Perhaps few CFO career paths better reveal the advantages a founder-led firm may offer career-minded executives than that of Prophix CFO Ryan Van Hatten.
Back in 2016—when the firm’s previous CFO exited the company—Prophix’s founder and CEO, the late Paul Barber, asked Van Hatten, an 11-year company veteran, to step into the CFO office until a CFO hire could be made.
Recalls Van Hatten: “I knew all of the people on the finance team, and they knew me, and we respected each other, so it was like, ‘Calm the troops, assess where we’re at, and while this may take a few months, you can then go home to operations.’”Read More
However, Van Hatten never did return to operations, and his ascension into the CFO role was finally set after Barber sold the software company to Canadian private equity firm HG Capital in early 2021.
Comments Van Hatten: “I was suddenly thrust into a different world. It was very different from having Paul and a bunch of friendly managers asking the questions.”
Still, few CFOs likely would have been better prepared to answer sticky operational questions than Van Hatten, who had spent the balance of his 16-plus years at the software company zigzagging across the organization as Barber and COO Alok Ajmera (now CEO) summoned him to take on new and different roles.
Reports Van Hatten: “I had been around the company a long time. I knew the people, and if I had fallen flat on my face, they would have been there to help me and pick me up.”
Asked what advantages a founder-led firm might offer to aspiring CFOs and what exactly sets apart the company that Paul Barber founded, Van Hatten says that this comes down to learning and relationships: “It’s having the openness to learn from each other.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Prophix Software … was does this company do, and what are its offerings?
Van Hatten: Prophix is what’s known as a corporate performance management, or CPM, tool. This is not really a term that’s super prevalent out there in the marketplace yet. I think that if you polled a lot of CFOs, they would not just click in right away and say, “Ah, CPM—I know exactly what that is.”Read More
At its core, CPM is designed to make life easier for the office of finance. We do this through being an extension of your ERP. Primarily, we’re looking at doing planning, reporting, all of those things for which you use Excel. All of us use Excel in our day-to-day lives or in our corporate lives. Oftentimes, what you’ll find with Excel is that you run out of runway. It’s not a good tool at scale. It’s good for small companies, for sure. It’s very flexible. It’s easy to use, and there are good things about that. It lacks the structure, though, that you need really to do planning and reporting and FP&A in general at scale.
Prophix is in that CPM space. Our goal as a company is really to change the ways in which people work in the office of finance. We look at this world of analysts and directors of FP&A slogging away every single month, buried in spreadsheets, working at month ends until midnight every night just to make sure that the board or the CFO gets the report. This is not a world that we want to stay in. We want to be able to modernize it and make it better. That’s what a CPM solution like ours does. That’s our main goal.
“Take ownership! Treat the entire business as if it’s your own and act accordingly. Your role is not to tally up the results and read them out to the board. You have to define the narrative, tell the story, identify issues, and become a strategic problem-solver across the organization.” –Ryan Van Hatten, CFO, Prophix Software
Our discussion with the late Paul Barber, founder of Prophix.
Compliments of Middle Market Thought Leader Release Date: January 24, 2019
Prophix | www.prophix.com | Ontario, Canada