When Maria Manrique stepped into her first role as a CFO, she did so knowing that her finance leader mentor was still in the building—in fact, he was occupying the CEO office.
“It would be unfair of me to not say that this was critical—being able to step into the role and have someone there who could help me to bridge the gaps,” recalls Manrique, who prior to entering the CFO office at the start-up had served as vice president of FP&A.
Manrique had already occupied similar senior planning roles at multiple companies, having previously worked for Fidelity Investments, where she had lent her FP&A acumen to the financial services firm’s portfolio of venture-backed companies.Read More
Still, at the start-up, she found herself along the front lines at the company’s board meetings—an opportunity that she had seldom been afforded at Fidelity. But along with her increased visibility came responsibility, she points out.
“I had been supporting venture capital–backed companies for a long time with strategic planning, but I had never had to make the hard decisions,” comments Manrique, who says that more challenging decisions concerning the company’s ultimate valuation and with which investors to partner suddenly became front-and-center.
Fast-forward to 2021, and Manrique is today CFO of O’Reilly Media, a 43-year-old midsize firm where as finance leader she has sought to open doors for her finance team members by exposing each member to the broader planning process and allowing them to acquire a deeper understanding of the firm’s strategy.
Notes Manrique: “I have a really hard time telling you who on my team is accounting only or controllership only or FP&A only. Everyone has a chain of activity that goes from the general ledger to our monthly operating report to our board report.”
It’s an approach to talent development, Manrique says, that is helping O’Reilly to retain talent in an highly competitive market.
“This is about giving people meaningful roles that impact the organization,” comments Manrique, who at O’Reilly also wears the hat of Chief People Officer. –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about O’Reilly Media. What does it do and what are its offerings today?
Manrique: O’Reilly Media provides technology training and content to both individual consumers and enterprises. Our enterprise product is loved by large corporations, midsize companies, and small businesses, and individual consumers buy our subscriptions as well. Sixty of the Fortune 100 companies are our customers. They have their entire technical teams or part of their technical teams learning on our platform. We offer training on all programming languages. We offer the opportunity to review content and take training classes and courses in a live format online.Read More
Our company has a 43-year history of being a best-in-class technology content producer. We started as a publishing company, and what’s special—very special—about the company and what drew me to it was what seems to have been its capacity to innovate during its 43-year history. The firm has only a very short history since having become a SaaS company. We now have all of our content online and a best-in-class delivery channel—our platform—which provides a best-in-class user experience for our customers.
We have well-defined strategic priorities for the next year, for the next 3 years. Top-of-mind is continuing to scale our very successful training platform business by continuing to maintain best-in-class SaaS metrics and continuing to create sustainable careers for the people who have helped us to build the platform. We are talent-centric. Talent is a priority for us. I don’t mean just talent acquisition to help us to drive and execute on our strategy road map, but also talent retention and creating interesting work for the team that is here. I would say that my priorities are financial and talent focus, and I would say that top-of-mind is also managing through this new normal, in which we’re almost 100% remote. We’ve always been a largely distributed company, but we are now almost all remote to each other. Helping folks to maintain productivity and do their best work in these conditions is also a priority.
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