The CFO role has evolved from financial management to a strategic partnership driving business success. Integrating finance into the business operating fabric is crucial for leveraging the CFO's expertise and ensuring you embed financial considerations in decision-making. By embracing technology, enhancing financial visibility, and cultivating a culture of financial literacy, organizations can unlock the full potential of their CFOs. But how can you successfully integrate finance into your business' operating fabric to make it its beating heart? Sinohe Terrero has all the answers.
Sinohe Terrero is CFO and COO at Envoy. Envoy is a workplace platform that brings together everything you need to seamlessly and securely run one workplace or a hundred. Sinohe has over fifteen years of leadership experience. He stepped into his current role as Envoy’s CFO in 2020. Before Envoy, Sinohe served as CFO and COO of Quid Inc., a big data and analytics company. At Indiegogo and Etsy, he led the finance and data teams. Sinohe holds an MBA in Finance from Baruch College in New York City.
Welcome back to CFO Weekly, where we’re talking with financial leaders about how to build efficiency in their teams, create time for strategy, and ultimately get results. With your host, Megan Weis, let’s jump right in.
Megan - 00:25: Today my guest is Sinohe Terrero. Sinohe has over 15 years of leadership experience. He stepped into his current role as Envoy CFO in 2020. Envoy is transforming modern workplaces for flexible work to bring people together so that they can connect, collaborate, and thrive. Envoy’s workplace platform has redefined how companies welcome visitors, improve the employee experience, book desks, and conference rooms, and manage workplace analytics in 16,000 locations around the globe by designing products for a flexible workplace experience. Companies like Slack, Pinterest, and Warby Parker rely on Envoy to create an unrivaled first impression and keep their offices secure and compliant. Prior to Envoy, Sinohe served as CFO and COO of Quidd, Inc., a big data and analytics company. He has also worked at Indiegogo and Etsy. Sinohe holds an MBA in finance from Baruch College in New York City. Sinohe, thank you very much for joining me on today’s episode of CFO Weekly.
Sinohe - 00:01:33: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Megan - 00:01:35: Yeah, today our topic is making finance part of the business’s operating fabric. And it’s a crucial objective for today’s CFOs. And once achieved, we’ll help a CFO to survive when times get tough and thrive when times are good. So, Sinohe, I’m really looking forward to learning from you today. So let’s go ahead and get started. First and as always, let’s start with you and your story as to how you got to where you are today.
Sinohe - 00:02:00: Yeah, so I say that like some folks, I don’t have my stories a curved road, as you say.
Megan - 00:02:06: Those are always the best stories.
Sinohe - 00:02:09: I grew up in the Bronx in New York City and the district is called Morrisania. So at the time when I was like in middle school, that was actually the poorest district in the US in terms of per capita income. I have an identical twin brother and both of us were DJs and we wanted to be music producers. Like that was the first dream, if you will. And we actually started college trying to go for like a degree in electronic engineering to start. But at one point my brother just decided he wanted to be a lawyer and that was the end of the dream. And so from that point, I had to figure out what to do. And I knew I was good at numbers, but I didn’t know what you did with that back in those days. I knew I was good at numbers and I knew that every company needed an accountant. And so once my brother went to a law route, I was like, well, I know that I don’t want to be a lawyer, and I know that I want to be gainfully employed. And I was like, all right, well, where can I deploy my skills? And then accounting just came as a natural thing because I think particularly when you’re the outside in, you just think if you’re good at numbers, you should be an accountant.
Megan - 00:03:15: It’s a great career to get into. It can lead a lot of different directions, but talk to us about Envoy and your role there.
Sinohe - 00:03:23: Yeah, so Envoy, so we are a tech company, a startup in San Francisco, and we power the places where people work best together. We’re a workplace platform that brings together everything you need from seamlessly and securely running your workplace to having a solution that welcomes visitors, improve the workplace experience, book desks, and meeting rooms, and manage deliveries. And now I think what’s exciting for me most is data because I think that now with the hybrid work environment, data is such a critical part of what companies need. So, Envoy, I’m the CFO and COO here. I’ve been here for a little bit over three and a half years. And currently, as is sometimes the case in a lot of startups, finance people, get to like wear a lot of different hats. So here I oversee finance and FP&A clearly but also deal desk, legal, HR, and recruiting. And for a little while, I have to wear the hat of running sales.
Megan - 00:04:21: So tell us a bit about what Envoy does.
Sinohe - 00:04:24: Envoy is a workplace platform that brings together everything you need to run your workplace. So from welcoming visitors and booking desks or meeting rooms to optimizing your space for data analytics.
Megan - 00:04:35: And what excites you about working for a startup?
Sinohe - 00:04:39: I think for me, this is really where I fit in really well. I... To me, when you work at a startup, what you have is you have the ability to really see sort of your decisions play out in the results of the business way at a way more intimate and close level. I work very, very closely with my CEO, and so a lot of it is about what goes well beyond what would be normally my role in another company because a lot of my time is spent on strategy. A lot of my time is spent on connecting the different staff and executives that work here. So I find a lot of joy in that. I say that I love being sort of like the fact that I’m Google Earth because I see the big picture, but I’m also Google Maps to give directions, but then I may have to be like Google Street View. So it’s like I need to zoom in at a number of different levels. And I think that a startup really allows you to show that sort of superpower to be able to come in and understand the business at an intimate level but also be able to step out and look at it broadly. So there’s never a dull moment also in a startup. That’s for sure.
Megan - 00:05:42: And you joined Envoy right before the COVID pandemic shut down offices all across the globe. So talk to us about your experience during that time and what was it that kept you going.
Sinohe - 00:05:54: Yeah, so I joined Envoy right before the apocalypse. I joined the company that basically made products for offices, right? When people were not going to offices. At first, it was, it felt like a questionable decision. But in all seriousness, I think that COVID was probably one of the best things to happen to the company. And I can tell you a little bit more about that because it accelerated our product development in a number of different products and features that Larry, our CEO, had always envisioned. And when you work with founders, I think sometimes founders are thinking three steps ahead and sometimes things catch up to them, right? And it sounds awesome. And sometimes they’re just ahead of their time and it doesn’t materialize. This was a situation where Larry really was thinking ahead in terms of some of the things he wanted to do in the office. So we were better able to pivot and change quickly when COVID happened. On the business side, we had to get to work quickly. The company was on a great trajectory and was on track to raise a C round in 2020. But clearly, after COVID hit, we had to make some drastic changes to make sure that we can survive, quite frankly. I think at first, like many other companies, we didn’t know how much this was going to last, but we sent everybody home for two weeks, that then turned to two months, that then turned to two quarters, and now we’re three years in. And so the first thing I had to do from a CFO standpoint was I had to secure the balance sheet. And so we got right to work to make sure that we were going to have enough funding. We got venture debt so that we can withstand this because we knew it was going to be temporary. We knew that our product was going to be needed by companies. And so we were never worried that it was like a company-ending thing. It was more like, how long is this going to take? Unfortunately, like many other companies, we also had to make some changes in our business. We had to execute a RIF. We had to cut down on basically everything that we can. And I think what we did that really worked well for us was we really rallied the company around these initiatives because, at a startup, part of the beauty is that everyone’s an owner. And we try to make sure that we are keeping that mindset of ownership front and center because then people can really understand the decisions that are coming down from the CFO if you will. And it’s not like the evil CFO is cutting everything. We gave people a lot of context. We brought them along on our journey into what we were trying to accomplish. On the product side, we had to pivot. We had a product that was solely focused on visitors at that time. I mean, we did have deliveries and we had just launched the product of a room but it was mostly visitors. And we needed to do what customers needed at the time. At the time of COVID that was health and safety protocols. And so we switched and rolled out a product. I mean, I think what I would say in blazing speed, I think two months into this thing, we already had a beta of fully helping customers get back so that they can get back to their work because although we think everyone left their offices, there were a number of industries that didn’t. There were a number of industries that needed to be in office. And so we had to make those changes pretty quickly. And I think we really, again, rallied and organized. And it turned out that all those moves were the right moves. We were able to get back on track and eventually were able to raise the C round. And now we’re really well capitalized as a company. So it was and continues to be a very wild ride.
Megan - 00:09:11: And talk to me about the products at Envoy. Who is the ideal client and what problems are you solving?
Sinohe - 00:09:18: Yeah, great question. I think honestly, it really depends on the buyer and their needs. Right now, what hybrid has done, particularly to the CFOs, CHROs, and other folks, is that your space and your space management is more than just like, do you have a nice office, right? You have to make sure that you are understanding the flow of people, you’re understanding the flow of space, the utilization of the space, and that’s going to continue to evolve into how people work best together, how does that impact their performance as a team and as an individual. And now we just finished launching our workplace product, which is essentially combining some of our products that were more geared towards offices and employees rather than visitors, and that’s our rooms product, or like when you’re selecting a conference room for a meeting, pardon me, our desk product, which is either for hot desking or for fixed desks if people are coming into the office, our deliveries product, which allows people to receive deliveries seamlessly in their organizations, and a lot of people still do that in their offices, and then there’s the data and analytics. So the workplace combines all of those things and it does some pretty cool things like it looks at your Wi-Fi, and as soon as people are actually logging into the office Wi-Fi, it will check them in for the day, which creates a seamless experience for the employee, but at the same time, the people that need to collect and harness this data can get that information without doing much work. And what we found is that these leaders are now being asked for data, I mean, exponentially more than they were before because work is changing and how people are coming into their offices change. So that’s our workplace product that also has really cool things like mapping so that you know what are the points of interest within your map, you can understand where people are sitting, so if you know where colleagues are coming in, you know also when people are coming in, it’ll alert you so that you know that it may be a colleague that you want to collaborate with, and also does things like if you are, let’s say you schedule a room, a conference room, and it’s two of you and you schedule the room for six, it’ll smartly tell you, hey, you’re coming in, you have this meeting, we found a better room for you because again, we want to make sure that we’re helping companies make better use of their space. Our visitors' product continues to be our bread and butter because companies still need to take in visitors and they need to get things like NDAs signed and also create a great experience for visitors that come on-site, so things like making sure that people have access to the Wi-Fi, that they can get into the turnstiles, those kind of things, so those are core products. The other line that I can’t forget to mention is that we have our connect product, which is really for landlords, so people that have multiple tenants, they basically can put this in their lobby and it is a seamless way for the building to coordinate the entrance of people, both employees and visitors for their customers. So we cover a lot of ground when it comes to workplaces and that’s why we say that we power the places where people work best together.
Megan - 00:12:26: Yeah, that’s really cool. And I’m sure with commercial space and office space, people cut down on it in the last three years and now they need to make better use of what they have. So sounds like a great tool.
Sinohe - 00:12:38: Yeah, we’re definitely seeing that. And it’s not just the use, people are really trying to figure out how they work best together. And I don’t think anyone has the solution, quite frankly, we’re seeing a lot of different experiments play out in our customer base. What we are seeing is that more and more people feel like they need to have at least some number of days where everyone is working together in an office. We’re seeing that trend. But there are also people that are on the other side and say, hey, you know what? We want to be a bit more flexible, a bit more remote, but that creates different challenges for leaders that just didn’t exist before.
Megan - 00:13:09: And you advocate for making finance an integral part of the business operation. Can you elaborate a bit more on what this means?
Sinohe - 00:13:18: Yeah, you know, finance has really evolved for the past years, particularly in software companies, which is where I work mostly. As a profession, we really have gone from bookkeeping and back office to more of front and center, helping teams understand the impact of ROI of the products they’re building. And this really means that the partnerships are more integrated in the decision-making process. I remember a few years back when finance was brought in kind of at the tail end of the decision to sort of like go-no-go, but quite frankly, sometimes it was too late to make any kind of changes in those trains that have left the station. Right now we are embedded and we need to be embedded way earlier in the decision-making process so that we can continue to give input earlier on and people can make those adjustments. So it doesn’t feel like we’re just coming in there and being the “no” CFO like that’s not what I want to be. I never want to be the no CFO. I’m the CFO that wants to enable people to get their job done and to make things happen. And I can’t do that if we’re not really integrated into how we make decisions.
Megan - 00:14:23: heard it called the CF no and yeah that’s not a fun role for anybody to play.
Sinohe - 00:14:29: No one wants to be the CF no, that’s for sure.
Megan - 00:14:33: So as we look at the current tech industry headwinds and events like COVID, what strategic benefits and opportunities does this present for businesses to become or for finance to become embedded within operations?
Sinohe - 00:14:49: Well, I mean, I think there’s a number of different areas where I think this is an incredibly important and powerful thing that we need to do, particularly because in this environment, we’re being asked to do more with less. Right? So that means that we have to be much better at prioritization and much better at understanding what you’re not going to do. And finance now has a bigger seat at the table when it comes to deciding what systems we use. Importantly in tech also is what are we going to build? We have a limited amount of resources, we got a limited amount of engineers. And so this environment really allows us to have a seat at the table where there’s again, true partnership and not the CF no, but really helping folks understand this is what we’re able to do with the resources we have. And let me give you a bigger picture. Let me paint the entire picture. The Google Earth picture if you will, of how this works together so that we can make better decisions together in collaboration.
Megan - 00:15:49: And I mean, you just started three years ago. How did you familiarize yourself with the business? Where do you start?
Sinohe - 00:15:56: I think for me, I’m in a unique situation, well, not unique anymore, but definitely was unique a few years ago where for the last four companies, I run both the financing and the data team. And when you’re running the data team, you are so aware of everything that is moving in the company because the data integrity aspect of it is so critical that you have to really go into the weeds like and understand every part of your organization pretty intimately because your team is the one that’s working with everyone else from marketing to sales to the product on their decision making. And everyone wants to understand if their data is accurate. Everyone wants to understand if the trends that they’re seeing are the right numbers they’re going to look at. And so for me, that always gives me that sort of like supercharged, super fast learning curve because I have to dig in myself and feel comfortable with the data myself because there’s a lot of black-boxing that happens sometimes in organizations when you look at the data and the data reporting. And to me, I’m always conscious of the fact that external parties are going to want to look at your data pretty raw. So you’re going to need to make sure that you verify that every rollout that you have is correct. And then once you go through that verification process, then you can feel trust in the data and then you don’t need to micromanage or go into the weeds. But I go through a process of really understanding the data sets at an intimate level, making sure that I understand how the board decks were put together. So that really helps me get up to speed in any organization, particularly when I joined here three years ago.
Megan - 00:17:27: So as we look at a typical CFO or maybe a historical CFO, what adjustments must be made once finance is made part of the business’s operating fabric? What changes need to happen within the CFO role?
Sinohe - 00:17:43: Well, I think that the CFO is really evolving into a connector and a storyteller. And I think that when you are an operating CFO, I think you have to be ready to wear a lot of hats. That’s the first thing. Again, that intimate knowledge of all of the disciplines makes you sort of the gray hair in the room that can step in when we have some kind of issue. If you look at my career, for example, I’ve run marketing, I’ve run sales, I’ve run risk. At some point, HR, recruiting, legal, deal desk, basically everything except for product and engineering. And it’s because those are the disciplines that there’s some operating that needs to get done there. And a lot of it is based on things that you’ve done. And the discipline of accounting really helps you jump in, but you need to speak the language. You need to be able to communicate. You need to be able to connect with folks and you need to bring them on board with why the decisions that you are making are the best decisions for the business. And I think that when I think about CFO, even when I started, it was more siloed. It was more about balance sheet preparation, financial statements, I should say, forecasting. And then it kind of stopped there to a certain degree. Then you were an intake of information, not as much as a partner. Now you have to be way earlier in the conversations. I’m embedded, I mean, I actually run the strategic sessions here. And so I’m embedded in those conversations much earlier so that I can partner better. And then I think that the last thing I would say is that because we are so intimate with the data and because we wear so many hats, we can just be better partners. Like I’m a better partner to my CRO because I’ve run sales. And so it goes beyond just numbers and a spreadsheet. Like I understand the human side of owning the number, and the challenges of keeping people motivated. I understand like what are the challenges in terms of how we define and design our compensation for folks. And so the CFO now I think has that view, which I think in the past, it wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. And I think that’s a required skill for the new CFO.
Megan - 00:19:51: And I imagine that breaking down those silos requires a lot of relationship building. What’s your advice for winning people over and getting them to trust you and the decisions that you’re making?
Sinohe - 00:20:04: I’m going to use an analogy that I actually use a lot and it sounds terrible, but it’s well-intentioned. I actually have a term for it. I call it butter and knife. And I’d say this, particularly to young professionals that are having a problem making that connection. I said, look, you have to butter people up first before you’re going to poke them. Because you can say the exact same thing, but if there’s no trust, people are going to receive that in a very different way than if it’s someone that they feel is doing it with their best interest at heart, right? That there’s like a good intention, but you don’t get there right away. You have to show that you are there for the benefit of the individual first and foremost. And so what I do is I really first start by educating my pain points because I think everyone is trying their best to do the best job that they can for their discipline. The marketing people, they’re really trying to do the best job they can in marketing, but they sometimes don’t understand the other decisions that are happening on the other side of the business. And so we, CFOs, and then finance leaders, like we have a macro view. It is important for us to educate people. And look, let me walk you through why I’m telling you that this decision, this is the decision that I’m making with context that goes beyond your discipline because I’m the guy that dies by a thousand paper cuts. And sometimes the requests and the asks are very personal and very micro, and people don’t have the context of the macro. And I think that’s one of the things that at least I like to do, like bring people along so that they understand the challenges that I’m facing in making these decisions and trade-offs because we’re all trying to win, right? If the people that I’m empowering are not winning, well, we’re, none of us are winning. If marketing is not winning, I as a CFO, I’m not winning. If sales are not winning, as a CFO, I’m not winning. And so I try to do that. I try to bring people along. I try to help them understand the macro view and just how their decision is one that’s embedded in many decisions. And then afterward, I think after trust is built, then we can have a conversation that’s just way smoother flowing.
Megan - 00:22:13: I love that analogy, butter, and knife. I’m going to remember that one. And thanks for sharing, that’s great advice. So can you discuss with us a time when you successfully integrated finance into the business’ operating fabric and just talk us through the long-term and short-term objectives that you were trying to achieve?
Sinohe - 00:22:32: Yeah, sure. When I was at Etsy back in 2008, those were the good old days when no one was a data scientist. Like you were lucky if you had one person on your staff that knew SQL. We were building up a bunch of teams. We were building up the product team. We’re building the engineering team. And therefore we were building more things, going international, et cetera, but everything was being done based on gut feeling. Right? And so we understood early that we needed to start operating differently in order to better prioritize. And there I say, kill some projects that just were not going to have a positive ROI. And it was a big challenge because when you’re dealing in product-led organizations, the product people, the founders, they feel like they know the right things to do, even context. I call it, some people are data, they’re not data-driven, they’re data selective. They listen to the data when it actually supports their case. The approach that I did in there to kind of change it was really just starting to build a best-in-class team so that we can start quantifying the impact of work. And now the data team reported centrally to finance but was deployed on the field. And I used to call them embedded journalists. Because the job was to make all the product teams feel like they have a valuable resource to help them think through the metrics and the problems. Early in the product development cycle so that they can focus on the product and not necessarily the numbers. But at the same time, since they were centrally reported centrally back to finance, we can all make sure that we’re using the same terminology that we’re using the same data structure, and that I can actually throw in my input earlier in that process. But we needed to do that early on because we wanted to make sure that we were learning to prioritize and quite frankly prioritization is still the biggest challenge that companies big and small have, and we needed to figure out how to fix that.
Megan - 00:24:28: And speaking of data, how do you get people to use and trust data rather than, as you said, just go on their gut feeling?
Sinohe - 00:24:36: That’s a great question. It’s a great challenge. I think the first thing is, again, back to storytelling, we live in a world where there’s a preponderance of data now and people think that if they have many, many, many dashboards, they’re being data-driven. I like to say that you have to peel the onion only up until the point that it makes you cry. And then you need to stop peeling the onion because people just want to go in too many layers in. And so the first thing is, again, back to education is really making sure that everyone is speaking the same language. One of the mistakes that I’ve seen in some organizations that are more siloed is that an active user to team A is not an active user to team B. And therefore, no one really knows what you mean when you say an active user, for example. For me, it’s critical to have a shared glossary if you will, of all of the metrics you’re tracking first and foremost so that there’s no ambiguity as to what you’re tracking. People always understand what we mean when we say that. It’s also the fact that we need to select what are the most critical metrics that you are going to track. What are those metrics? And they cannot be 50. They have to be 10. It has to be something that people can get their heads around. The other thing is transparency. We have here at Envoy, I created my dashboard, I call it morning coffee. And it was basically like, here’s what I look at as a CFO every morning when I wake up, as my morning coffee dashboard. And I think now it’s something that’s used across the organization in every discipline because everybody looks at morning coffee to understand. So I think the thing that you have to do is you have to have a shared understanding of what it is you track. You have to educate why that is the most important and critical metric in the business, not metric its metrics in the business. And then do a bit of storytelling, particularly in our board deck and in our QBRs of what is the most succinct, beautiful story you can say that people feel like they walk around with a full meal if you will. To me, the best analysis is not the analysis that black boxes. The best analysis is the analysis that takes very complex situations and distills them so that mere mortals can read them and understand it pretty quickly. And I think that is part of the challenge of a data leader because then people will really accept and adopt data in their everyday decision-making.
Megan - 00:27:02: And once you’ve established those KPIs, how do you trickle them down so that people understand how what they’re doing affects those KPIs?
Sinohe - 00:27:13: Very, very good question. And I’d say that there are areas of the business where doing that is much easier than others. What we do here is so clearly we come up with metrics, we still use an OKR system here at Envoy. We do the OKRs, do the initiatives underlying the OKRs, and then the initiatives underlying the OKRs, then trickle down to people’s individual work. All of those things need to map back as closely as possible to the main metric. And there are specific things, for example, if we’re talking about, let’s say, bookings, as an example, the marketing, we understand the funnel of how marketing impacts the bookings, right? Whether it’s new business or renewals and upsells, we understand what marketing plays there. Is it leads? Is it SQOs? Is it MQOs? And so what we do is we make sure that everyone understands how’s the cake layered, if you will, at an intimate level so that we know, well, we said that we were going to do, I’m going to throw out a number, let’s say 100,000 in bookings. We know that 50% of that or 60% is going to be for new business. We know that of the new business, 20% of that is going to be from marketing. And therefore, it equates to MQOs. And so we’re pretty good at making sure that folks understand the cake layer and then how their specific work impacts those levers. And I think that’s how you bring it in down to the individual level. But as I said, some teams are easier than others to do that. Clearly, the sales teams are easier, and the marketing teams and the product-led teams that are doing specific product delivery, do not have as many features. Those are, you have a clear line of sight. And then the rest of the folks, we have to find creative ways to see, to make sure that their work is lined back to the company-level metrics.
Megan - 00:29:05: And what best practices should organizations consider when thinking about integrating finance into their operating fabric?
Sinohe - 00:29:13: I think the most important thing is, as I’ve been, and I think I’ve been saying a few things that are going in this direction, you need to bring everyone into the tent, right? For example, when we started the cost-cutting measures during COVID, we involved everyone in the company. In a startup, we’re all owners, as I said. And so for us, transparency was key. You just can’t do it in a bunker where the evil CFO is saying no to everything. You have to be transparent. People need to understand why the decisions are being made and you need to over-communicate. We’ve had issues with stock options issuances being late and other things that happen in businesses and things happen. You have to keep everyone in the loop because otherwise they’ll lose trust and they’ll start creating their own stories. As I mentioned, I always give leaders a macro view. It’s easier for me to have a conversation with my CMO about budget when she understands the impact her asks have as it relates to overall performance. And I always say this is not Sinohe’s forecast. These are not Sinohe’s results. We own the results together, so we have to work together. So I think you have to be transparent. You have to over-communicate and you have to bring people into the tent in order to really integrate finance into the operating fabric of a business.
Megan - 00:30:27: And for all those CFOs out there listening that are still operating in siloed organizations, what advice would you have for them? Steer them in the direction of making finance an integral part of their operating fabric.
Sinohe - 00:30:40: That’s a really great question. I think it’s an important challenge. And honestly, it varies, what you should do varies organization by organization. But I think what has worked for me is I’ve always embedded myself in strategic conversations. And I always raised my hand to do the grunt work, if you will, of things like coming up with the agendas for the off-sites. And again, being more visible in the things that are outside of my own territory. I’m very active and own the board deck preparation and the storytelling. And so that allows me to have a conversation with like my marketing leader, for example, where she knows that I’m aware of the story she is trying to put together. And we can have a conversation where she feels like, hey, this is not just the CFO come and ask me three questions about my budget. Like we’re really talking about the marketing strategy here. And not like I would ever tell her what to do, but I think that all leaders are looking for input. They’re looking for other input from other parts of the organization in order to have a fuller picture that they can present. And it also helps them when I can say, hey, I think this is going to be something that the board is going to be interested in. I think this is something that we may want to consider thinking through as we present the information. So I say embed yourself in things outside of finance to the best of your ability, because that is the clearest path to credibility when we’re talking about strategy. You can’t just jump in when it’s like strategy time, when you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, working on spreadsheets and doing your thing. You have to carve out the time to do the other stuff. You have to own OKR processes. You have to own strategic off-sites and strategic agendas and board meetings.
Megan - 00:32:26: Great advice. So last question, as a CFO, what is keeping you up at night right now? What are you worried about what’s out there around the corner?
Sinohe - 00:32:34: There’s a lot keeping me up at night, not necessarily about Envoy specifically, but more about the macroeconomic environment. I think that we’ve experienced an interesting three years for LL companies when it comes to forecasting. There’s been just quite a lot of volatility. We’re still kind of waiting to see what the Fed is going to do at every single Fed meeting, and that creates a lot of ambiguity and lack of clarity, and that continues to keep me up at night. There’s also the impending commercial real estate bubble burst, in my opinion, that something has to give there. And we don’t know what ramifications that will have, not just in the commercial real estate folks, but also in terms of regional banks. So there are some big macro waves that are keeping me up at night. I’m hopeful that things will start to settle in, quite frankly, in a couple of quarters when we can get back to really understanding the pulse of other businesses because it impacts our business, right? Like I cannot properly forecast my business if I don’t understand what’s happening in other companies. If there’s not a normal flow of either growth or contraction that we understand, it’s really hard for me to know what my year is going to look like, what my next year is going to look like. I want to get to a place where we can do a five-year forecast with a high level of confidence. And I think there are very few companies right now that can do that. And so that keeps me up at night just because you want to get to a place where you feel like you’re a bit more in control of your destiny.
Megan - 00:34:03: I’m hopeful too that that normalcy is not so far out in the future. Sinohe, thank you so much for being my guest today.
Sinohe - 00:34:11: Yeah, this was fun. Thank you for having me. Really appreciate you having me on and I love having these conversations.
Megan - 00:34:17: Yeah, I really enjoyed speaking with you, and thank you for finding the time to be here with us today to share your experience and knowledge I wish you and Envoy all the best. And to all of our listeners, please tune in next week, and until then, take care. Thank you.
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In this episode, we discuss:
What is Envoy, and how does it power up productive workplaces and strategic growth?
Why should CFOs make finance an integral part of the business's operation?
How do the current tech industry headwinds and events empower businesses and finance integration?
What changes should happen within the CFO role once finance becomes part of the business operating fabric?
How will the CFO role transform once finance becomes integrated into the business operating fabric?
Powering Productive Workplaces and Strategic Growth
Envoy is a workplace platform that brings together everything you need to run your workplaces, whether it's welcoming visitors, booking desks or meeting rooms, or optimizing your space for Data Analytics. In his role at Envoy, Sinohe oversees finance and FPN, deals with desk legal HR recruiting, and even had a stint running sales.
He believes that working at a startup offers a unique opportunity to witness the direct impact of your decisions on the business. Sinohe works closely with his CEO, and his responsibilities extend far beyond what would be expected in a typical role at another company.
“When you work at a startup, you have the ability to see your decisions play out in the results of the business way at a way more intimate and close level.” Terrero said. - 03:19 - 05:41
Advocating for Integrated Finance
Sinohe advocates for making finance an integral part of the business's operation. He believes finance has evolved over the past years, particularly in software companies, which have gone from bookkeeping and back office tasks to a more prominent role helping teams understand the impact of research and development investments or the products they're building. As a result, partnerships are now more integrated into the decision-making process.
“Finance has evolved over the past years, particularly in software companies. We have gone from bookkeeping and back office to more of front and center, helping teams understand the impact of ROI for the products they're building.” Terrero said. - 13:08 - 14:31
Making Finance a Business' Beating Heart
When considering the current tech industry headwinds and events like Covid, Sinohe believes there are several areas where CFOs have a crucial and powerful step to take in order to embed finance within operations. First, they need to prioritize efficiently and understand what they should leave behind. Additionally, finance now holds a more significant position in determining the systems a business should use. With limited resources and engineers, the environment provides finance with the chance to once again have a seat at the table.
“Finance now has a bigger seat at the table when it comes to deciding what systems we use.” Terrero said. - 14:32 - 15:51
From Numbers to the Beating Heart of a Business
Once finance becomes integrated into the business operating fabric, the CFO becomes a connector and a storyteller. As an operating CFO, you should prepare to wear multiple hats. Possessing intimate knowledge of various disciplines positions you as the experienced voice in the room, capable of stepping in when issues arise. Moreover, effective communication skills and the ability to connect with others are crucial. It is essential to bring colleagues on board with the rationale behind your decisions, ensuring that they understand why these choices are in the best interest of the business.
When Sinohe started as a CFO, the focus was more siloed, primarily involving balance sheet preparation, financial statements, and forecasting. However, the role has expanded beyond that. As a CFO, you must get into conversations much earlier, becoming a true partner rather than just an information gatherer. CFOs also have the advantage of being intimately familiar with data and wearing various hats, which enables them to be valuable partners in business endeavors.
“The CFO is evolving into a connector and a storyteller, and I think that when you are an operating CFO, you have to be ready to wear a lot of hats.” Terrero said. - 17:27 - 19:50
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