“Strive to make things easier for your team. The better they do, the more successful the entire team becomes.” –Jim Calabrese, CFO, Finalsite
Jim Calabrese recalls that when he began to climb the corporate ladder early in his career, a finance executive mentor told him, “Never be afraid to make the coffee.”
This curious advice caught Calabrese’s attention, so the up-and-coming executive listened carefully as the mentor added: “As an executive, you need to be able to get dirty—to roll up your sleeves. You don’t want to be the person who can’t do a mundane task because you’re in love with your title.”Read More
Today, as a CFO, Calabrese serves up his own bite-size mentoring verbiage in this way: “There’s nothing more valuable when you’re the CFO than understanding how the widgets are made—and being the person who’s willing to take on the challenging projects.”
Calabrese tells us that he reached the CFO office by aggressively pursuing projects outside the traditional finance realm while also signing up for long stretches on strategic planning teams, where he guided re-engineering projects in the energy and software sectors.
His strategic work—along with his operational “grinding and tinkering”—positioned the CPA/MBA hybrid to thrive as a finance leader, especially in his current role as CFO of Finalsite, a private equity–backed SaaS developer serving the education sector.
Along the way, Calabrese says, he’s learned a thing or two when it comes to partnering with private equity firms.
Says Finalsite’s CFO: “They have a high bar, and you need to know your data and metrics—because they certainly do.”
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Finalsite … what does this company do, and what are its offerings?
Calabrese: Finalsite is the marketing and communications hub for over 3,000 independent schools in the U.S. and internationally, as well as public school districts in the United States.
We provide schools with the tools to connect with their constituents, and each of these markets is a little bit different. On both the U.S. and international fronts, our system allows schools to reach out to their populace to recruit students into their classrooms. Some of our independent schools are in the Who’s Who of that space. We have Hotchkiss, in Connecticut, which is one of the top 10 independent schools in the world. We have Loomis Chaffee and Choate—a lot of amazing schools.Read More
We also have some of the larger school districts in the United States, such as Boulder and Davis. We have well over 10% of the top 400 in this group. We’ve only really started going after the public space during the past 5 years. Our recurring revenue continues to grow at double-digit rates, and it’s been a great run.
COVID sort of changed the world. Luckily, being in software, we were able to quickly pivot into a hybrid, work-from-home model. In March of 2020, we had a work-from-home test day on a Friday, and then on Monday all of the states literally shut down and basically told everybody to stay at home. Only recently have we started to go back to a hybrid model, but most people are still working from home.
From a pain point perspective, what schools found was that their parents were challenged with trying to help their children log in to school systems and find things on their websites.
Our tools facilitate this. We solve the pain that they have in terms of communicating with their customers. We do it in a way that’s visually appealing, and we do it in a way that makes it easy for administrators to use our system. This is one of the things that helps us to continue to grab market share across the various spaces.
Final site | www.finalsite.com | Glastonbury, CT