Looking back on their career-building years, few finance leaders ever forget the first time that they presented to a board of directors.
For many, the stares of the individual directors around the table remain locked in time, forever evergreen.
For Jim Young, the gazes that stay ever-present are some that were cast not from across a boardroom but instead by a room populated by hundreds of employees attending an offsite management gathering.Read More
“My job was to communicate some of the important trends—with a little bit of perspective on the investment community—and to highlight different aspects of what was going on with our business,” explains Young, who adds that his primary intent was to bring the company’s customer value proposition into sharper focus and better expose how it translated into customer retention.
What happened next, Young tells us, left a lasting impression.
“There were a lot of questions, and I could see this high engagement as I scanned the audience,” remarks Young, who differentiates this experience from his more frequent discussions with the company’s investment community.
“The audience’s interest was not because I had brilliant insight or was presenting a great analysis of how we could create value in the business,” comments Young, who reports that following the gathering he completed a postmortem on the talk in order to better understand what was responsible for the gathering’s rapt attention.
“We had this very specific metric that in the past had gotten a few nods and maybe even been paid some lip service, and now at this session it suddenly became the focus of a discussion that revealed it to be something that was really quite valuable,” recalls Young, who today credits his talk with simply having “connected the dots.”
“The average employee could now understand and translate the metric to his or her business area and to their salespeople and all the rest,” continues Young, who observes that the talk also helped to raise the profile of his finance team by enabling it to better engage with business managers intrigued by what Young had shared.
“I make company leaders better at what they do by helping them to explain where we’re driving value and by making these connections visible all the way through to very tangible things,” notes Young, as he issues what might well be his CFO mission statement.
Reflecting back on the talk, he adds: “To this day, I use it as a lesson as far as how I should do my job goes—if I’m not connecting dots, I’m not doing my job.” –Jack Sweeney jb
“No one expects you to have all of the answers, and, importantly, neither should you assume that your more tenured colleagues do either. You are at your best when you are asking lots of questions. Be sure to invest time in building relationships with the rest of your leadership team.” –Jim Young, CFO, Coalition
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CFOTL: Tell us about Coalition … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Young: Well, first off, at the end of the day we’re a cybersecurity company, and our first and core offering is an active insurance product. And that’s unusual, right? You don’t hear active insurance. And that’s because our mission, we wake up to every day, is to protect the unprotected. And we begin with by marrying technology and a financial product insurance. And so, we are able to help small, medium size, and even larger enterprises protect themselves from the inevitability of security attacks on their infrastructure. And we are very powerful in doing that and help both on the mitigation as well as the risk transfer piece, which is so essential to just about every business in the world today. So, there’s our mission and technology that we bring to bare.Read More
This company has been a rock star from Day One. It began with our founder, Joshua Amada, whose track record of being with intelligence agencies and Goldman Sachs as well as starting a great cybersecurity company enabled him to build up quite a reputation.
This company was built up through some very well-known venture capitalists and some somewhat traditional capital raises. The groups and names involved have been really impressive and included traditional VCs, later-stage folks like General Atlantic and Valor Equity Partners, really important crossover investors like Durable Capital Partners and T. Rowe Price, and even big strategics like Allianz, one of the largest insurance companies in the world. This effort has been very deliberate and very thoughtful in bringing together what I would consider to be a really blue-chip list of names.
Our current priorities are in a couple of buckets. One is scale. I really want to demonstrate that we can scale as a finance function with a company that’s growing quickly, and I want us to have the scale of processes and capabilities that a public company would have. That’s one bucket.
Decision support is another. We have a fascinating, quantitative data–driven business, and we need an FP&A organization that is up to this task. We have the talent, so now it’s just making sure that we grow into this as a group. I need to continue to try to provide good mentoring and leadership around this, as I want us to be outstanding on this front.
I also want to have a really good blueprint of our value creation approach. We know that we create a ton of value. We’ve made shareholders very happy. We know that we’re going to be a very valuable company. I want to have a really intimate understanding of the levers and narratives that create the most value and then make sure that we’re following the blueprint as we map out our strategies to achieve our business objectives.
Coalition | www.coalitioninc.com | San Francisco, CA