Sue Vestri is CFO of Greenphire, a software company based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania that provides automated solutions to pay patients in clinical trials. She joined StrategicCFO360 to talk about the expanding role of the CFO and why she takes an active part in culture and employee engagement.
The CFO role has evolved to oversee a number of functional areas. How do you manage that expanded role?
In addition to finance and accounting, I oversee other back-office operations, including HR, legal, contracts, facilities and purchasing. I own the overall budget, and I work with each department leader to ensure that they meet their respective part to accomplish the company’s goals.
Our legal team is extremely busy, and so I manage some of the non-commercial legal work, such as securing visas for employees and IP related items such as trademarks and patents for our technology as well as product names and logos. This year I am looking to add to our legal team in support of our commercial efforts. It is also useful to partner with outside legal firms, just as I partner with insurance and benefits brokers. They have specific expertise, and in the case of outside legal, can provide overflow support when needed.
I also have responsibility for our ClinCard software operations. This is one of our core products which enables the delivery of payments to patients in clinical trials. The primary mechanism for payment is through a debit card that we issue, which comes with a lot of financial regulatory and compliance requirements.
We haven’t been in any type of capital-raising mode for quite a while. It’s a very fortunate situation to be in, to have the resources for growth — and lucky for me, because capital raising can be very time-consuming and distracting.
One of the most important things my finance department does is provide weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting to the rest of the organization and the board. In addition to standard financial reporting, we track a number of key performance metrics to monitor company growth as well as business and customer health. This gives me and others on the executive team a quick snapshot of the business. It’s also very important to keep an eye on what our competition is doing and what our customers are looking for.
As a CFO, you have to be able to analyze data being presented to you, to not only figure out how to solve any problems but also to help inform decisions about what strategic initiatives to pursue, in order to drive continued revenue and sales growth.
Has Covid impacted your specific duties and also how you’ve performed your duties?
While we have done more things via Zoom meetings, our finance and accounting organization has had at least one person in the office to do certain things. When we all started working remotely, we had to figure out how we were going do things like get the mail, post checks and pay our bills. While we ended up being able to do these things remotely, including encouraging our clients to pay us via direct deposit, it is much easier to do these things in the office.
You’re very hands-on when it comes to motivating employees – what can other CFOs learn from this?
I regularly lead one of the company’s orientation sessions for new employees. I get the opportunity to meet every single person who comes into the company, letting them know about the organization, the ownership structure, our value proposition – and myself. I’m really passionate about what we’re doing and for me, it’s so much more than just a job. It’s a great way to get to know everyone, including people in IT, operations, sales – it doesn’t matter.
I tweak my presentation a little bit depending on the audience, but I fully believe everyone coming into the organization impacts the performance of the company by their contributions. So it’s important for them to know how the company operates and how everyone plays a part.
Together with my HR director, one of the biggest things we work on together is promoting the culture of the company and increasing employee engagement. We’ve been named one of the best places to work in our region by the Philadelphia Business Journal for a number of years, and so we’re very focused on maintaining our employee retention level. We do this by keeping our company a place where people actually want to come to work. This also plays into recruiting more top talent, so I like to empower my team as much as possible to focus on culture and employee engagement.