We often like to ask our CFO guests if they remember the first time that they presented to a board of directors. For many, this happened earlier than you might expect—but few of our interviewees have exposed the benefits of “early access” for us better than Rex Jackson.
“I grew up in boardrooms,” comments Jackson, who recalls being invited to his first board meeting when he was about 28.
Jackson had spent 3 years at a Los Angeles law firm before signing on as a corporate attorney for a local real estate management company whose board had a budding appetite for M&A.
“For any deal that they wanted to do, I became the ‘Get It Done Guy,’” explains Jackson, who notes that his moniker in the boardroom soon began to apply to more than just the next deal.Read More
“When an opportunity to land on a clear track northward within an organization presents itself, you just jump all over it,” remarks Jackson, whose early career endeavors swung open the door to a succession of general counsel roles at a variety of companies.
Along the way, his “get it done” mantra helped to add some noticeable addenda to his legal career track.
Jackson explains: “One time, I ended up as a salesperson; another time, I had to head up marketing. I have run R&D, I have run operations, I have run corporate development.”
It perhaps should come as no surprise, then, that when an interim CFO position opened up at publicly-traded Synopsis, Jackson—then the firm’s general counsel—shot up his hand. While he would occupy this particular role for no more than a year, within 13 months of concluding this interim tour of duty he was stepping into a CFO position at yet another publicly-traded company.
Just as at Synopsis, Jackson’s next chapter began with a CFO exit.
“Within 6 weeks of my arrival as a new general counsel, the company shot their CFO,” reports Jackson, who subsequently was asked by the company’s board to move into the CFO role. This time, Jackson would occupy the office for roughly 3-1/2 years.
“It was at this point that I became visible on recruiter radar screens,” comments Jackson, who has to date served as CFO at four other companies, including ChargePoint, where he has been CFO for the past 5 years.
Says Jackson: “I’ve had good support from CEOs and board members, and if you can get this kind of access and observe the business from a high level, then finance—since it’s horizontal within the business—will serve you well.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about ChargePoint … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Jackson: If you look at the world going electric, from a super-high level, there are two components: One is everything passenger and the other is everything fleet—both of which are super important. At ChargePoint, we say, “Okay, we want to support passenger, which is residential and commercial, and we also want to support fleet in a big way, so we’re going to hang out in both North America and Europe and we’re not going to do anywhere else.” So, we’re very, very focused.
What I think that people miss when they look at the space is that they lump everybody that’s in the space together and don’t realize how we’re different, which is that we are a technology solutions provider, not really a hardware company.Read More
We provide tech solutions through hardware and software, and everything’s networked. We’ve recognized something that I think most people don’t recognize, which is that we’re talking about incredibly vital, basic, central infrastructure. This isn’t just a plug on the side of your wall. We’ll say, “No, no, no—you have to do this right. It’s a necessity. It’s got to be everywhere. You need to be able to find it, you need to be able to use it, and it always has to work.”
The only way to do this at scale is to get the people who own the real estate where it lives to be part of the process. Then you have everything networked so that you can see it, manage it, and fix it if it breaks. Then what you end up with is, “Wow, now I have a real infrastructure play going!” So, we don’t own the hardware. We don’t make money on power. We don’t make money on drivers. What we do is work with hosts to get it out there and make surethat it works.
One of our goals is to make money on everything that we do—except drivers—and to end up with a crowdsourced, networked, electrification infrastructure that’s nationwide. I want to keep a very watchful eye on the balance sheet because we grew 94% last year, and this puts an enormous amount of pressure on you from a working capital perspective. Inventory, accounts receivable versus accounts payable, all of this good stuff—I have to make it all work. We’re going to keep growing, so being able to manage this is super important.
ChargePoint | www.chargepoint.com | Campbell, CA