Finance professional Andrew Heintz became a first-time CFO during the pandemic. The finance chief of SurePoint Technologies, a Cincinnati-based company that provides software for law firms, talked with StrategicCFO360 about how that experience has shaped how he approaches his work.
Heintz also talked about his career path. Critical to his choices: finding talented and smart people to work with and learn from.
What led you to a career as a financial officer at a software firm? Is there anything that made SurePoint unique or especially appealing to you?
My degree is in accounting, so I knew I would be in a financial role, but I got into software by accident. When I graduated from college, the job market was weak, so I took the first opportunity. At that time, I barely knew what SaaS meant.
My first job was working for a small, founder-owned business, so I got to see how the whole company operated. Working there felt so cool to me. I liked being around the creative people building the product—people who thought differently from finance people. I could have easily landed in another industry, but there I discovered I enjoyed software companies.
SurePoint was appealing to me for two reasons. First, it was backed by a private equity sponsor in ParkerGale. I had gotten some exposure to that world in previous roles and decided it was something I wanted. I knew that a sponsor would encourage growth and investment in the business. I also knew it attracts talented people that I could work with and learn from.
Second, I was impressed by our CEO in my interview. He was hired by ParkerGale to modernize the company and take on the transformation challenge. He had a clear idea of how the business would look in the coming years, and I wanted to be part of it.
I see you’ve been the CFO for just under two years—what has been most rewarding about the experience so far, and what are you looking forward to as you grow in the role?
Yes, this is my first time as CFO. I was tapped in and naturally had both nerves and excitement about the step up in responsibility. For me, personally, it’s been rewarding to lead our finance team. We’ve accomplished a lot together, and I’m proud of the work we do for the company. Beyond the team, I’m energized by working with talented people. Collectively, we are building better software for the business of law.
Our company has been around for decades, so the problems to work through are more complicated than if we had a blank slate. It’s been rewarding to be part of that transformation and see our new product ideas come to life. I look forward to our continued growth and the challenges that come with scaling up our team to serve a larger business.
How did coming into this role during the height of the pandemic impact the way you approach your job? Have there been any unexpected silver linings that arose from taking on a new role during such a time of uncertainty?
I was hired before the pandemic in financial planning and analysis. In that role, I was helping our then CFO and CEO navigate the pandemic right from the beginning. That period of uncertainty underscores the ability to shift from growth mode to crisis mode. In an instant, everything changed, and it’s about survival. That’s a totally different mindset. It was a good lesson to observe that acting fast, even if imperfectly, is critical.
As I took on the job of CFO, I came into it with the recent memory of the pandemic upending our plans. Having a plan is essential, but also worthless in a crisis. As a result, our finance team has a general idea of our longer-term goals, but we plan our initiatives in shorter 12-week segments. As we get done with a segment, we reassess and plan for the next one.
The pandemic emphasized flexibility. We often talk about how things will change, and the future is uncertain, so we can’t become too invested in any project. This instilled a greater sense of urgency to complete a project so we can be available for the next challenge. If something is dragging out or we learn something new, we evaluate if our plans still make sense. I think this has been a silver lining for our finance team and how we approach our work.
Already in 2022, SurePoint has launched a new time management application, SureTime, and acquired Cole Valley Software, the maker of ContactEase CRM for legal professionals. How has this period of growth and expansion impacted your position and responsibilities?
My role and responsibilities have grown alongside this period of growth for the company. What I am doing now is different from just six months ago. Now I’m partly responsible for integrating ContactEase into our company. As we continue to grow, I’m thinking about what the future looks like as a scaled-up version of today. That means sharing data and reporting to a broader group of people so we can understand the business and make decisions about the next investments into our product.
What are the most important skills you bring to your CFO role? What advice would you give to someone looking to follow a similar career path?
Most of my job is making good judgments and communicating. Most days, I am talking, writing and listening. In those conversations is the job. Sure, I still need to know about GAAP, tax codes and software tools we use. But the skills I bring to my role have less to do with technical ability.
When I got started, I didn’t care as much about making money. First I just got a job. Then I realized in my role I could learn a lot about how companies work. I liked the idea of learning first and trusted that my experience would lead to bigger things. What I learned in areas like product development, sales, operations and HR, I still use today. Getting a broader experience was good for me.
Unless you have a very specific idea of a career, I’d say look for jobs that give a variety of experience. And then be eager to sign up for projects that come your way. I still try to adopt this attitude today—I don’t think it goes away with more experience. That has worked well so far for me.