Thinking back to his days as a charter boat captain off the coast of Point Loma, San Diego, Dan Stokely marvels at the responsibilities that he shouldered as a young adult.
Serving a mix of customers, Stokely would routinely welcome on board groups of small business owners, executives, and doctors before setting off to sea on 3- to 15-day jaunts.
“Whether it was dealing with people experiencing some kind of medical emergency at sea, or really rough weather, or mechanical failures—you just had to be on top of your game all the time,” recalls Stokely, who says that the experience forever shaped his mind-set when it comes to taking on challenges.Read More
Initially, Stokely had set his sights on acquiring equity in a boat, but conversations with different customers piqued his interest in business and led him to begin a college career alongside his sea captain vocation.
Upon graduation, Stokely feared that the lack of an accounting internship on his oceangoing resume might lessen the odds of him landing a job with a big-name accounting house.
However, Stokely says, the partner in charge of Deloitte’s San Diego office at the time hired him after summing up the college grad’s seafaring days this way: “You had to make quick decisions, and very often with not a lot of information. And you had to live with the outcome.”
Another factor that no doubt contributed to Stokely quickly finding his groove in the accounting and finance realm was that he was accustomed to having gray-haired customers turning to him for answers, a qualification that few hiring officers would likely miss.
Such conditioning perhaps served him well at Sithe Energies, where he was hired as a financial analyst inside one of the firm’s divisions but within weeks found himself working alongside the company’s CFO as they mapped out an aggressive acquisition strategy involving the medical waste industry. This led to Stokely crisscrossing the country to meet and consult with the owners of different medical waste firms being targeted.
Says Stokely: “This might have scared a lot of people. But with my fishing background and having taken some risks before, I knew how to manage it.” As it turned out, the company would acquire nearly 12 new firms over a 3-year period and reformulate its division known as Recovery Corp. of America. –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: What will your priorities as a finance leader be over the next 12 months?
Stokely: The number one priority that I can affect—because I can’t affect the FDA—is really keeping the company properly capitalized in an effective and efficient manner that’s the least dilutive to our shareholders as possible. What does all this mean? I’ve been entrusted as a CFO here with shareholders. We have 180 million shares outstanding and thousands of shareholders, and some have a lot of money invested in this company. I take this very seriously. I can’t affect the stock price except for making sure, as a leader of the company, that from a financial standpoint we execute on what we can execute on.Read More
We need to be diligent stewards of the company’s cash, whether we’re using it on a clinical trial or something else, to generate outcomes that we believe are going to be favorable and drive shareholder value. There’s a balance in between that we’re able to maintain with an ATM in the form of a $50 million line of credit.
Based on a formula that we project every month here, I always try to keep 8 to 10 months of cash on hand—and no more, because this would be dilutive and detrimental to the shareholders. At the same time, I don’t want to be in a position where if something goes south for a few months, I have to raise cash at half the value. So, there’s a balance there, and it’s something that I take very seriously.
Where I think we need to get over the finish line is with our BLA file on the OAK trial, pending the outcome at the FDA, which we don’t know. Hopefully, they’re allowing us to proceed and file it, or it might be something in between like a smaller trial, or they may ask us to redo the trial.
We can’t control this. All we can do is deal with the response once we get it. We’re also engaged in two hopefully soon-to-be-large COVID trials. Our drug has shown promise in helping patients who may need to be going on oxygen from COVID because it reduces inflammation, so we have an inhale trial going on right now where we can take our drug and put it through a nebulizer, and there’s also an IV trial. We’re going to hit our Phase 2 on the IV trial, and we’re in the middle of Phase 1 on the inhale.
Value Quote: “The number one priority that I can affect—because I can’t affect the FDA—is really keeping the company properly capitalized in an effective and efficient manner that’s the least dilutive to our shareholders as possible.” jb
Ampio Pharmaceuticals | www.ampiopharma.com | Englewood, CO