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

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Release Date: 09/02/2020

644: Thwarting COVID By Rethinking Opportunities | Mike Brower, CFO, Office Evolution show art 644: Thwarting COVID By Rethinking Opportunities | Mike Brower, CFO, Office Evolution

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Back in the late 1980s, Mike Brower’s list of audit clients included a roster of oil and gas companies as well a local university and a number of different state and local government entities. It was the type of client list that any accountant based in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming, might covet, a fact made all the more undeniable by having Taco John’s International top the list. A restaurant franchisor with over 450 restaurants nationwide, Taco John’s first began serving local Cheyenne customers in the 1960s, before expanding rapidly across the Plains and upper Midwest as it outfitted...

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643: The Rise of People-Centric Finance  | Katie Rooney, CFO, Alight Solutions show art 643: The Rise of People-Centric Finance | Katie Rooney, CFO, Alight Solutions

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Back in 2015, Katie Rooney was only 7 months into her first industry CFO role at Aon when her boss asked her to exit the office. “He came into my office on November 1 and said, ‘I’m retiring, and I want you to take on my role. I’m leaving in 8 weeks,’” recalls Rooney, who says that the news triggered a mix of surprise and fear, which she recalls outwardly expressing with the words “Oh, my God!” Her boss quickly sought to ease her concerns. “He said: ‘You know what? It will be the best thing for you. If I stick around, you will never get the credit from the team,” explains...

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642: The Virtues of Top Line Growth  | Sachin Patel, CFO, Apixio show art 642: The Virtues of Top Line Growth | Sachin Patel, CFO, Apixio

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It’s not uncommon for career-building executives inside the finance realm to obtain an MBA in order to pivot their careers in a new direction. Such was the case for Sachin Patel, who after finding some early success as a systems engineer at IBM Corp. began to study the path before him more closely. “One of the things that you don’t very often get to do as an engineer is to articulate what you did by using the written word or even verbally. Just having this not be a feature of the job was something that began to be evident to me,” says Patel, who as the years passed found the laconic...

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641:  The IPO Playbook & Creating Opportunity for Others | Steve Cakebread, CFO, Yext show art 641: The IPO Playbook & Creating Opportunity for Others | Steve Cakebread, CFO, Yext

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“It’s not cheap to go public,” concedes CFO Steve Cakebread, echoing the oft-repeated refrain that founders and CFOs confront when considering the prospect of selling shares in their companies to the public. Concessions aside, it will come as little surprise to Wall Street and private investors alike that Cakebread—a seasoned finance leader who has taken public such companies as Salesforce, Pandora, and his latest firm, Yext—has come not to bury IPOs, but to praise them.  And 2020 might be the year when founders and CEOs are prepared to listen.   Certainly, few of...

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640: Communicating Your Strategic Plan | James Samuels, CFO, EXUMA Biotech show art 640: Communicating Your Strategic Plan | James Samuels, CFO, EXUMA Biotech

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Jamie Samuels still recalls some of the raised eyebrows that he saw after having completed in short order both the verbal and written portions of an exam that his future employer administered to job applicants. Not unlike most of his fellow applicants, Samuels had been invited to take the exam after responding to a newspaper advertisement, but, unlike his peers, he had been the only foreign applicant—or, more important, the only foreign applicant able to complete both portions of the exam in fluent Chinese. “At that time, my written Chinese was very good because I had only recently...

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639:  Thriving at the Deep End | Catherine Birkett, CFO, GoCardless show art 639: Thriving at the Deep End | Catherine Birkett, CFO, GoCardless

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

Back in the early 2000s, Catherine Birkett found herself being pulled into confidential meetings where her company’s senior management was discussing restructuring plans with the company’s largest investor. The company—a fiber optics telecom firm known as Interoute—was not yet 6 years old, but its days appeared to be numbered as the company sought to weather the telecom industry’s historic collapse.   As Interoute’s top FP&A executive, Birkett knew from the ongoing business plan’s numbers that massive changes were urgently needed, and she as well as others were not...

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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

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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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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 documents that Gruner + Jahr management ultimately used to brief its board.

“My job was to help senior management translate their investment proposals, budget requests, or whatever they needed to get done, and very often they needed money,” explains Theimann, who adds that while the position was not officially a finance one, this early experience of being a “business case builder” later helped to propel him into a number of FP&A and senior business development roles.

Theimann, who would step into his first CFO role in 2005, has now occupied the CFO office for several early-stage companies, the latest being Applicaster, a SaaS developer specializing in app development and content distribution. –Jack Sweeney