551: Capitalizing on Efficiencies to Unlock New Value | Chris Sands, CFO, MineralTree

Listen to the Episode Below (00:36:30)

When Chris Sands accepted an investor relations position at a midsize health care firm, he did so with the understanding that he would be permitted to occasionally sink his teeth into some of the firm’s growing FP&A challenges. Having a resume rich with investment banking experience, Sands was now determined to add some FP&A, a tour of duty that he viewed as a necessary prerequisite if he were going to advance down the CFO path.

Unbeknownst to Sands, his FP&A plate would shortly be overflowing following the acquisition of his new employer by Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, Massachusetts. In the aftermath, Sands was enlisted to help lead the science giant’s planning function, which allowed him to dine regularly on high-calorie planning and begin to consider his next opportunity.

Sands would open what he views as the third chapter of his career at MineralTree, after having been recruited by CEO Micah Remley, with whom Sands had worked earlier in his career.

“Anytime a company is looking to hire a CFO, they inevitably ask for CFO experience as if people are born with it, so, for me, getting that experience became really important,” observes Sands, who describes his decision to join MineralTree as a “no-brainer.”

Looking back, Sands says that he would advise up-and-coming finance executives to actively seek out leadership mentors and not hesitate when it comes to expressing aspirations to become a CFO. Says Sands: “People aren’t mind readers, but if they are a true mentor and know what your aspirations are, they will seek to enable you on your journey.” –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Chris Sands:

Company: MineralTree

Headquarters: Cambridge MA

Connect: www.mineraltree.com

CFOTL: Tell us about a finance strategic moment of insight?

Sands: One finance strategic moment that immediately comes to mind actually occurred at the first job I took after I left JP Morgan. I had transitioned from Wall Street into industry and was running investor relations for a company called EnerNOC, which was a business that had evolved over time–but its reporting had not. I could tell from my seat in investor relations that investors were having a hard time understanding the performance of the business because the reporting hadn’t caught up. I actually had the opportunity–which is a credit to my boss because he empowered me to do it–to lead an initiative inside the business to redesign the reporting and actually create segment reporting. This was hugely important from an IR perspective, but I would make the argument that it was even more important internally because we hadn’t been looking at the business internally in that way. The old adage is that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

That was such an important point in my career not only because it showed me the impact that you could have on a business from the finance seat, but also because when I had thought about my career evolving when I left JP Morgan and Wall Street to go into industry, I knew that I wanted to get into these skillsets. I knew that I had a great background in having come from investment banking and equity research, but I didn’t necessarily have the confidence to know that I could run finance functions in a company. That particular project was one of the most confidence-inspiring moments in my career because it said, Hey, you can have an impact and you can do this. Just the way in which this benefited the organization and in which the company started thinking about the business and what ultimately transpired after that was fantastic.