G1 Therapeutics CFO Barclay “Buck” Phillips set his sights on the CFO position on day one of his very first job back in high school. After he hustled home to share the great news about landing the part-time gig, Phillips’s father, a stock broker, shared some prescient advice: “Son, always make sure you’re the guy whose hand is closest to the cash register or the cash flow—that way, you’ll always have the opportunity to add the most value.” The advice struck a chord. Today, with close to three decades of capital markets, financial strategy, and business development experience in life sciences and venture capital under his belt, Phillips remains as close to the cash flow as possible. He owns responsibility for all finance operations, including treasury, as well as for investor relations, business development, and strategic transactions at the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops therapeutics to treat cancer. Phillips discusses the value that he’s contributed via innovative projects during his career, as well as the joy that he’s gained from those unique experiences.
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Guest: Barclay Phillips
Company: G1 Therapeutics
Headquarters: Research Triangle, NC
CFOTL: What comes to mind when I ask for a finance strategic moment?
I think there are probably a lot of fun ones to talk about. I’ve been involved in a lot of great financings. We’ve raised a lot of money over the years, but if I really think about it, one of the experiences that I take a lot of joy in when I think back on it probably was back at Novavax with my finance team. We were conducting a clinical trial of a vaccine in an older adult population and we were going to enroll 12,000 people in this clinical trial.
We were trying to understand how we would budget that trial and track all 12,000 people who came into the trial under the clinical trial protocol. They’d have a screening visit and then they’d have their first visit for vaccinations. Then there were periodic visits from that day forward that were scheduled.
Each of them had their own expense. I think we were in like six or seven different countries and in four different currencies. We had to figure out how to model that. I remember working with my finance team, and we created this extraordinary model that actually had each clinical site, the individual costs at each site. We tracked patients based on the randomization files coming out of the randomization algorithms. We put together a model that would track all 12,000 patients through all visits with variables. That model became the basis for how we budgeted the trial and how we accrued against that trial over a several-year period of time. I think I remember that that model was never off by more than like 2 or 3 percent on a monthly and quarterly basis from its original date.
Now, that trial cost somewhere between $120 million and $140 million. So the ability to actually track and budget that trial was extremely important to Novavax at the time. I remember being really proud of that because we did that. It was extremely informative to the company and it was a team effort. A lot of great people were involved in that. It helped us to build that model. So, you know, that’s where FP&A paid huge dividends and allowed us to understand how to manage the business and run our business. Hopefully that’s a fun story. It is for me, because I remember all the effort that went into doing that.