Years from now, when Castlight Health CFO Will Bondurant reflects back on the varied chapters of his finance career, he may title the current one “The Turnaround”—that is, if he and Castlight CEO Maeve O’Meara are able to achieve what the firm’s previous management team had not been able to: a strategy transformation.
Like his CEO, Bondurant is not an outsider: After joining the firm in 2013, he was assigned a variety of strategy and financial planning duties that led to more influential product strategy and operational roles of the type that many aspiring CFOs eagerly seek out. As Bondurant shared with us his cross-functional journey, he mentioned few titles or promotions but instead drew our attention to a variety of experiences that have led us to conclude that Castlight’s future CFO first emerged as one of the company’s foremost problem-solvers.Read More
Says Bondurant: “If everything is working, you don’t always get the opportunity to fix something. The reason that I was able to have these opportunities is that we had challenges—and from where I sit now, they certainly benefited my own personal development.”
Then, in 2017, came a $135 million acquisition, a transaction that management told investors would transform Castlight but instead ended up leaving a trail of merger snags and glitches that ultimately led to the formation of a new management team.
At the time, Bondurant no doubt may have appeared to certain investors and outsiders to be a dark horse candidate for the firm’s CFO role. Still, it appears likely that his Castlight colleagues viewed things differently.
Having spent many hours with customers before becoming CFO, Bondurant says he was familiar with certain external facing aspects of the role, but not all.
“Investor relations was a new area for me—I had been external in my previous roles but principally with customers and partners and the like,” explains Bondurant, who recalls several unpleasant calls with investors after stepping into the CFO role.
“I recall asking myself in the first week, ‘Do these people just hate me? Am I just really disliked by these people?,’” comments Bondurant, who notes that he now finds the calls with investors highly productive . –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: What are your priorities as a finance leader over the next 12 months?
Bondurant: There are really three. The first comes from the fact that we are in the middle of a transformation. We’ve talked with our investors a good bit about where we are and where we’re going, We’ve talked about a 24-month time line, and we’re 12, 18 months in. So, we’re focused on delivering on this transformation, which means not only the business hitting its measures but also, more important, reflecting on this and sharing everything with our investors. One of the core tenets that we have is being very transparent about where we are in this and wanting to share the full set of information and view of the business that we have so that folks on the street can make decisions.Read More
The second has to do with the fact that we’re a healthcare company in the continued midst of a global pandemic. We are continuing to evolve what we do and how we do it. Right now, we are supporting the CDC on the COVID-19 vaccine delivery pathway. This is something that 12 months ago I never would have imagined us doing. We have the opportunity to make a little money—there’s revenue associated with it—but this also contributes to the morale and mission of what it means to be a healthcare company. We will see the continued evolution of this.
The third piece really is helping our employees to navigate the world of remote work. The vast majority of our team is remote. We did this very successfully in terms of performance from different parts of the business, but now we’re approaching 12 months of it. It’s a different world every month, so we need to continue to ensure that we have connected, productive teams at the same time that we are also starting to think about who comes back to the office and when. We’re not that far away from being able to do this as enough people in the country get vaccinated and we get ahead of this disease.
But it won’t be everybody coming back, and it won’t be the same way. Making sure that we’re set up well to do this is going to be something that’s core to our business—and anything core to our business is core to my role as a CFO.
Value Quote: “One of the core tenets that we have is being very transparent about where we are in this transformation and wanting to share the full set of information and view of the business that we have so that folks on the street can make decisions.” jb
Castlight Health | www.castlighthealth.com | San Francisco, CA