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Career Story: Chief Financial Officer Of A Phone Equipment Company

Chief Financial Officer Of A Phone Equipment Company

Job Title: CFO

Type of Company: My company is a privately held, venture-backed company that designs and sells wireless test equipment to the cellular industry.

Education: BS, Finance, Bentley University •• MS, Accountancy, Bentley University

Previous Experience: Preceding this job, I had thirteen years of experience as a chief financial officer or controller in venture-capital backed start-ups.

Job Tasks: I'm in charge of the financial and administrative functions in my company. I'm responsible for putting together the financial statements of the company. This requires a strong background in accounting theory and practice. I'm responsible for reporting the financial performance of the company to both the investors of the company and the bank that lent us money. Beyond putting together numbers, I'm responsible for setting the financial direction of the company and establishing goals for sales, marketing, engineering and manufacturing. I run the budgeting process, which involves all functions in the company. I negotiate the borrowing terms with our bank. I'm responsible for many compliance needs (annual financial audit, annual bank audit, annual tax reporting, 401k discrimination testing, etc). I give presentations at each board of director and company meeting regarding the financial performance of the company. I'm the "voice of reason" and "conscience of the company" at the executive staff team level. I'm responsible for all HR functions (negotiating annual employee insurance renewals, establishing company compensation policies, hiring/firing, etc). I'm responsible for the IT function (company network, phones, data, etc) and I'm responsible for facility issues (interact with the landlord, negotiate facility lease, etc).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are overseeing every other function in the company and helping put the whole picture together for the executive team. I'm the first in the know about how the company is doing financially.

The worst part is dealing with vendors and employees when cash flow tightens. Being the bad guy and an advocate of lay-offs when the financial results aren't measuring up is very unpleasant.

Job Tips:
1. If you're going to eventually be a chief financial officer of a company, it would be best if you could begin your career in public accounting and earn your CPA. It would be preferable to earn your CPA at a Big Four accounting firm that does most of the audit work for publicly-traded companies. The exposure you would get from that would be very marketable.

2. You have to be willing to confront, not avoid, conflict.

3. You have to be a good negotiator. This comes up again and again.

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