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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
um, so I always like to share that. Um I took a very indirect path to get to where I am today, so I'm I'm a CFO. I like I really enjoy doing that. But I did not come through the accounting routes, the investment banking round or any other typical sort of finance approach. Um, I have actually had a much more general background. I've been, uh, in various roles, ranging from, you know, operations. I've run sales a couple of times. Uh, Andi, even, um uh, GM on CEO of some small companies. And I think that those have all better prepared me for being a finance executive, sitting across the table from my peers and having a better sense of what their issues are. Um, what what's really interesting? You know, you talk about, you know, what are the incidents there? Sort of experiences that sort of shaped how I got here. Um, ironically, I kept taking. I sort of had this feeling like I wanted to be doing something else. Like I would read CFO magazine, which is a very non accounting finance, you know, oriented magazine talking about, you know, things that businesses go through and just And I found it very interesting. And, um, yet the past that I kept getting lead down, wound up being different. And, um, as it as it turns out, you know, I was part of the dot com bubble burst, you know, in 99 2000 and had to start up that time. And, you know, I started to stray very much on that path. Away from thinking of what, you know, that this is really was gonna be an outcome for me. I wound up when our startup, you know, hit the skids as as many did. Um, uh, I wound up starting to explore the financial out again, and it just it was not the right time to do it. And especially with my background, I was getting a lot of council. I have to start over. And so you asked about incidences and experiences and and things just sort of work out. You know, I started taking those GM and operational roles. I wound up in a startup. It didn't work out with a finance person, and we had toe we hit some speed bumps where we had to sort of, you know, um reinvent ourselves and we did that. And in that process, I was asked to take on the financial, and that began kind of the first step of doing that. And I've had a couple of incidents exactly like that where I think, being open to sometimes you get thrown certain choices in your path that just allow for, um, those decisions. That's exactly what's happened in my case.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? Tell us about weekly work hours, including the time spent on work travel and working from home.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
It's funny. I just got asked on the survey since Cove. It have hours increased. And the answer is absolutely, um, you know, I I mean, I'll tell you it at my level that the downside is, especially in today's age, where you've got, you know, Elektronik leashes. Um, it, you know, there's no real time bound. I mean, I could find myself on calls your meetings, you know, over the weekends or in the evenings. Um, you know, my typical week is probably, you know, easily, 50 hours easily, right. But but it can absolutely vary and suddenly become, you know, notably mawr. If I'm working on financing or, um, some other thing of that nature, Um, in terms of you know what my overall responsibilities are they vary with companies. So, um, a zay said it hired. I've had responsibilities for legal, for HR for Data Analytics. In addition to you know, both the finance side in the accounting side, um, facilities as well. Andi, I've been in other companies where it's just been, you know, accounting and finance. So it's so varies by organization. Um, and in terms of, you know, the big decisions that I'm faced with and especially now I mean, you know, this whole environment with Cove it is fascinating. Um, it is. It ranges the gamut of it's really all cash management. Onda how we're going, Thio manage Our resource is, uh, in in an environment, we just to give you context. We've seen about a 65% hit against what our expectations were for the first half of the year. So far, things were just stabilizing now. So it's been pretty. It's been a challenge.

What are the challenges in a job like yours? What approaches are effective in dealing with these challenges? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
um, I think I might divide the challenges into two groups right there. The challenges that I might say, um, you know, one has, you know, with your own organization, a CFO, and then they're the challenges that, you know, you have more broadly outside your organization, and then there's there's I mean, look, I have lots of other challenges. Um, you know, um uh, but But I want to talk about those, and I'll come back to the others, you know, on a broader level within the finance and accounting area and particularly in more growth oriented companies. You you have a tendency, and I think this is a little bit of question later on, but you have a tendency to attract people who normally gravitate to accounting and finance as a career. Um, sometimes, like, um, there's a certain mold that comes with that in terms of being, ah, bit more black and white on. But that is not at all how it works, especially in a higher growth company. I mean, you're wearing many different hats. Accounting, as you know, isn't perfectly clean on. Do you know there's lots of subjectivity and making this and so internally um it's helping people realize that, um, step back and look at the business and and understand what you're doing in the context with the business and by the internally I mean the the finance and accounting team. It's not just about getting the numbers, you know, right? Making sure, but is doing things exactly correctly. But it's is the business moving the way that we wanted to be doing, you know, to be moving. And how are you helping externally? Um, you know, the challenges there can often be for me is how do I get everybody on the same page? So I liken a lot of what I do. Thio. You know, it's sort of like if we're all going to go live in Germany, then then I want to be able to teach the language that everybody can speak the same language and we can we can get by and finance accounting Is that language that you know to me, the more people who haven't understanding of how what they do impacts the business. Ultimately that translates into the finances. Then they get the sense of how they're contributing. They understand the business and and how that works. Um, obviously that there are other challenges to deal with, right? I'm dealing with the market and what's happening with you know, the combination of of what we've seen, for example, in this pandemic, how that's affecting funding in our case, we were actually had just gone out to try to sell the company. So that created some real issues. Major challenges. Ah, lot of board, uh, interactivity and, uh, disruption. I spent a lot of my time dealing with board matters on bond. You know, the the CEO and I trying to navigate, you know where we want to take this company to. So the realm of challenges is certainly never ending.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) are typically used in a role like yours?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
you know, it's without a doubt. Excel still reigns supreme. Um, yeah, we have a net suite. We have Hyperion, you know, for you know, uh, planning and analysis types of things. Um, we have lots of other tools, but a t end of the day, uh, you know, Excel is still very much, um, relied on Google sheets to some extent, which I have to tell you, it is hard. I'm not as well versed in that. So, you know, it might not be keeping current. Um, we're we have not. We're, you know, we're too small, and the company's I've been with of leap are are too small to have started to consider. You know, some of the AI tools. Although obviously you're starting to see that I think branch out more and more. Um, you know, in more simplistic things. So that's not something of yet evaluated.

What are the job titles of people who someone in your role routinely works with, within and outside of the organization? What approaches are effective in working with them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
So obviously I work with the CEO and I want to come back and talk about that in a second. I work, you know, externally, a lot with the board. And I work with investors on other, you know, key constituents. Um, Thio Show our banks. Andi, you know, it just depends on on what their title specifically are. You know, it could be partner director, you know, managing directors, depending on on how they get into it. Uh, internally, Um, you know, look, I work with all ranges of of folks internally, I'm we're not a big enough company. And even in, um, you know, one of the bigger companies that I was with, you know, I didn't draw those lines. That just tends to be my style. Um, for me, it's important, really. Thio be able Thio work at all levels. You know, when you talk about approaches effective Thio Thio, working with them. So one of the biggest things for the CFO, um, above you know, any, you know, sort of fast, whole ability with with numbers, obviously. And you know, other concepts. There is really the ability to manage the relationships, you know, with the CEO with the other executives and, um, and with the board. And that is absolutely on a personal level. That is without a doubt, you know, Um, probably the biggest investment of time and stress is just making those relationships work. Andi, it just requires a lot of effort, a lot of listening. Um, you know, and, uh, sometimes that's hard When you when you're disagreeing with individuals, as you can imagine. So, um, really having to sort of catch myself and really listen to where the other person is coming from And make sure I understand, um, you know what's behind what they're saying is is important.

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
overall, and I don't think this is changed. One of the key tenants that I would I would describe of my leadership styles, transparency but genuine transparency. Like I'm I am known for somebody who, particularly in tougher situations, to be more transparent than most other people would be. And I hold to that, um, very strongly because I believe that, you know, the more you are aware of that my attitude is everybody at the tables and adult until they prove me otherwise. I've actually worked with, you know, CEOs to take a completely different approach and and literally there, like we can't let them know because, you know, they won't be able to handle it. I just don't do that. I've been through ah, lot of tumultuous situation, So I just have found that that serves me well, um, so in that vein, I wanna lean towards sharing mawr so people really can get on that same page and, uh, and and understand and see things what's changed dramatically. And it's really interesting. Back in early two thousands, um, I was it into it, and I was asked to step in on take over a small division that was struggling and I turned it around and part of the way I did that there was some strategic refocusing. But then there was also a big emphasis on the change with the people, and and my belief was very heavily, um, uh, invested in how you can help people to sort of, you know, rise up and achieve something better than, um perhaps they even thought possible. In my first start up, the CEO I worked for made a comment he said, which I did not appreciate. He said, You know, people are liked appreciable assets, right? Um, they've got a limited, useful life. I'm going to change that. I Aziz you you're obviously chuckling. I did not like that comment. I mean, really, it turned my stomach. Here's what he was trying to say and what I have definitely taken. Actually, another individual who's gone on to be a venture capitalist from that same startup, said um, He said, start ups go through the jungle, the dirt road and the highway, and people don't always transition from one to the other to the other real well. And in that vein, it's important to recognize when somebody might not be You know who's really good and loves the jungle on the messiness and chaos is you start to bring in the, you know, the mawr. Um, uh, operating oriented systems, you know, they don't They resist in rebellion sent. And I think in that vein, what I've definitely seen is, um, in higher growth, higher change companies. Um, people understandably before themselves don't have as long and tender because it just doesn't make sense. And your job is a leader has to be helping people thio first being able to see it yourself and then helping people to see it. And then it's not a bad thing. It doesn't mean that they're bad. It just means that for this stage, they might find something better. You know, that's back at that similar stage. Sure.

How do you manage conflicts within and across teams? How do you promote trust, openness and a healthy work culture? Sharing stories will greatly help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
I think, you know, to some extent, this goes back to some of the transparency, right? Um um, so as I mentioned a t on set, you know, we've we've taken a huge hit. Our businesses in the in the field of recruiting, right? And you could imagine as co vid hit. Um, you know, we saw just a dramatic drop in demand. Similarly, we have investors who've been with us quite a long time, So their funds, they're pretty much old and done on. We were in the process of, you know, looking to selling capital. So you've got a lot of, you know, fairly scary stuff. One thing you know, one is people know that I don't get rattled easily. Buy that stuff in part because I've been through enough of it that, um and so there is just a sense of okay, if heads okay, you know that, then I can I can lean on that a little bit, and I definitely have people to do that. Number two is they know that I'm not going to feed them an answer. Um, that is just something that they want to hear. That it really is farm or about, Um um the, uh you know, here's the reality of Of what? We're facing Onda again. It goes on the assumption if I treat you as an adult and appear your eye my experiences nine times out of 10 you're gonna react similarly. And and that's what I see, you know, conflicts it it it It depends. It depends on the people. And a big part of it is to really understand. You know how people approach things, how they how they're motivated. So, for example, classic conflict, you know, in my seat is often with the chief revenue officer ahead of sales. Right, Andi, once they have a stronger sense that I want the same thing that they dio, um, which is as much as many sales as we could possibly get. I'm able t build, you know, a better bridge in that. But it varies, you know, on three individual. And the other piece that I'll say is I'm not conflict adverts. I'm not shy. And, um, that has both pros and cons, right? Obviously, the con is that, you know, if and I've had this happen, I've had, you know, Sierra walk into my office and try to chew me out, you know? And I've responded back to him in the same way, which creates a little bit of shock. Um, but, you know, and so sometimes that that heats things, but it also builds a little bit of, like respect. And if we go there, it's it's not gonna make it better. Let's not go there if that makes sense.

How can one get better recognition of work from one's boss and higher management? What mistakes should one avoid? Stories or examples will be quite helpful.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
a couple of cheap things that I would suggest. So I had this manager early on in my career who had us read this book. The title was so corny. It was how to be a start work on. But it really was corny. But, you know, we we would read a chapter, then we discuss it. Um, one of the things that I still remember to this day and this was, you know, without a doubt a few decades ago. Um, Waas look for the white space, right? So And in this context, specifically, it meant that there's always some sort of a problem that needs solving. That nobody is is necessarily addressing. And you wanna make sure, Obviously, that problems on point with, you know, the broader priorities. Um um, but a way to stand out is really to take ownership of the white space and and really, you know, define what the issue is, um, you know, dig in and, um, you know, work on obviously trying to bring proposals Thio, you know, Thio to deal with it. Andi, I still think that that has ah lot of merit. Um, I think you know, continuously looking thio uh, you know how you can learn and grow on your own, which really, at the end of the day, yeah, you can get new opportunities that help you learn and grow. But what can you do to really show that you you don't want to just be able to do the job that you're doing now But how you're learning and even growing on your own to do the job? You know, the next few jobs? Um, I'm not sure about mistakes. I could I'm sure other things might come up. Is Aziz We talk about it? Um, one of the things I see that's really interesting. And this is just me. Personally, I'm I'm not a fan of heavy self promotion, Andi. I see a lot more of that now than I than I feel like I used Thio. Um, by the way, not with any specific sort of age category. It's just I Seymour of it. Um I like people's work and efforts to to speak for themselves. Um, it's okay, Thio Express, you know, needs and wants, but But I see people who put that well ahead of other things. And that's something that for me we'll start thio and I know some of the others that I associate with that doesn't sit well

What indicators are used to track performance in a job like yours? Think of the indicators such as key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives & key results (OKRs), or so on.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
they can range from things like the amount of time it takes to close Thio. You know, we set a goal. Obviously, it z a little bit harder, but we're always setting goals on a monthly quarterly basis for collections, you know? So how much are we getting? Our money? And so these were some of the operating ones, um, for ending cash balance. Like that's a target that I've got That from a company standpoint. Excuse me. Are ending cash balance her period, and therefore, how much we burned is a target. And I play a major role in managing that, based on not just obviously how well the team collects. Um, but how I pay out right? Which, um right now that's a very big emphasis, right? Is how I'm managing outflow or dispersement of cash. Um, uh, it could be fundraising, right? It could be. You know, were we successful, You know, in raising and raising the funds. Um, so I can Really what? I'm what I'm getting to is it can range from some very operational, you know, tactical level of things, Thio, you know, very significant. Strategic. Um, you know, forgetting for working on a deal. You know, we're driving to get it done by a certain date. That kind of like

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Yeah. E mean, there's definitely a number. So one is Is that division that I told you about? I felt really good about about that turnaround. We made tremendous strides within about a seven month period. Andi, I think that was definitely, um Ah, pretty formative experience. Um, you know, another experience that I took. And, you know, I think this goes into kind of how you read the opportunity. So So when I left into it, um and it's eso. When I actually left my startup, I went into it. But in between then I exported going to finance her out bad time to be looking right for finances and basically started my career. And I had to get realistic with, you know, what was happening in economy. There were other times that I saw that, And at one point, um, when the finance executive they wanted the seat had to have Sarbanes. Actually, that's not me, right? That's very much your internal auditor. You know, your external auditor, um, out of the blue. I was I was actually a CEO of a small company out of the blue. I got a call from the company, um that I was introduced to from the investors and here was a company. Um, that was doing well. And you know that this the CEO is very much talking about their growth and prospects of I p l ng which nobody would look at me, you know, for that type of experience. Um, and what happened was, you know, I asked him if I do this. Um, I would just like to be able to sit in the seat for wherever you do bring in the lead us through that. The reason that this job came to me is a finance executive is because they were in a lawsuit with Oracle, which is existentially right. Eso they weren't going to get the A CFO in any way. And so here. And I saw that. And here was a great opportunity for me. Thio, step into something and, um Andi, um, cut my teeth. And as it turns out, not only did I cut my teeth on doing what we did, we grew from 25 million to about 100 million. A couple 100 people toe nearly 600. We expanded in the seven countries we went through the I P o process. So I lead the team through. I built and led the team simultaneously through the I P o process. That was exciting. It was exhausting. Um, but I would do it again. It was a great, a great experience.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
responsibilities, you know, for for all intents and purposes were largely same. I did run sales there for a year in addition to my finance responsibilities. Um, but that's because that's what was needed. And I think again, depending on the kind of company you go to, having that flexibility can be very helpful. Um, the challenges for us at Leeds based were uniquely different from some of the other things that I experienced and therefore fun. So so one we we were technically an Israeli originated company, Israeli backed. Although we had, you know, some U. S investors and they're all sorts of of things that come, you know, with with that there different type of investors there, um, you know, just a different way of operating on just a different DNA, very aggressive on DSO. That was an experience. You then layer over that we had a challenging market. Nobody in our market had yet broken out of the $20 million air. Our mark, which is when you know it's sort of seen as kind of a key line of demarcation is toe when you really have sort of sufficiently proven product market fit and like and you're ready to start to scale. Nobody had done that on day. One of the things that we were looking at Waas do we merge eso We actually went through a a merger and we got pretty far down the path and and it actually blew up because the partner company that we try to merge with miss their numbers wildly on weren't willing to re negotiate. And at the same time we brought in a private equity player from the U. S. Went through a major recapitalization eso, you know, with all that kind of activity, you're doing a lot of board management, you know, navigating the different parties and, um, not different, you know, from from some of the stuff that I'm going through now, other than the specific subject is different, if that makes sense, you know?

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts in each of your college programs?

Based on experience at: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
I was a So I was a liberal arts major, um, in undergrad. And I think, you know, one of the things I do think about if I were to do it all over again, unless you're gonna, you know, go into law or medicine. Um, if you are even remotely gonna be in the business world, I think basic accounting and finance are a must in my mind. So I wish I had done that. I think I would have. It would have been a little bit more helpful in the beginning. And so going back to business school for me was all about that emphasis. Um, Andi, and making sure that I was learning, you know, the technical parts. I was about seven years out of college before I went back to business schools. That's pretty. It's definitely on the, you know, outside of the bell curve for eight in terms of, um, you know, two Sigma or something. Um s O and in school is fantastic. You know, my MBA experience was was phenomenal in so many ways. One is it was very successful. You know, I think in in teaching me Ah, lot of those concepts um, in a way that I could really concentrating on. Learn them. Um, certainly all of the people that I met and many of whom you know, I still stay in touch with and, you know, connect with and, you know, out here a lot of them are spread throughout the Bay area on DSO There's always somebody that I can I can ping Andi consult with on a specific area question topic, that kind of thing. Um, eso it was was without a doubt, I think one of the best things that I did

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
um, for me, no matter what happens, it's always important that I'm gonna be able to look myself in the mirror. Andi, um, feel like I did the right thing. And, you know, I I have absolutely been in situations where, you know, folks have tried to take a different line or maybe even unethical approach, or, you know, there's some very aggressive jockeying around, and I've done everything from, you know, successfully defended on that stuff. Thio just said, You know what? I don't wanna be a part of this. Um, and, you know, perhaps I may have, you know, had things passed me by as a result, but, um, for me, um uh, you know, I get up every morning with with a very clean conscience, and I know that I know that one of the things that people look to me for a za leader is very much that So So that is definitely one of the big ones. Um, I think another big life lesson. Look, I went to I went to penn. I went to Stanford, Right. I mean, that looks really good on paper. Um, one of the things to take away is it doesn't mean anything. In fact, I will tell you I tend to prefer not to hire ah lot from Ivy League in general. Because with it and more often than not, comes a big chip. I could tell you a story when added into it that I had somebody who was an environmental lawyer who had gone to Kellogg and was was on the team that I inherited and literally was coming to me with. I want to run a piano. I went thio, you know, get my MBA. I should be running a piano now on. But what I found is, you know, there's there's, ah, large group of people. They're hungry, They're hungry to learn. Um, I ascribe Thio. I never want to be the smartest guy in the room. I just don't believe in that concept. And, um, it'll always then then I become the weakest link, right? And so I thrive on on having uh, folks around me who know their stuff far better than I do in areas, right. I can't be an expert in all the areas, and that is that is absolutely a huge component and something that has served me well

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Yeah, it's so easy when you look back on. Do think about it. I mean, e I'm not going to take a direct, linear path to answer this question. I'm gonna give you a couple little tidbits and you'll see how they string together. Um, it is the winner of 2000 on duh. Or maybe even the very beginning of 2001. And I had just joined, um, into it. And I have been asked to speak on a panel for Stanford Business School on looking for jobs in that crazy market. This is back when you know the dot com verse for for those people who don't know eso. So everybody was in a panic and I was the really the only person, uh, there I was with, like, the dean of, you know, career placement. And folks like that, right? And and I don't know how much people know about this book called What Color Is your parachute? Basically, this find your true calling right? I find that the the younger folks today actually don't aren't familiar with that book, and everybody was talking about you really need to know what you wanna do, and that's what you need to go after. And I actually said no. I completely disagree. That works when you've got a good job today. And you know that you're feeling called to do something else. Um but But the reason I bring that up is because I you know, when I look back now on where I've gotten to, if there are a couple of things I would have done differently, obviously I didn't know I was gonna wind up in the financing. I wish my, you know, my financial skills were actually stronger. Like I wish I did a little bit of time in an investment bank or or something like that. So to the extent that you have a sense of where you want to G. O, I think there are some areas where you can really build a strong foundation. Um, like, for example, finance. You know, whether that's that's going to work, you know, in a financial program to say, like G has or going down the accounting track for a little bit or going to investment banking. If you don't know, um I found in this was for me was good. I went down the consulting route, which really opened up a lot of just, you know, my exposure. I didn't I grew up in a medical family lore arts. You know, Major, I didn't know what was out there from a business perspective that wasn't in my home growing up and so consulting opened my eyes and really sort of, you know, gave that to me. Um, the problem is, it's very general, right? It gives you great skills onder for me what I often find, and and so I still spend a lot of time learning, you know, new things. Um, it's, you know, I have this little bit of I wish I had better mastery over a couple of these areas that that, you know, I have to deal with on a regular, um, on a regular basis. So I sort of, you know, I had a professor of business school who once said, um, I don't think about where I wanna be in five years. He's like, That's ridiculous, you know? How do I know what life is gonna bring me? I just know. Do I want to keep doing what I'm doing now, or does it not feel right? Is it time for a change. I like that philosophy, but how I need I would have preferred to have mixed that a bit better with Mawr foundational stuff that I think just I would have benefited from. So that tension is a little bit differently. And I have lots of friends who probably would sit here and say, Yeah, I knew I want to do this. I love the financing county, you know, I went and did this, and they've done nothing but that route. The flip side is, I can tell you I bring a lot mawr to my role than many folks who just come from, you know, more narrow path. But I don't have that depth of expertise, so it's a trade off and you have to decide where you're most comfortable.