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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: Ray Langhaim on Wed Jul 29 2020
Yeah. Hi. My name is Ray Langham. I'm the CFO of In Contact. We are a cloud based provider of technology for call centers. Becoming a CFO, took many, many years are pretty long path. About 20 years to get to the CFO seat. My career started in accounting for Ernst and Young in the tax side of the practice. Then did various jobs at different companies where I was a tax guy. I was an accounting guy. I did FPA, and treasury work. Overall trying to get a well rounded breath of understating around finance and then I was able to take the step to be a CFO. That's basically my story in a nutshell.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
so I don't have a set work responsibilities or a schedule being a CFO. You sort of are in a lot of different things every day in every week that are totally different than the last week paid upon what goes on. I mean, there is the basis of the financial forecasting and budgeting process, trying to understand how to make your business run better. But we are sort of that right hand man to the CEO, and he pulls us in different situations that happen all the time. Also, there's always emergency. There's always fire drills, always problems out there, and we're, you know, part of that help to to get that done. My my working hours are are varied, you know, Obviously, if I'm on vacation, it's very low. Actually, I still work when I'm on vacation. Maybe it's only an hour or two where I'm just doing some email, catching up on things, keeping things moving. Um, I never have 100%. I'm away from the office. It's it's it. I guess you could look at it as good or bad, but it's great that we have technology allows me to keep in contact, no matter where I am in the world and that Ah, when I come back, I'm not stuck with 1000 emails trying to get buried out of where I am. So I would say, on average, probably my work week is 50 to 60 hours.

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

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Jul 29 2020
you know what's great with my role is that I don't use any systems, you know? Sort of like the oracles, the essay peas. Ah, you know Ah, you know, people. People on my teams use those systems. Ah, lot. We also use systems like adaptive, which is our financial planning tools. Ah, various building tools, all kinds of business objects. You Ah ah, you know what they call him be I business intelligence tools, but but it's so I am not I don't have to worry about that. I have used them a lot in the past, but now I don't. The favorite tool for finance, though, is excel. Ah, For people coming up in the in the career path, you have to be an excel guru. We we rely upon that we actually test people as they come in for job interviews within our finance side just to make sure that they have ah, very high level of proficiency with excel

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
eso challenges and jobs like mine. So, um, I think there's But there's all kinds of problems. Maybe I can, ah give you 11 example. So we're trying to understand our customer base more trying to understand renewal rates. Figuring out, you know, are we able to charge more charge less in order to gain MAWR customer retention and more customers from a new perspective as well? So we have to go off and get a bunch of data and, you know, the systems and things will utilize. Bring it into excel, manipulate some of that stuff in excel. But then it's about what does the data not tell you? What is the basis of that data? Um, there's a lot of questions when people present things to you that if you just sort of go down that path that they're leading you, you will reach the same conclusion. You have to figure out what questions to ask that may make them think about the question differently or go a little bit of different angle and find out what is not included in the analysis they give you. Um, so by doing that, we've we've done a lot with the segregation of our customers. So not all customers of the same big customers versus small customers. They work differently, and so that's been a big help for us is to dive deeper into our customer base is understandable.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
Oh, I work with with everybody. Obviously, there's other vice president, senior vice presidents that I work with. I also work with, Um, I'm a person that's very open. Ah, door policy. So I work with even the staff analyst, staff accountants, ah, staff credit collection, people trying to understand the issues that air there and how we're doing things and how we can get better. Ah, so there's no There's no group that ah is left undone. But I would say that most of my time is spent with other the executive committee. I'm in my group, and by doing that, you know, I need to spend time with them, um, understanding who they are as a person, how it is best to communicate with them. Um, and so sometimes it's even just going out to lunch with them and just have it a conversations about our family and about non work stuff that that helps get that understanding with them.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
eso I'm a very much of an A type personality or red and on the spectrum. And I've done those personality tests many, many times. Ah, and so that kind of person is just like I want to get things done. I'm just Go on, Go on, Go on, go on. I'm highly motivated to get things done and so just sort of like get out of my way or, you know, potentially I'll run you over. Ah, And so I realize that that is not the right style, Especially as a manager, you have to work with people, understand who they are. Everyone is different and they're not like me. And so I need to understand that and do and communicate to their style. So I have definitely changed. But if under stress Ah, you know, I sort of go back to my my, um, old habits a little bit, but I try to make sure that I'm evenly rounded and then I'm able to influence people, Um, in the correct way, they like to be talked to again. One of my guiding principles to is, I never want to treat anybody different than I want to be treated myself. So you have to be respectful of people and make sure that they're doing that. Um, you know the one. The great examples is a book called Good To Great, and it talks about how to run a great business meeting, one that will last forever. And I have been involved in companies that do the opposite of good to great. But again, it talks about the employees should be my number one priority. And if I make the employees my number one priority, they will then please customers. And then if I make customers the number one priority, then they will return shareholder value. They will stay with us. They'll buy more. Ah, and so that's the right order to think about it, versus I just got to go and crank out more operating income and take out costs. Maybe hurts customers or employees. So it's one of the one of the older books, but it's ah, it's a great basis that a lot of people refer to

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
uh, I think that Ah, obviously we're in a time frame of understanding individuals, diversity, understanding what people, Their background. You know, whether the person is from a different country than myself. They have different experiences. Um, I think we just have to be mindful of Think about that as we as we talk with people. Um, back in the day when I first started, if I had a conflict with somebody, you know, I would Ah, I would just ignore them if I didn't. I didn't agree with them or I would just do whatever I wanted. Um, and and now, though, the thing is, I need big Sure, people are on board. People are bought into the process. Understand the reasons why Maybe they're not. But in because you never know, Maybe their answer could be the best answer possible. That's out there. So it's ah, it's the asking questions is a constant thing that has to happen. And I think by asking questions will promote that openness and trust and the healthy work culture as you respect people's opinion.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
Yeah, I think the thing that have to understand is everyone's gonna make mistakes. I've made a lot of mistakes. Ah, in my career, Tuas Well, and so the thing is, is to own up to them back in the day, I would sort of hide my mistakes. I would not want people to see my mistakes, because that man I didn't do, you know, 100% good job. And so sometimes I could do that. And it happened in no problem. But sometimes if you I had a mistake, it potentially gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then escalates and escalates. And finally, then it's to an explosion point that has some material problems. Uh, and so I've learned that if you do have potential mistakes that are happening even if they're small, you might as well tell people now because maybe they can help you avoid as but that they don't escalate higher and higher and higher toe. Where then there's a material aspect of your business that's not not correct, so own up to it. Talk to people even when they're small. It's OK. You learn from them, you communicate that you're learning from them and people can see that now if you costed or make a mistake. Mistake, mistake, mistake. Then you're you know there's other problems, but you know, you need to learn. You take ownership of it. It's okay. We all understand. We've all been there and we all done it.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
Oh, the tractor performance. Ah, in a job like mine. So my my performances how the businesses ran as a CFO. My biggest thing is can I predict the future of my business? So I have to have KP eyes that understand that, and I'm not going to show you them. They're right here on the other side of this piece of paper. But every K p I that I have is on this piece of paper. It's one piece of paper that has everything that I need 95% of the time. You know, it has obviously things that deal with revenue. Things deals with expenses, things that deal with our bookings. Things that deal with our pipeline to get bookings are headcount. Ah, and it's on a trended basis over, you know, quarters and stuff. So that's Ah, every business going a little bit different. But you have to know what they are, and it's not, you know, it's not a whole book full. It's one piece of paper

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Jul 29 2020
uh, depends upon the position that we're hiring for a lot of times. Ryan, for some senior finance people, even staffs, as's finance people. And I think what I'm looking for is enthusiasm. Ah, the person that has great enthusiasm, willing to work hard, willing to learn in that capacity. To learn, I think, is the most thing you notice. I'm not talking about any technical aspects of their job. I guess there's already a some assumption that the person already knows some technical aspects. And we talked about knowing Excel really well. Tuas Well within the within the finance area, Um, and so it's it's more about Is the person going to be a happy person that I could have fun with and enjoy working with, You know, 8 10 hours a day. Ah, and that's more important because we could teach him, although some of the skills and stuff. But they gotta have that desire and that ability to learn

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
so accomplishments that I feel good about. You know, the best thing I feel great about is I have people that I have managed that went on and became CFOs. I have people that come back and wanna work within the new company that I'm in, and so I've rehired them into into the new company. I think the people development peace is probably the best thing that I have done. Yes, I have taken close processes and move them from 20 inconsistent days to five consistent dates, you know, for a $1,000,000,000 organization. But those are those are great things to Dio. I've gone in and save the company tons of money and different ah different areas and functional groups based upon trying to find more efficiencies. But it's about the people about developing them and ensuring that their careers are on track for what they want to get done.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
responsibilities and decisions. Do I handle a work? So, you know, as a CFO, I I get to handle a lot, a lot of decisions. Ah, and and my responsibility has no bounds. So, you know, how do we, you know, do we hire more people in R and D? Um, do we Do we think that the the organization and r and D is is efficient enough? Or do we think that they're efficient up? But I need 20 more people to do this project, or can we get those that project done with the existing people? Um and so that is an example that it's like, you know. So what is a finance guy know about the efficiency of an R and d you know, software engineers I knows very little. And I have to then go and rely upon my, you know, VP of R and D to help me understand that. And I after then ask a bunch of questions and and bring him along the journey and and let him realize that I'm not trying toe, you know, crank for people to work harder. I just want to make sure we're utilizing the money more effectively Because if I don't use the money over there, maybe I can use it over and marketing to get more cells to get more pipeline, to get more cells. Um, and then likewise. And marketing. Maybe I could figure out how we could be more efficient and maybe close rates get hired by doing different programs and working with them to work. But maybe more money in my R and D group. So I'm constantly trying to understand the pluses and minuses of our investments, every dollar we put it in the business.

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: BS, Accounting, California State University-Fresno
Summarized By: Ray Langhaim on Wed Jul 29 2020
So I think it prepares you for your first job and for your, you know, being a staff finance person, whatever that may be. And then after that, it's about what you do with it. It's about how you network with people. It's about how you communicate with people. It's about how you are dedicated to your to your position, dedicated to learning more. Ah, you know what? You know. I don't really use anything today. Well, that's not true. I use some things that I learned in school. I mean, there's also obviously the basic accounting principles. There's finance models and stuff, you know, NPV, all kind of stuff that you learned. We still do those those calculations and stuff today. Ah, but yeah, I don't go back to my textbook to look and figure out what the answer the problems I have today. But it gets you that first job and then it gets you your ability. One of the good things, though, about college, is the social aspect and how to get along with people. Write me. There's all kinds of people out there in the world today and you got to get along with all of them. And so that's Ah, that's a great thing. I'm from Fresno State. California is where I graduated from. Great school, Great opportunity out there. I put a plug in for him.

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
eso life lessons that I've learned over my career. Um, so, like, uh, I was talking about before is is that trying to understand people and to ask questions? Um, I'm trying to think of an exact situation that happened, but I'm not recalling really quickly, but often times, some will give me their opinion and I will. And I I disagree with their opinion. I don't I don't think the same way, whether it's an opinion on a number Ah ah, you know, some type of business. KP I whatever it has, you know, I don't Maybe we don't see I die. And so what I realized that I got to do is ask questions. A lot of times, maybe they're defining things different than I am. Um, and so you know, if I do get to the same definition that they do Ah, and some of those underlying facts, maybe we do agree. And it's just trying just trying to get to those underlying facts. And that's probably the biggest lesson I've learned is to ask questions, not just throw. Ah, I don't agree with you. You're wrong. But just to understand, there

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 Wed Jul 29 2020
to become a CFO. There's different routes. You can go. There is not 11 route that says this is the only way. Ugo, I could just tell you that for my my route worked great for me. And that was to become a C p a and ah ah and then to be ableto work inside of it, an accounting firm and then come over to work inside of, ah, corporate organization. I only worked inside of an accounting firm for probably like 3.5 years. Ah, And then I started working for the industry. And then I just looked to get opportunities that would come up, I would accept. And even though maybe it wasn't really the right, it wasn't like I was being promoted. But it was learning different skills along the way, sort of more of going more horizontal versus vertical. And so I would say, Take those opportunities that come to you even if they're horizontal, because eventually then you'll be able to go vertical after you have a abroad. Ah, breath of information and knowledge to do so. Don't ever say no to an opportunity