When Komal Misra, a software engineer turned asset manager, decided that it was time once again to make a career change, she found herself staring at a computer screen filled with stocks from various portfolios that were being traded based not on business fundamentals but larger macro-driven trends.
“It got me to thinking: Here I had invested so much time in understanding these businesses and why they were good or great investments, but none of it mattered in that place in time when things were just selling up,” recalls Komal, who adds that she began thinking about her career as if it were a company stock that over time would be propelled or impeded due to macro-driven trends.Read More
According to Misra, “I started with a top-down approach to consider what my options were within business—in just the same way that I would’ve analyzed any stock investment. This led me to the conclusion that in the long run, if I wanted another 10- or 15-year career, I really should be thinking about transitioning to something that had a lot more staying power than what I was doing at that time. “
For Misra, who had spent the previous 15 years as a tech sector portfolio manager, the move to corporate finance was not triggered by ambitions to someday be a CFO. Instead, she tells us, she knew that management teams were seeking to add senior finance executives who could help to propel traditional finance teams into the realm of strategic finance.
Misra would join technology services company Cognizant as a vice president of finance and eventually oversee the company’s corporate development.
“Cognizant is where I learned the inner workings of a large, mega-cap company from a finance team point of view,” comments Misra, who a few years later would enter the CFO office at Internet service provider Starry, Inc.
Looking back, Misra says that it was not so much the CFO role as the opportunities that the role has afforded her that led her into the C-suite.
Says Misra: “I was very willing to take on risks in life and see where things led me and not be afraid to fail, because from my point of view, whether I became a CFO or not didn’t matter—what mattered was that I was doing something interesting.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Starry … what type of company is this, and what are its offerings today?
Misra: We are a broadband service provider and a very, very mission-driven company. I think that when you think about companies that are competing with us, you find that most of them tend to have broadband service offerings that are pricey. Customer service is not a main part of their offering. They tend to have NPS scores that are really, really low compared to ours. I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but people in most of this country really don’t have a choice when it comes to who their broadband provider is. Thus there is an unbalanced marketplace where prices are higher and customer satisfaction is low. Starry is a mission-driven company that wants to change all of this.Read More
We developed our own wireless technology to dramatically lower the cost of connecting homes to high-quality broadband service, which we offer. In addition, we are very focused on our customer experience. Our goal is to really delight our customers, and this is reflected in our NPS scores. Our score is 69, which is multiples of anyone else in broadband services and on a par with some of our most beloved household names. We are very proud of what we do. We also participate in something called the ACP Program, through which we offer very cheap broadband services for just $30 a month to many consumers. This all sounds really simple and obvious, but offering an affordable high-quality broadband service with very high customer service experiences is quite a tall order. We are very proud that we are able to achieve it every day.
My next set of priorities is to build out a strategic finance function within the team. I’ve also brought in a new head of IR. We are very focused on building out our shareholder base. A while ago—even before we went public—we started tracking who the typical investors in our businesses are, whether they’re growth businesses or telecom businesses. We’ve started doing some outreach to these investors. My next focus is really to internally do some more buildout on SOX compliance and some other strategic finance initiatives. In addition to this, though, I need to be very externally focused and continuing to tell our story, whether it’s in conferences or in personal meetings with other investors who could become very interesting shareholders of our stock.
You own your future. Take risks and have the confidence that you can achieve every goal you set for yourself. You learn as much from your failures as you do from your successes and remember both are an integral part of your life. – Komal Misra, CFO, Starry, Inc.
Starry, Inc. | www.starry.com | Boston, MA