Years from now, when Will Costolnick thinks back to the start of his CFO career, he will likely count the 12 months that preceded his appointment as CFO of Hire Dynamics as part of the same chapter, for—not unlike many of his CFO peers—Costolnick first found his footing at his new employer by slipping into a vice president of finance role for a year or two.
In Costolnick’s case, the interim role lasted 12 months, or just long enough for Hire Dynamics to reformulate its management ranks and expand its C-suite.
Still, Costolnick hit the ground running by using his interim credentials to begin putting in place processes that would accommodate new growth, which was indeed a priority for satiating the staffing firm’s newfound appetite for acquisitions.
Four years ago, Hire Dynamics had but 10 offices in the Southeast; today, this number is 47. The growing office numbers follow a recent spurt of deal-making by Hire Dynamics, which today boasts of being the Southeast’s second largest commercial staffing firm. Clearly, the timing of Costolnick’s arrival was no accident. Moreover, the firm’s newly charged CFO had spent four of his previous six years evaluating acquisition targets for LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
“We looked at 40 acquisitions during that period and closed on eight,” explains Costolnick, who served as lead finance analyst for the company’s internal mergers and acquisitions group.
“I think that this was really a pivotal moment for me. I would be sitting in a room with the leaders from product development, marketing, and sales, and I got to observe them as they looked at these targets strategically,” says Costolnick, who later served as director of finance for the Atlanta-based firm.
While acquisition targets are no doubt part of Costolnick’s world these days, so too are the processes and technologies that in the future will permit Hire Dynamics to satisfy the demands of an organization many times its present size. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Will Costolnick
Company: Hire Dynamics
Headquarters: Atlanta, GA
CFOTL: You join Hire Dynamics as a vice president of finance and in short order you enter the CFO office. This is not an unusual approach, but can you retrace your initial steps for us, please?
Costolnick: My first role after walking in the door was to take this team that was kind of disconnected and working in their own silos and bring them together. We created a true FP&A team that hadn’t existed before, and we created a dedicated payroll team and a collections team. All of these teams at first hadn’t existed. You had people wearing multiple hats, but no one specializing in anything. This was my first task: To just simply look at roles and responsibilities and build out these core teams that could scale with the business.
Within the first year, we had rolled out about four robots to help to automate the highly transactional processes—the repetitive day-to-day stuff—so that we could take them off the finance team’s work list in order to put more value-add time back into their day. We rolled out robotics. We implemented dashboards and got rid of manual reporting altogether. We said, “Look, if we’re going to scale this business, we need to use technology.” Dashboards were going to give us reporting efficiency, so we put some dynamic dashboards in place that have now grown over the past 18 months to incorporate a number of additional features.
Predictive analytics was something that I had gotten a taste of while at LexisNexis, and I really saw the value that it brings to business decision-making. We went and looked at some applications that would allow us to put predictive analytics into the back office. When you think about our organization, you see that we’ve got 50 branches, so we have all of these P&Ls out there. When the budgeting process takes place, you’ve got a large spreadsheet with hundreds of tabs in it—innately, that’s prone to error. There are going to be connections that are broken; you update data in one place and it doesn’t flow through to all of the other places.
Our thought was, “We’ve got to put something in place that makes this a consistent platform for all of us to use but that also allows us to scale it.” We have drivers now built into it. When we start our budgeting season or when we’re forecasting, these drivers will preset our budget for the next 12 months or the next 18 months, whatever timeline we set. Now you’ve got a framework. Now we can go to a branch and start talking through their business: “What’s changed? What clients are we bringing on? Where are we investing?”