Meet A Minnesota Tech CFO: Kent Lillemoe, Field Nation

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Thanks to local commercial real estate pros CBRE for sponsoring the Meet A Minnesota Tech CFO series.

The CFO: Kent Lillemoe, Field Nation

When and how did you get started in your finance career, specifically within the tech industry?

I started with a CPA firm out of college and quickly realized that career was not for me. I was introduced to the founder of CyberOptics in 1985 when it was a start-up. I loved the early-stage, entrepreneurial, high technology culture.

What is unique about your role with the technology industry, compared to other industries?

The pace of change is challenging. Some companies resist change. Technology companies create and thrive on change.

What do you find most interesting or challenging about being a modern-day CFO?

Forecasting new product adoption and rates of customer acquisition – especially in a B2B environment. Companies make models based on many assumptions that are difficult to validate.

Why did you decide to join Field Nation?

I consulted with Field Nation for two years prior to becoming an employee. The role demanded more than part-time and I thought opportunity was too good to pass up. The foundation was solid and the potential for continued growth was (and remains) outstanding.

How is success measured in your role as a CFO?

The success of the company is a reflection of the team, not any one individual. If the team is functioning at a high level, everyone gets part of the credit.

How do you effectively manage expectations to help everyone in the company know what their priorities should be?

Our strategic, tactical and financial / growth objectives are discussed with the whole company each quarter. We regularly report via company and departmental meetings.

 

If so, what advice would you have for the founder considering their first office lease?

I have been involved with several office space / leasing transactions. These are difficult with emerging growth companies because to staffing needs vary and the business models are still developing. The key is to stay as flexible as possible – try not to over commit for too much space or too long a period of time.

What do you enjoy doing with your time outside of the office?

Being with family – I have wife, two daughters, two son-in-laws and a grandson.
Being outdoors – biking, hiking, golfing and enjoying Minnesota.
Traveling to interesting places.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to become a CFO?

Same for any career – find a role where you are excited to be involved with the company’s product and the team you are working with.

What is one question you want to ask of your tech CFO peers?

Many of the questions that I ask my peers relates to either references on outside resources (banks, consultants, etc.) or organizational development. Rarely do I ask pure financial questions.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

One of the biggest challenges in a early-stage company is organizational development. In the early stages, each individual you add impacts the company’s future needs. Two rules I have learned are (1) you can’t have too many smart people and (2) if a candidate isn’t an “ABSOLUTELY YES”, then they are a no.

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