Thanks to local commercial real estate pros CBRE for sponsoring our new Meet A Minnesota Tech CFO series!
When and how did you get started in your finance career, specifically within the tech industry?
I was fortunate to land a finance role right out of college in 2006 with HighJump Software, which was a local software company at the time. It was a great opportunity and provided me with a lot of career growth and enthusiasm of the tech industry over the 8 years I was there.
After leaving in 2014, I made a decision that I wanted to stay in the Tech Industry; I was fortunate to be considered and ultimately hired at When I Work.
What is unique about your role with the technology industry, compared to other industries?
I can not speak for other industries, but I would say strategic nature of the role. I am involved in helping plan the short-term and long-term strategy of the company. Working with different leaders on budgeting and building out our core strategy.
What do you find most interesting or challenging about being a modern-day CFO?
As a CFO at When I Work, I find the most interesting challenges are making sure to stay in front of the business. We are moving so fast; it is important to make sure we are able to scale at the same pace of the business, whether that is people investment or technology investment. One interesting difference I have seen at When I Work that I did not experience in my other positions is the demand of data across all departments
Why did you decide to join When I Work?
I was initially approached by Arthur Ventures about the position in November 2014 and was not really in the market for a change after just joining another software company. After a phone call with Patrick Meenan, he connected me with Chad Halvorson. After my phone conversation and first meeting with Chad, I could tell this company was going to be special and a great opportunity to continue to grow my career.
How is success measured in your role as a CFO?
The easiest answer to this question is am I helping the business move forward in achieving its short-term and long-term strategy for our investors. Am I holding myself, my team and the company accountable for the overall health of the business. Am I doing all I can to help support the short-term and long-term strategy.
Have you ever made a decision around office space and commercial leasing?
Yes, I was fortunate enough to have some experience prior to joining When I Work which was my most recent office space decision, relocating When I Work from Saint Paul to Minneapolis. At HighJump, we had over 10 offices which were added through acquisitions that were evaluated from a expand/contract/close standpoint.
If so, what did you learn from the process? How did you select an agent/broker?
Location is an important topic amongst employees. For all the offices spaces I have worked on, we have always tried to make this the least impactful part of the move. Another lesson is to have a good broker representing you, I was fortunate to have work with the brokers we used at When I Work at my previous employer. They are great in helping located and negotiate the space that is right for the business.
If so, what advice would you have for the founder considering their first office lease?
Being the finance person I am, my first recommendation to a founder is to not go big out of the gate. When you are in a startup/VC scenario cash is expensive and it is much more important to invest in the future make sure you have the right hires in place. Also, there is something about being scrappy that sends the right message to your investors and employees.
What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of the office?
My main activities outside of spending time with family and friends would be golfing and heading to the Cabin in the summer.
What advice would you have for someone in finance who wants to become a CFO?
The key advice would be to understand how important it is to be able to fully understand the business you are in. In the Technology space, understanding product, development, marketing, sales and customer care is very important in being able to effectively do your job. If you do not understand how those departments work, you will never have a full understanding of the financials.
How do you effectively manage expectations to help everyone in the company know what their priorities should be?
This is more of a group effort than just one individual’s task. It is important have alignment across all leaders, to have a clear strategy and vision that can inspire and motivate the company.
What is one question you want to ask of your tech CFO peers?
What more can we do to help continue to build the MN Tech community.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for taking the time for the interview.