One of the perks of working in tech (beyond the relaxed dress code and pool tables in the lobby) is the company culture, built on the use of apps and technology to improve workflows.Shouvik Roy became CFO of mobile rewards platform Drop in August 2020. Starting a new business is a particularly challenging time, and Shouvik's top priority is guiding a remote team through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here's what Shouvik had to say about leading remote teams during COVID-19.
Meet Shouvik Roy, CFO of Drop
💵 His work:CFO der Toronto Rewards Appto reduce.
💡 Important quotes:“I am very proud of my ability to build teams. I'm really proud that I've had great success providing my teams with opportunities to improve, grow and progress, and in some cases I've led finance teams myself."
👋 Where to find it: LinkedIn
Listen to the episode here
In this episode of Spend Culture Stories, Shouvik explains how Drop's tech stack is helping to mitigate productivity losses due to COVID-19. He also detailed Drop's plans for the future and how the company takes care of its employees, and stressed why the finance team should be made up of security guards and not police officers.
"It's not a big change. Those things can be more of a challenge for long-established companies that don't typically use them," he said.
Before Drop, Shouvik developed two tools that have helped thousands of companies move financial operations from paper to screen. He was CFO of Freshbooks and then CFO of VersaPay.
According to him, “Gone are the days of having an on-premises accounting system. Everyone is moving to solutions like NetSuite, Xero and of course my alma mater, FreshBooks. Everything will be cloud-based.”
Watching the pandemic accelerate is a rarely positive experience, says Shouvik: "It will make our lives a lot easier and give us some time to really focus on more value-added things."
After a few months at Drop, Shouvik clearly sees the challenges ahead as he explains what he's spending his money on, what he's saving, and where he thinks Drop should go.
Findings from this week's conversation
COVID-19 doesn't mean you have to cut your budget. Keep taking care of your employees 🤲
Just because your physical office is empty right now doesn't mean your employees are out of a tight spot. "work-related expenses.
"We spend a lot of money on people when they're in the office, so we save a little bit of money there," Shouvik said. "But we've given some of those savings back to employees because we want to be sure they're comfortable at home." That includes paying for proper chairs, tables and rising phone bills.
Drop is also trying to get oneVirtual office while working remotelyManage remote teams better - something Shouvik appreciates. For example, he said, "We host weekly company townhalls where we introduce new people, we host company-wide virtual luncheons so you can meet all the new hires, and we host virtual networking events on Thursday nights."
While the CEO sells the vision, the CFO makes sure the numbers are right 💯
Having guided FreshBooks through its Series B round and VersaPay through its acquisitions, Shouvik has seen firsthand how the dynamic between CFO and CEO can impact when a company is looking to persuade a third party to forgo cash.
"The CFO's role is secondary to the CEO because the CEO is the visionary -- he's the one who sets the stage -- but the CFO provides credibility to the numbers and the story," Shouvik said.
Drop had a "very strong year" in 2020, meaning the company may be looking for another round of funding. Shouvik said his main goal now is to do the heavy lifting needed to raise money to free up CEO Derrick Fung's time.
“He's spread too far; he doesn't have enough bandwidth for everything," Shouvik said. "As a seasoned leader, I step in and take responsibility for what he is no longer capable of while also focusing on larger, visionary possibilities for the company."
CFOs should be financial watchdogs, not financial cops😇
Unfortunately, for all our forecasting models, we don't live in a world where companies always operate on the budget and agenda set by the CFO.
substituteBuild a consumer cultureAround strict rules, Shouvik recommends building on the understanding that there will always be surprises or emergencies that need to be dealt with. In this case it is important to be as flexible as possible.
"The role of finance is not to act as a police force, but to provide guard rails," Shouvik said. "Build a culture around best practices and work strategically instead of always thinking about the short-term financial implications."
For example, Drop recently had to hire some technicians for which it didn't have a budget. "If you look at it strictly from a financial perspective, you say, 'No, we can't afford that.' But as a financial leader, you say, 'HowCan't we afford it? If we don't, the company could be in even bigger trouble. "Sometimes you have to spend money to make money."
How finance fits into every aspect of business
[1:52] "I don't consider myself just a financial leader, I'm also a corporate leader. I think that's an advantage of experience and finance because we touch so many different areas of the business. We're not just focused on Finance is usually involved in some form of decision-making in a specific area – be it a product or a technology or even people.
Communication, not tax knowledge, makes a good financial leader
[2:31] “Being a good financial executive has nothing to do with being good at math or accounting. Rather, it's about being a good communicator and a quick learner, having excellent organizational skills and being able to quickly quantify the impact of business decisions — and having the confidence and conviction to make those decisions to support, these soft skills are more difficult than hard skills like things like finance or capital markets and taxes.”
A virtual “welcome mat” is different
[4:38] “Joining a new company is always a challenge no matter what COVID is. You meet new people, you learn how things work, different deals or partnerships that were signed before you. In the first 90 days you have time to be like a sponge to get a good feel for the business and how it works. During COVID it will be enlarged. You don't have these normal resources around you. In normal times, you just turn your chair and ask someone else a question, meet someone in the dining room, or have a cup of coffee with someone. Everything is planned out now, so it's difficult to have an organic conversation: it's certainly a challenge.”
How COVID-19 accelerates fintech
[24:28] “The financial industry is already on the way to automation. What we're doing with VersaPay in the area of accounts receivable automation is we're taking the old paper billing process away from people: filling out envelopes, billing customers, and customers send an invoice, and then write a check. This check was lost in the mail! The whole process was such a daunting task, but when COVID hit, suddenly every company's accounts receivable team was at home and their accounts payable team is all at home too. How do you get "paid"? How do I send an invoice? These issues are forcing organizations to accelerate automation. "
Professional, no regrets, just gratitude
[35:58] "I have no regrets. ...I would like to spend some time abroad at the beginning of my career - working internationally would be a great experience. Even more so later in life. Difficult to do...these are very small things.” I'm very happy with the choices I've made in my career and how things have turned out. I was lucky and don't want to come across as ungrateful.
our favorite quotes
[11:03] "Perhaps because Drop is an app for consumers who want to save money, I think employees appreciate the value of a dollar, too. Employees have a sense of pride and belonging to the company, so waste here is a dollar wasted dollar for them personally.
[15:06] "Whether it's an acquisition or a financing, the key is credibility. When introducing a company, you should ask yourself: "Is this story believable?"
[33:44] “At Drop and most startups, cash is king. You want to make sure you have enough to get you through tough times and keep track of your cash usage.”
[37:27] "I feel like everything happens for a reason, even when you think things aren't going the way you want them to. I applied for some jobs that I never got and I was like, 'Oh man, really, this sucks. Gosh, life is over.” But it worked. I'm with Drop now so it couldn't be better. "
This interview is fromPublish a culture storyPodcast.
That's not all, folks
If you are interested in more stories from other visionary leaders, rejoice herepublishing cultureThe episode:
- Ryan Lazanis Fan Future Company:Visionary accountants in the new normal
- Suzanne Shiflet van Gym-Start:Management of a remote finance team
- Nilly Essays von The Hackett Group:Measuring the impact of digital transformation in the financial world
For more remote work tips for accounting teams and finance leaders, see:
- Digital tools for finance and operations teams
- Our guide to remote work
- How Procurify and Tipalti automate Procurify-to-Pay
- How CFOs are adapting to COVID-19 and what the CFOs of tomorrow will be like
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