532: How the CFO Office Cured an Operations Itch | Erik Ostrowski, CFO, AVROBIO

Listen to the Episode Below (00:43:18)

“A CFO role was something that I had not yet really envisioned for myself,” explains CFO Erik Ostrowski when asked about the investment banking chapter of his early finance career. Still, Ostrowski says that he always found the challenges facing smaller or high-growth firms more interesting than those encountered by large enterprises.

“I had a choice as to whether I wanted to work for a larger bank that worked with larger, established companies or for a boutique working with smaller firms, and I found that I was pulled to emerging-growth companies,” he explains.

Today, as CFO of biotech company AVROBIO, Ostrowski says that he likes to remind himself that while there are many aspects of business that can be controlled, many cannot be. In terms of which variables are beyond a CFO’s grasp, Ostrowski lists the economy, followed by the performance of capital markets. As far as what CFOs can control goes, AVROBIO’s CFO makes it clear that a highly engaged CFO is often the determining factor when it comes to achieving effective investor relations.

Says Ostrowski: “Make certain that you are presenting the company’s business proposition in a clear and concise way. And be ready to answer anticipated investor questions effectively.”  –Jack Sweeney jb


Guest: Erik Ostrowski

Company: AVROBIO

Headquarters: Cambridge, MA 

Connect: www.avrobio.com

CFOTL: Tell us a little about the business mind-set at AVROBIO …

Ostrowski: There are many things in business that you can control and many that you can’t. In terms of variables that you can’t control, a good example might be how the economy is doing or how the capital markets are performing. What you can indeed help to control would be, for example, things on the IR side: making sure that you’re presenting the company’s business proposition in a clear and concise way and being ready to answer anticipated investor questions. Another thing is having the team of bankers and lawyers that helps you with the fund-raising process be ready. These are things that you can control. By having these pieces in place, when business developments and capital market conditions align, you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunity and, in this example, to conduct a successful fund-raise.

So, it was nice to see that play out recently at AVROBIO. Just a few weeks ago, we were able to raise $138 million for the company on the heels of positive interim data from our Fabry gene therapy program. I think that it was proper preparation along with favorable market conditions that helped to make that capital raise a great success for us. Over the next 12 months, my priority is to continue to help effectively manage the growth of the company as we continue to progress our activities not only in Fabry disease, which is our lead program, but also in developing treatments for patients with Gaucher cystinosis and Pompe disease, as we look to build out what we think is really one of the leading pipelines in gene therapy. jb