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?
I started in finance in public accounting at Arthur Anderson in the early 1990s. It was a great way to get exposure to a lot of different industries and companies. I was able jump into my career, learning from really talented people within public accounting, as well strong leaders at a number of different client companies. I continue to grow in my profession by surrounding myself with talented people. It’s one of the reasons I joined ABILITY Network.
What is unique about your role with the technology industry, compared to other industries?
The speed of change within technology is greater than most industries. That dynamic increases exponentially when you couple it with the rate of change within the healthcare industry. My role, and that of my team, is focused on enabling business leaders to make informed decisions about our business−quickly. As part of a leading healthcare information technology company, we simply can’t afford a “wait-and- see” approach.
What do you find most interesting or challenging about being a modern-day CFO?
I think some people think of a CFO as the traditional accountant, crunching numbers and focused on “the books.” The truth is, the modern CFO role has evolved far beyond accounting. CFOs today are helping direct business strategy, deciding where to invest capital−both financial and human−and making decisions that have organization-wide impact. They play a bigger role in the company’s leadership, both internally and externally. It is a very exciting role.
At the same time, CFOs are challenged by having to make pragmatic decisions with information that is less than perfect or less than complete. I think a lot of CFOs got into finance because they’re analytical by nature, focused on making decisions based on having all the data and facts. The reality is organizations do not have time to have 100% of the information prior to making a decision–especially in the technology industry. And that can be challenging.
Why did you decide to move from BCBSMN to Ability?
Two reasons: One, ABILITY is a leading healthcare information technology company operating in a sector
that is rapidly growing and expanding. The opportunity to be part of the leadership team in a strong,
growing company, experiencing great success was very attractive to me.
Two, ABILITY is a values- and mission-driven company. Our teams are singularly focused on helping
healthcare providers across the continuum simplify complexity. The energy that comes from that focus
How is success measured in your role as a CFO?
Success for me is measured by the contribution I and my teams make towards the business’ objectives.
ABILITY has a structured framework that is used to ensure that all teams are aligned to the company’s goals. The pieces that the Finance organization owns are measured by: the overall performance of the organization (i.e. financial results in terms of profitable growth); rigor and structure around our planning process to ensures we are investing in the most critical areas; and compliance with internal financial controls and standards.
What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of the office?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and our two children. Cycling and downhill skiing are my passions.
What advice would you have for someone in finance who wants to become a tech CFO?
Learn as much as you can about as many industries and companies as you can. It’s the best way to find
what really interests you. In that process, use every interaction with a finance or business leader as an
opportunity to learn. Uncover the attributes that have made those people successful and see if they
could be useful to you. And at the same time, pay attention and learn from their mistakes. Absorb as
much as you can from your business, your colleagues and your industry.
How do you effectively manage expectations to help everyone in the company know what their priorities should be?
At ABILITY, we use a structured framework to define overall company objectives and goals. Each functional area aligns their strategic imperatives to these overall goals. These strategic imperatives are the “north stars” around which each employee’s individual priorities align. Clearly articulating and reinforcing expectations around this “line-of- sight” from the company’s goals to the individual’s should leave no question on priorities.
What is one question you want to ask of your tech CFO peers?
Of the emerging technologies (AI, AR, Blockchain), which is going to disrupt and/or impact your business
the most and how are you addressing it?
Is there anything else you would like to add?