The position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a big responsibility, and even more so in a fast -paced technology industry. Getting started with CFOs to run a business that is growing in business and making money fast is not an easy task.
If you are a new professional looking for information about this career path, or a middle school professional looking to improve your skills, there is no better way to learn than by consulting with a technical expert. To that end, we’ve brought you some independent advice from TravelPerk’s current COO and former CFO, Huw Slater (LinkedIn).
Huw has nearly two years of excellence, including 10 years in finance positions at BT Group, 3 years as VP of International Finance and Operations at Box, and CFO positions. ma Typeform and Travelperk. To learn more about Huw and his top advice for beginning CFOs, check out his interview on Soldo’s podcast, “The CFO Playbook.”
Huw’s journey to becoming a talented CFO began with a surprise: the physics department of the University of Manchester. Building on her interest in math and science, she graduated with a BSc in Astrophysics in 2003.
So how did he change his gaze from the stars to the C-suite? After having a meeting with a British Telecom employee and a conversation about rugby, Huw joined the team as a freshman and started his finance business. He started out as an accountant and worked his way up to becoming an Accountant. He later teamed up with footwear company Box as they expanded ahead of the IPO. He moved to Barcelona to take on a CFO role at Typeform, before becoming CFO and COO of TravelPerk.
Although astrophysics and money may seem like very different subjects, Huw found some interesting differences between the two. Both require strong research skills, and the ability to uncover difficult facts and break them down into basic ideas. They work together to find and ask the right questions.
In physics, the speed Which is a measure of speed and direction. This is about business: to get results, leaders need combine speed with focus. CFOs start with maintaining a strong growth path within a company with multiple moving parts.
Another physics concept is directly related to the responsibilities of the executive entropy: trouble, uncertainty, or failure. In professional terms, that’s the way to deal with the embarrassment that comes with it every day. Speaking to Steve Jobs, Huw said the CFOs should be “Say ‘no’ to 999 good ideas, so they can say ‘yes’ to any great idea.”
How TravelPerk overcame the cancer crisis
The COVID-19 disease has been a major challenge for businesses across all industries, and the journey has been highly relevant. Fortunately, TravelPerk has come a long way from the illness, without having to make any redundancies. So how did the leadership team handle this problem?
According to Huw, the TravelPerk team scheduled a class meeting about 10 days before the launch of the first COVID-19 lockers. At that meeting, the leader had to address the misunderstanding of the disease as soon as the minority knew what the future held. They set up a marketing plan for the different models in the two parts and decided to cut back on sales time and release new leases. They then agreed to provide weekly updates to board members as the situation progressed, planning to make major cuts within two months if required. status.
The main focus here is long -term thinking. For example, while layoffs may reduce financial pain in the short term, they can also hurt the long -term health of the business. But the company intends to make investment cuts in areas that show high financial security and low impact. They also made some amazing choices, such as doubling the size of the engineering company as a contributor to future business success.
Finally, the COVID-19 disease has done well new types of business trips. Travel -related costs are expected to increase in 2021, and the market is expected to grow in 2022. As businesses move to full -featured or hybrid models, the market is expected to grow. local meetings should include small groups. external, corporate development activities, and more. In this way, TravelPerk has a better future.
In the meantime, TravelPerk is continuing its focus and establishing more partnerships with businesses such as Soldo (a travel agency with pre -paid business cards). In this way, we are able to offer customers a 360 ° travel offer, while staying true to our best practice. Using our SaaS software, companies can streamline their business travel plans, gain control and insight over their investments and ensure business travelers maintain their independence. . It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Why CFOs need to start learning simple communication
At TravelPerk, we focus on communication and communication. That’s why it’s not surprising that Huw said direct communication He is one of the keys to success as a CFO.
Part of this design market. There’s no question that knowledge of the industry is important, and people appreciate it – a Paychex survey showed that 83.3% of employees with very clear job descriptions were satisfied with their jobs. However, this need to be clear about every problem does not apply: research also shows that employees are more concerned about the problems that are most relevant to them.
According to Huw, “extreme transparency” can quickly become an unwanted form of embarrassment. While organizations need to be aware of critical issues, increasing them without relevant knowledge will only waste their time. Realistic communication is about giving the right information, to the right people, at the right time. While this idea is not difficult, it needs to be implemented and practiced.
On the other hand, when it comes to goal setting and goals, the guilt on the side of “overcommunication” is much better. Huw promotes a broad and honest way to share success and the community. In this way, teams can continue and understand why the goals are set as they are.
On a personal level, CFOs need to remember to give themselves where they need to be to be good communicators. Huw wants to set aside 45 minutes of “one time” after returning home to rest and rebuild his strength. However, he also knew that he could inspire those around him – in the long run, this was obvious.
Setting goals and KPIs in a fast -paced technology startup
While serious goals are appealing to investors, these goals are also necessary True and obtainable for the company. The goal is not to get people to the next goal, but to enable them to continue working without fire.
At TravelPerk, the implementation team always meets to think about goals, and then gives them to the long -term leadership team for consideration before finalization. While goals are sometimes unavoidable, it’s important to keep this in mind – sometimes losing a goal is more than 10% possible, but losing one in 50 % will be greatly reduced.
Huw believes goals are always necessary. For example, he recalls a situation in a previous workplace where employees at the lower levels of the business hierarchy were given more goals than their seniors. They often miss goals, hurting them, and the steering team gets bonuses. To prevent such consequences, Huw advocates setting realistic goals within the organization, while communicating with staff and board.
To balance implementation with a strong focus, TravelPerk’s leadership team allocates about 10% of resources to “moonshot goals” (higher goals, new goals) and 70% to “improvement goals” (normal business practices).
Become a professional CFO in the tech world
If one CFO has a major goal, it is: move fast with minimal resources. Of course, this is a serious problem. To achieve their goals, CFOs today often choose to invest in software programs like TravelPerk and free up their employees ’time for more important tasks.
You are a first leader, and a second CFO.
Huw Slater, COO at TravelPerk
That said, while CFOs are responsible for financial accounting, financial planning and monitoring, metrics, and financial management, the CFO’s main focus is on communication and advanced business planning. Successful CFOs need to be over-index on leadership by looking at both team goals and objectives. Funding should support the overall development of the business from an organization, not confrontationally.
Huw’s final words of advice for financial leaders:
Run the fire… to find the most difficult problem in the team. Just go and help someone, do it. That’s how you grow.
Huw Slater, COO at TravelPerk