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When Ted Myles is asked to reflect back on his early efforts to land a CFO role, he arguably sounds a little bit like a safecracker. “Breaking into the C-suite that first time is always hard,” he explains. “I went in and would continue to get beat out by a sitting CFO. Understandably: A board or a CEO is always going to look for someone who’s already proven in the seat.”
Having successfully decoded the C-suite’s entry formula not once but four times to date, Myles fills the CFO seat at AMAG Pharmaceuticals as a seasoned CFO who is routinely raising the bar for himself as well as AMAG’s finance team.
This past January–six days into the new year–AMAG preannounced its 2019 earnings at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, an energetic gathering where the biopharmaceutical crowd traditionally kicks off the new year with some blatant chest-beating.
“Our accounting team had about six total calendar days to provide us with a tight fix on what the accounting numbers were,” recalls Myles.
“Fast-forward six weeks, after we had gone through an audit, and the numbers were pretty much exactly what we had announced six weeks earlier,” explains AMAG’s finance leader, while exhibiting a little extra pride in the biotech firm’s fast and accurate close capabilities. At AMAG, apparently, the ease with which numbers are accessed is as worthy of note as the numbers themselves. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Ted Myles
Company: AMAG Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMAG)
Headquarters: Waltham, MA
CFOTL: Tell us about how you’ve structured your FP&A team …
Myles: At AMAG, the FP&A partners actually sit in their areas with their people. So the head of FP&A sits in the finance area, physically. His three people are co-located in their respective functions. For example, the FP&A executive that I mentioned who works with clinical development sits in the clinical development group.
She should be having lunches and working and sitting through meetings with her clinical development “customers” or partners, so that she is involved in the day-to-day.
So you’ve got 10 people in a room thinking through a clinical development plan or getting an update on a program. Ten of them are thinking about the clinical development components of that meeting. And there’s one there with a very strong financial conscience, thinking, “We didn’t get as many sites up as we thought. A lot more patients per site … what are the budget implications of that?” And so they’re sitting in on the meetings and helping to provide the thought partnership on a day-to day-basis.
And then, on a more formal setting, what happens is that on a quarterly basis, we’ll do a quarterly business review. The FP&A partners will help each of their functions prepare for that and present to the executive team on how things are going, not only on the function, but also on each major program or project. If we’re 50% under spend, but we’ve only enrolled a quarter of the patients that we thought we’d enroll, then we’re really over budget, even though we spent less. We’ve spent less but made a lot less progress; we’re actually over budget. So that type of thought partnership throughout, on a day-to-day basis and more formally, really helps across the board.