Shana Veale had been working in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, office of Arthur Andersen for only about 8 months when the 88-year-old stalwart accounting house collapsed.
Being a recent college graduate at the time, Veale tells us, she really didn’t grasp all of what the news headlines attempted to convey as the turn of events surrounding the Enron scandal unfolded.Read More
“We began having these weekly calls internally to discuss the circumstances, but then the cuts came in May and I no longer had a job,” recalls Veale, who as a newbie accountant had little to lose when compared to those colleagues with households to support and decades of equity about to vanish.
Still, having been an eyewitness to the collapse of a firm that had once populated corporate parks and urban centers across the country, Veale found that her first career chapter would administer a lesson that many finance and accounting professionals often learn much later in their careers.
“When in business, you should always expect the unexpected” was the takeaway from Veale’s early days—which she says has come in handy at PharmChem, Inc., where twenty years beyond her Andersen days she found herself on the sidelines of a proxy fight between company management and new and old board members.
For Veale, who had served as PharmChem’s controller for the previous 3 years, “the unexpected” this time around resulted in doors being swung open rather than shut, as the victorious and newly configured board asked her to serve as CFO.
“I got lucky because I had had 3 months with the former CFO as the management teams transitioned, so I was able to gather information on the things that I just had not done before, ” remark’s Veale, who lists preparing for an upcoming audit among her top of mind, 12-month CFO priorities.
Looking back Veale observes: “I have had a lot of interesting things happen in my career, but I have found very few people who can say: ‘Oh, yes, I’ve been through that as well.’” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about PharmChem … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Veale: I first came on as the controller at PharmChem, where we have a drug testing sweat patch that we sell. We are mainly in the criminal justice arena, so we do probation, pretrial, and so on. We work with a lot of judges to have the person who needs to be monitored wear the patch on their arm for 7 to 10 days before it’s then removed and sent to a lab for testing. The testing pulls out all of the molecules that are in the pad and checks for any drugs that may have been used during that time period.Read More
I’ve been here for a little over 5 years now. My move to the CFO role kind of came about in August of 2021, when we got a whole new board and I was promoted into the position. So now I have the CFO role and oversee the finance function. I see everything from the input to the financial reports at the end of the month, which I also put together.
On January 1 of this year, we switched to NetSuite. We made an investment in order to see better into the organization and work and respond to some of the KPIs going forward. This has allowed to be more responsive to the board and others. Going from QuickBooks to NetSuite helped with all of this.
At the board’s request, we started to provide weekly KPIs. We work with the board to ask, “Okay, what is it that you find important?” We know what we find important and we know what we look at, but maybe these are not things with which they are concerned. It took kind of a back-and-forth and trial-and-error approach for a couple months to figure out what information they needed and what would be helpful for them. Then we needed to figure out, “Okay, how can we pull this data?” It was all about learning. Before, we weren’t pulling KPIs because we didn’t have the system to do it. Our previous board was very much involved in day-to-day operations and performance, so they already knew the numbers. This new board was asking for different things, so we had to figure out just what they wanted and then how to use the new system to provide it.
PharmChem LLC | www.pharmchek.com | Fort Worth, TX