loader from loading.io

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

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Release Date: 01/12/2020

665: A Data-Driven CFO Grabs the Wheel | Rob Barnhart, CFO, SimpleTire show art 665: A Data-Driven CFO Grabs the Wheel | Rob Barnhart, CFO, SimpleTire

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Among the experiences that Rob Barnhart credits with having prepared him for a CFO role was an executive training program in which he participated when he served as director of FP&A for defense contractor BAE Systems. Known as LEAD, or Leadership Enhancement Accelerated Development, the program put a spotlight not on technical knowledge or management best practices but on each participant’s soft skills, Barnhart recalls. “There were literally clinical psychologists sitting in on meetings who would later reflect on your behavior and give you advice on how you could have been a more...

info_outline
664: Good Judgment: Every CFO's Star Attribute | Gary Swidler, CFO, Match Group show art 664: Good Judgment: Every CFO's Star Attribute | Gary Swidler, CFO, Match Group

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Back in 2015, when Gary Swidler was a candidate for a CFO position at Match Group, the seasoned banking executive recalls being told by company management: “On paper, you are definitely not the most qualified person for the job.” The gap on Swidler’s resume was due to the fact that he had never held a CFO position—a void that frustrates many first-time CFO candidates who routinely find themselves second in line to candidates whose resumes list previous CFO appointments. Perhaps frustrated CFO candidates might find some comfort in the notion that Match, a company whose online offerings...

info_outline
663:  Building a Better Product  | Hoang Vuong, CFO, Amplitude show art 663: Building a Better Product | Hoang Vuong, CFO, Amplitude

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

We have been speaking with Hoang Vuong for little more than a minute when he mentions the CFO mentor whom he credits with having influenced his early career decisions. “Hey, what do you really want to do when you grow up?” was the question that Vuong remembers being asked by the CFO, who had gotten to know Vuong personally while the young techie had served as an IT troubleshooter for his company’s ambitious SAP implementation. Fast-forward a few years, and the same CFO introduces Vuong to the management of an early-stage Internet search firm in the travel space, known as SideStep. Vuong...

info_outline
662: A Thirst for Innovation | Dynshaw Italia, CFO, Soldo show art 662: A Thirst for Innovation | Dynshaw Italia, CFO, Soldo

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

When innovation is a topic for discussion, Dynshaw Italia can’t resist mentioning Cobra Beer—or, to be more specific, “the big bottle.” It was Cobra, of course, that first opted to forgo the UK’s standard 500–550 ml beer bottles and introduce an ever more generously proportioned 650 ml vessel. “Cobra was all about doing things differently and better and, as a result, changing the marketplace,” explains Italia, who recalls that Cobra’s big bottle strategic insight had to do with the willingness of UK diners to share their oversize beverage with others at their table.   ...

info_outline
A CFO's Lightning in a Bottle | Holiday Bonus Replay #2 show art A CFO's Lightning in a Bottle | Holiday Bonus Replay #2

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

It was late for a workday (perhaps after 9:00 p.m.) when Seb Martel shared his team’s candid findings with a collection of top managers tasked with assessing the economic downturn’s likely impact on BRP’s business. As a manufacturer of popular vehicles for snow and water, BRP management was naturally concerned that the downturn could wallop BRP’s recreation-minded customers, depressing sales and raising doubts about whether BRP would meet its debt covenants. Still, the question that remained top-of-mind for Martel was a question that the downturn posed to industry at large: “Is...

info_outline
When Purpose Eases Workforce Stress  | Workplace Champions show art When Purpose Eases Workforce Stress | Workplace Champions

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Inside the realm of corporate finance, it’s safe to say that the year 2020 has been unlike any that have preceded it. As more employees have occupied remote workspaces, growing numbers of finance chiefs have told us that they are more carefully monitoring the financial and cultural levers that influence workforce behaviors.  

info_outline
A Great Finance Career Adventure | Holiday Bonus Replay #1 show art A Great Finance Career Adventure | Holiday Bonus Replay #1

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Looking back at his years with Arthur Andersen—the launching pad for a finance and accounting career that would span three decades and three continents—Juan Figuereo suspects that his eight-year stretch at AA may have been two or three years longer than what may have been required. Still, there was no second-guessing when he departed AA for Pepsi in the late 1980s. Figuereo would spend more than a decade with Pepsi, serving in multiple finance leadership roles around the world before opting to return to the United States to satisfy a parental preference (that he and his wife shared)...

info_outline
661: Finding Your Finance Port of Entry | Dan Stokely, CFO, Ampio Pharmaceuticals show art 661: Finding Your Finance Port of Entry | Dan Stokely, CFO, Ampio Pharmaceuticals

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Thinking back to his days as a charter boat captain off the coast of Point Loma, San Diego, Dan Stokely marvels at the responsibilities that he shouldered as a young adult. Serving a mix of customers, Stokely would routinely welcome on board groups of small business owners, executives, and doctors before setting off to sea on 3- to 15-day jaunts. “Whether it was dealing with people experiencing some kind of medical emergency at sea, or really rough weather, or mechanical failures—you just had to be on top of your game all the time,” recalls Stokely, who says that the experience...

info_outline
660: A CFO Finds Her Career Cadence Inside PE-Backed Firms | Debra Ricci, CFO, Guidehouse show art 660: A CFO Finds Her Career Cadence Inside PE-Backed Firms | Debra Ricci, CFO, Guidehouse

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Back in 2018—when Deb Ricci’s name topped the list of leading candidates to fill the CFO role at Guidehouse, a management consulting firm carve-out—three career distinctions likely set her apart from other candidates. First, Ricci was a veteran public sector executive whose finance resume included multiple chapters inside the government services sector, Guidehouse’s home turf. Second, she had worked inside private equity–backed companies—experience that few recruiters could ignore in light of Guidehouse being the offspring of private equity firm Veritas Capital. Third, she had an...

info_outline
659: The Rewards of Taking Inspired Action | Brice Hill, CFO, Xilinx show art 659: The Rewards of Taking Inspired Action | Brice Hill, CFO, Xilinx

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

  In front of the restaurant’s dozen or more cash registers, customers were standing six or seven deep when Brice Hill raised his voice and began instructing the hungry mall shoppers to immediately exit the store. “No one listened to a single word I said,” says Hill, who opens our discussion by transporting us back to the mid-1980s, when as a teenage recent graduate of McDonald’s management training program he was given a surprise leadership test. Having made a trip to the mall for some holiday shopping, Hill had poked his head into the mall’s marquee McDonald’s only to find a...

info_outline
 
More Episodes

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 little deeper and more closely studying the businesses realized that the areas negatively impacting profits frequently involved certain offerings of recently acquired European businesses that offered limited cross-selling potential.

“Not knowing any better, I went to the CFO and CEO and said, ‘Hey, have we ever thought about transferring some of the elements out of these businesses?,’” recalls Brunelle, who even today as a CFO appears somewhat surprised by her early-career assertiveness.

She continues: “I say ‘I didn’t know any better’ because I was only two months on the job, and I didn’t know that there was probably more of a process of going through your manager to do this. Instead, I just said, ‘Hey, has anybody thought about this?’”

According to Brunelle, only days later she was boarding a plane to Europe to help execute on her suggestion and sell off underperforming assets and parts of the business that were perhaps not as profitable as was desired or in line with the company’s future direction.

“I got on a plane having never traveled to Rome before, not knowing any lawyers or accountants or bankers there. I worked through getting an introduction to a banker to help us package these businesses and find buyers and then getting an introduction to an attorney who could help us with the local Italian law and how to structure the contracts for these transactions,” says Brunelle, who credits the resulting deal-making with helping to distinguish her as an executive “who gets things done.”

“They were relatively small transactions,” she adds. “I think that one was about a $10 million sale and one was about a $30 million sale. But for me, so early in my career, this was the moment when I realized that finance was the way to open the door to being part of the more exciting strategic business conversations.” –Jack Sweeney

 

CFOTL: What metrics are top of mind for you these days?

Brunelle:  We've been selling commercially for about two quarters now out of our factory in Taiwan, so we think carefully about quite a few metrics. Obviously, cash is very important. We have to finance the company through our early-stage growth until we reach a point of profitability, just like every other growth company. This is very important. Because we have a fairly complex business, we have to have a pretty well thought out strategic plan and metrics. By "complex business," I mean that we have the Taiwan factory and we also have research and development teams here who are creating new products as well as innovating on existing products to make them less expensive. We also have a chemistry division that applies what you would think of as the ink that causes our windows to darken; the do the chemical formulations and composition here. We have the software division in Salt Lake City.

So, we're really running a fairly complex business in which multiple elements have to come together in order for us to be successful. When you think of customer experience metrics, you think of how it's really important for us to be on time. The factory has to be very responsive to customer needs. We have to monitor on-time delivery and make sure that our customers are getting the products that they need to button up their building projects in a timely manner. In terms of quality, we look a lot at yield in the factory in terms of efficiency. We're thinking about throughput and how much product is being produced on the line per day, per week, per month.

Obviously, because we have a factory and these other elements of our business such as the chemistry and R&D and pilot plant elements, compliance with health and safety is very important, so tracking this and making sure that it's at the forefront of everything we do is key. And then there's reducing costs, such as the manufacturing costs per unit or per project and watching that. Finally, the number one metric that can really poorly influence all of your other metrics is sales growth. If you don't have sales growth, the rest of your metrics will suffer.