Theimann remembers well as he looks back on the days when he served as chief of staff for the president of Gruner + Jahr’s German magazine division. “It exposed me to that sort of very-high-level strategic thinking. We launched magazines, we sold magazines, we bought magazines,” says Theimann, who very often found himself finalizing some of the...

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629: Freshly Ripens On The Vine |  Matt Hagel, CFO, Freshly show art 629: Freshly Ripens On The Vine | Matt Hagel, CFO, Freshly

CFO Thought Leader

It’s a story that Matt Hagel likes to share as he networks with fellow finance executives and accounting types. Back in 2017—only days after stepping into a finance leadership role at the online prepared meals company Freshly—Hagel was reviewing the company’s chart of accounts when he asked himself: “Why is Plant, Property, and Equipment (PPE) under Operating Expenses?” As he soon learned, this stalwart accounting acronym has long led a double life and is also used by various industries (notably healthcare and food prep) as a shorthand designation for Personal Protective Equipment....

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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 the coming years would open a new growth chapter by answering the demand for more compelling content in sales enablement.

“From late 2008 to 2009, there were some challenges inside the not-for-profit sector, so I started looking for an opportunity to broaden myself beyond the not-for-profit realm—I was comfortable in taking that risk and making a bet on myself,” explains Evarts, who had originally transitioned into the not-for-profit sector from the world of investment banking and has also taken on the title of COO during his Mediafly tenure. “When I shifted from the not-for-profit area into ‘start-up land,’ I was fortunate to have this amazing opportunity to play a more strategic role and determine how to deploy resources in a more strategic way.” - Jack Sweeney

 

CFOTL: Share with us a finance strategic moment of insight?

Evarts: Our first opportunity for mergers and acquisitions was really what I would say was a watershed moment for me. I had never had the opportunity to pursue an acquisition before, and I needed to figure out for myself what a framework would be in order to determine whether this was a good one or not a good one. It's very different from what's in the textbooks. When you get into the actual practical matter of pursuing an acquisition, you need to be very disciplined in how you look at it, how you think it through. We had to come up with this construct that we call our 100-day plan. When I started thinking about how to make that construct and 100-day plan--what we call "one Mediafly"--it really started driving home the point that culture is critical.

The reason why we're acquiring this company is so that not only do we get the benefit of the products, but also we get the benefit of the really great people who are on the team. We were able to get this 100-day plan around M&A as a way for us to think about and philosophize about this "one media fly" concept, which is, for example, the way that we look at how to source the capital that is necessary and how to figure out how the people need to work within the organization. So, it's not only how many resources we need in order to acquire this company, but also what does the construct in the comp model look like afterward? What is the expectation of revenue production that's going to come out afterward?

Then, over time, you get to the point where you're also talking about culture and its impact. What do you think about when more than 50% of the company is outside of the Chicago headquarters? What do you do? How do you think about remote work? So, all of this goes beyond the typical finance conversation. It's really about culture, by the time you get it all the way out. This, for me, was kind of an "A-ha!" moment, once we got to this concept of "one Mediafly."