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613: Helping Others Get the Big Picture | Anders Fohlin, CFO, Medius

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Release Date: 07/05/2020

698: Decomposing Business Metrics | Ross Tennenbaum, CFO, Avalara show art 698: Decomposing Business Metrics | Ross Tennenbaum, CFO, Avalara

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

It’s no secret that the herculean effort required to keep corporate board meetings on time frequently involves tracking the arrivals of certain board member attendees. Of course, the most anticipated arrival inside the boardroom is often not a board member at all, but a new business measure or yardstick commonly referred to as a metric. And just as board members often hail from faraway places, so too do metrics. Or so explains Ross Tennenbaum, a former investment banker, who in 2020 stepped into the CFO office at Avalara, a developer of tax compliance software. “I’m obsessed about...

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697: A SPAC Puts Leafy Greens on the Menu  | Guy Blanchard, CFO, AeroFarms show art 697: A SPAC Puts Leafy Greens on the Menu | Guy Blanchard, CFO, AeroFarms

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Back in 2014—when Guy Blanchard first entered the CFO office at AeroFarms—the indoor vertical farming company had roughly 20 employees and a commercial farm prototype under construction. Seven years and four rounds of private funding later, AeroFarms has recently broken ground on its third commercial farm in Danville, Virginia, and a research farm in Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, this past March, Aerofarms demonstrated that its appetite for innovation extends beyond farming techniques when it announced a merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp., a SPAC that the company now expects to use as a...

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696: Ascending the Funnel | Darrell Cox, CFO, Vena Solutions show art 696: Ascending the Funnel | Darrell Cox, CFO, Vena Solutions

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

When marketing campaigns get old, they’re like polyester leisure suits that seem to fit okay but look awful, explains finance chief Darrell Cox of Vena Solutions, who credits finance with helping Vena to empty its closet. Or, to put it another way, Cox credits finance with helping Vena to fail faster. “The earlier you know that you should stop investing, the more successful you will be at failing efficiently and having your experiments be effective,” comments Cox, who says that such experiments are frequently conducted in collaboration with the sales team, as finance seeks to lengthen...

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Trust & the Individual show art Trust & the Individual

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Featuring the Workplace Champions CFO Arleen Paladino of Crum & Forster CFO Guy Blanchard of Aerofarms CFO Mike Rasic of Synapse CFO Ross Tennenbaum of Avalara

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695: As Public Perception Changes, Opportunity Advances | Louie Reformina, CFO, Turning Point Brands show art 695: As Public Perception Changes, Opportunity Advances | Louie Reformina, CFO, Turning Point Brands

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Chances are that CFO Louie Reformina never expected to be in the rolling papers business. Having advanced down a career track populated with different private equity firms, a stint at Goldman Sachs, and a Stanford Business School degree, Reformina could have landed inside any number of industries offering him multiple C-suite doors of entry. However, not unlike the pick-and-shovel entrepreneurs who once outfitted troves of Gold Rush  prospectors, Reformina is confident that his arrival inside the CFO office at Turning Point Brands (NYSE:TPB) is well timed for an uptick in cannabis...

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694: Specific and Time-bound, Aggressive yet Realistic  |  Ana Sirbu, CFO, Nitro show art 694: Specific and Time-bound, Aggressive yet Realistic | Ana Sirbu, CFO, Nitro

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Not unlike other finance leaders, Nitro CFO Ana Sirbu wants you to know that she’s a “prioritizer.” Both personally and professionally, Sirbu has created a list of objectives that never strays far from her mind’s eye. Meanwhile, she undoubtedly keeps a second list—a listing of key results.   “Effective key results are specific and time-bound, aggressive yet realistic,” wrote John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, in his ode to OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) Measure What Matters (Penguin Random House, 2018).   Learning how items move from the...

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693: Building Individual Trust | Mike Rasic, CFO, Synapse show art 693: Building Individual Trust | Mike Rasic, CFO, Synapse

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Looking back, Mike Rasic says that his entry into the world of tech start-ups got kicked off with a phone call that he almost didn’t answer. “I have a strict policy that if I see a phone number popping up on my mobile that I don’t recognize, I just don’t pick up,” explains Rasic, who goes on to say that the voice on the other end belonged to a head hunter who subsequently gave him the scoop on a CFO position. “It worked out,” reports Rasic, a former PwC partner who is currently the CFO of Synapse, a fintech start-up that can now be counted as Rasic’s fourth CFO tour of duty....

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692: Betting on Your Future  | Tim Murphy, CFO, REPAY show art 692: Betting on Your Future | Tim Murphy, CFO, REPAY

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

In 2008, as the subprime mortgage crisis began turning the Street’s brash dealmakers into a squeamish clan of risk-averse bankers, Tim Murphy, an associate at Credit Suisse, decided that it was time to try some slots. Lots of them. “I took a gamble in the casino space—it was probably one of the best decisions that I have made in my career and one the best decisions that we have made as a family,” explains the finance leader, who accepted a director of finance position with Cadillac Jack, a fast-growing slot machine manufacturing company based in Georgia.   At the time, Murphy’s...

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691: Get Out of the Weeds |  Rob Krolik, Partner, Burst Capital (CFO emeritus) show art 691: Get Out of the Weeds | Rob Krolik, Partner, Burst Capital (CFO emeritus)

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

When Rob Krolik agreed to join us for a CFO (emeritus) episode, we expected to hear about the successful business turnaround chapter that he added to his finance resume while CFO at Move.com. We also anticipated learning about his years at Yelp, where—back in 2011, as the firm’s new CFO—he was credited with helping to lead one of the year’s most successful IPOs. While Krolik was only too happy to share a few thoughts regarding both of these chapters, he also reflected on a place in time about which we never expected to hear—namely, when a speech delivered by the outgoing president of...

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690: The Next 100 Years | Arleen Paladino, CFO,  Crum & Forster show art 690: The Next 100 Years | Arleen Paladino, CFO, Crum & Forster

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

In the early 1980s, when Arleen Paladino joined Crum & Forster as a 21-year-old internal audit trainee, she was frequently sent to remote office locations to complete audits of financial statements the data from which were then transferred to keypunch cards and fed into a giant mainframe at the insurance company’s Morristown, New Jersey, headquarters “While this might seem like a long time ago, we just decommissioned the mainframe last year,” says Paladino, who entered Crum & Forster’s CFO office in 2017 after serving as a senior vice president of the company’s internal...

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Early in his finance career, Anders Fohlin discovered that he could ratchet up his capacity to consume information and problem-solve simply by drawing pictures.

However, what had originated more as a personal observation would eventually evolve to something more as he discovered that his visuals could serve others.  

“I started to regularly draw processes on white boards and paper to make things very visual for everybody and help others to get the full picture,” explains Fohlin, whose knack for creating visuals and goal of making things more visible “for everybody” led him to begin viewing routine meetings as opportunities for visualization.

Says Fohlin: “I found that process maps and gathering people in the same room was a really good way to spark energy and collaboration and have people feel that they were important and doing something more than just shoveling coal.”   

Fohlin adds that his early efforts to create greater collaboration and inclusion ended up opening the door for him to various senior finance roles and eventually led him to the CFO office at software developer Medius.

Among the guiding principles that Fohlin says have influenced his leadership style and approach over time is the notion of transparency.

Ten years ago, while a senior finance executive at NASDAQ, he participated in a series of meetings to discuss the adoption of an activity-based costing model. “We would sit around the table and go product by product to explore ways in which we could improve,” he recalls, “and this was done with representatives from all of the different functions.”

Part of the approach involved sharing numbers more widely across the organization and downward to the workforce at large.

“If each employee can see the overall picture and what aligns their daily activities with the strategy and vision of the company, then they make better decisions,” explains Fohlin, who adds that today—as a CFO—he’s still drawing pictures. –Jack Sweeney