“Be patient. It was in my nature to come into a company and try to make an impact as quickly as possible. Having worked with many companies, I have realized that it takes time to learn a company and its culture and that this is a component critical to making the right decisions.” –Michael Rosen, CFO, Power Digital Marketing
Michael Rosen’s finance career began inside the loan department of middle market lender Union Bank (now MUFG Union), when—after completing an 18-month training program—the 23-year-old was provided with a stack of business cards bearing the title “Loan Officer.”
“At the time, being a loan officer meant a great many things. You would be responsible for most of your clients’ needs, as well as bringing in new business for the bank,” remembers Rosen, who today credits the program’s scope with allowing him to quickly find his footing inside the bank’s apparel sector—a realm made up largely of midsize businesses ranging in size from $15 million to $100 million.Read More
“It was a significant program that provided some broad-based training in things like financial analysis, collateral analysis, and financial accounting, as well as the legal and ethical issues that come up when running a bank,” continues Rosen, who adds that for the next 7 years he responded to the unique needs and growing pains of his midsize customers.
Next, Rosen joined CIT Group, which at the time was aggressively expanding its factoring offerings. The financial services firm was known for not only taking over its clients’ accounts receivable but also signing outsourcing agreements for the customers’ credit collections and bookkeeping functions.
“Once we were doing all of these things, it became a lot easier for us to make loans against the collateral because we were the custodian of all of the funds. We didn’t have to rely on companies collecting the money and then sending it—instead, it came right to us,” he recalls.
The experience of serving customers at CIT Group opened Rosen’s eyes to managing risk and the critical thinking that’s often required when advising businesses “where things aren’t going well.”
It was through just such a business that Rosen accidentally discovered a door of entry to corporate finance leadership.
“We kept telling the owner that the business really needed to have a CFO, and the next thing I knew, I was offered the job,” explains Rosen, who accepted the position. Looking back, Rosen says that at the time he probably did not have all of the technical accounting knowledge that a CFO might be expected to command. Even so, he knew how to stabilize the business, and that’s arguably what mattered most. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Power Digital Marketing. What does it do and what are its offerings today?
Rosen: Well, I’ve been with the company for just under a year. I’m 35 years into my career, and I think that this is the most exciting assignment that I’ve had. Power Digital Marketing is a tech-enabled marketing services business. Our proprietary technology is called Nova. It’s at the core of everything that we do both internally and in how we engage with our clients. Essentially, we provide performance marketing services to leading e-commerce brands. This is everything from technical services like search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization to full-performance creative services. We do Amazon services. We do all social services. We do Facebook and Instagram, and we do influencers—really, the whole range.Read More
One of the things that’s unique about us is that Nova enables us to take one of our clients or prospective clients—take all of their first party data—and run it through Nova, which analyzes everything by channel. It finds gaps and shows us where the performance could be better and where the performance is already good. We then use our strategies to review all of this, and we put a road map together, which we call our Nova Blueprint. We create a marketing strategy and a forecast that we can then implement with our expertise to bring additional sales to our clients. Nova also provides real-time dashboards and other data that our clients can monitor. What I really like about this company and why I joined the team is that it has a great mission and a really strong culture.
The founder and CEO, Grayson Lafrenz, is still very active in the company. He’s a really smart guy and just really good at building strong, motivated, and loyal team members. I first met him on the phone, and I immediately knew that I wanted to work at this company. I felt very aligned with his vision. I’ve felt very aligned with the rest of the executive team. The mission is very simple: To be the most valued and respected digital marketing firm. In order to achieve this, Grayson created eight rules that everyone should live by. I’m not going to go over all of them, but it’s things like integrity, loyalty, and trust, above all. Challenge yourself. Don’t wait to be challenged. Embrace change. Always innovate. And, above all, have fun — don’t take yourself too seriously. These are things that really resonated with me.
I think that these are things that drive us to be the best at our jobs. The company’s doing really well, and I think that this is a good reason why. I’m also again working with a PE firm, which I love. The company was bought in 2019. Our majority ownership is now with this PE firm in Chicago. Believe it or not, this was something that really astounded me. Throughout COVID, we bolted on two acquisitions. Prior to COVID, they had had another acquisition. So, in the 2 years or so that we’ve been involved with the PE firm, we’ve had three acquisitions and the company’s grown fourfold. We’ve gone from a pre-COVID 110 or so employees to about 450 employees now. We’re just growing really strong, and everything is really going in the right direction for us.
Power Digital Marketing | www.powerdigitalmarketing.com | San Diego, CA