Dvori Ben Basat has 20-plus years of experience leading finance, accounting and tax operations. She’s held leadership roles at global, publicly traded and privately held companies, including Seebo, NICE and 888.
Through it all, one desire has led her career decisions: to be challenged. Ben Basat, now CFO of Augury, a provider of AI-driven machine health solutions with co-headquarters in New York City and Haifa, Israel, spoke with StrategicCFO360 about creating breakthroughs, a CFO’s role during M&As and why women executives shouldn’t allow themselves to be interrupted during meetings.
What led you to a career in finance? Can you tell us about a pivotal moment in your career thus far?
I have always looked to be challenged in my professional career because I believe fast-paced, challenging environments foster growth and advancement. I know that if I reach my glass ceiling, it’s time to find a new challenge and break through to the next level. Understanding this about myself was a pivotal moment in my career.
When I started my career, I was with a company of 40 people that experienced a lot of growth and developed into a market leader. I stayed for a long time because I constantly found new opportunities and enjoyed working with a small, yet mission-focused, team of professionals. My work mainly focused on financial processes and it was satisfying to clearly see the mark I left on that organization. From there, I went on to work for larger, public companies. Given the size of the company, my decisions only impacted my team and not the end-to-end company-wide business decisions that I wanted to help drive.
After many years of working in the corporate world, I wanted a job where I could bring strategic change that would grow and shape a business. Therefore, I joined Seebo and happily returned to my roots of working for a small, yet passionate, team. Though I had previously managed teams that were larger than the entire Seebo organization, I believe smaller companies, like Seebo, have incredible energy.
As CFO, I am passionate about the intersection of finance and overall business trajectory. I enjoy making the customer a hero and facilitating the end-to-end strategy, knowing that we are creating solutions and addressing peoples’ problems. There’s a lot more opportunity for this at companies like Seebo.
Earlier this year, Seebo was acquired by Augury. My role has shifted so that I am now the CFO for Augury. The combination of these two companies is creating something that will change the world, and it’s very exciting. Before, when I was at Seebo, we addressed a component of the problem, but now we have a much bigger opportunity at Augury to make a difference. The challenges are certainly there, but the impact is even greater.
As you note, Augury recently acquired Seebo, where you served as CFO. What do you think is the most important skill for a CFO navigating an acquisition?
The CFO manages a company’s financial affairs at a high level, allowing the CEO to focus on day-to-day operations. As CFOs, we must be leaders and strategic thinkers to succeed, using data to drive decision-making. We see the company more holistically, from head to toe, by integrating information from numerous internal sources and managing risk experts in business strategy, global economics, new technology, talent recruiting and much more.
That being said, during acquisitions, CFOs have an opportunity to play a significant role throughout the entire M&A process by ensuring that potential buyers have accurate and relevant financial information to inform their decisions. A successful deal or outcome can be challenging because it involves maximizing the company’s appeal while simultaneously mitigating its weaknesses. A lot of data and analytics comes into play when working through an acquisition, and finance leaders need to know how to parse through the numbers to paint a realistic picture—on both sides of the deal.
Finally, the CFO plays an important role, along with other C-Suite members, in integrating the two entities. They can be particularly helpful in mapping out the benefits of such synergies and providing a roadmap to realize those goals.
How have you navigated the unique obstacles women face in a male-dominated industry? What advice would you give to young women looking to follow a similar career path?
There’s no doubt that finance is still a male-dominated industry which can make it challenging to get the same amount of respect as your male counterparts, be included in discussions and be put forward for the same promotion opportunities. Unfortunately, bias against women can surface in many different ways. Earlier in my career, I was asked interview questions that no man would ever be asked. One manager thought I might not come back from maternity leave and asked, “How would you manage a career with kids at home?” Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s something that would never be asked to a male colleague.
My advice to other women starting their careers in finance is to embrace your voice and have the confidence and assertiveness needed to break through barriers. Speak up, for yourself and for others, and don’t let anyone speak over you or interrupt you. Every woman’s voice and experiences matter because they bring forth a perspective that is needed in the world.
Whether you know your voice or are just beginning to find it, seek out other women who can support and guide your professional trajectory. Find a mentor among them who models the title or life that you want for yourself—and then continue to raise up other women around you.
I had an amazing female figure at a different point in my career who sought to have a management team made up of only women. I was a finance business partner and she was the general manager overseeing one of the business units. We had weekly one-on-ones where half the time was specific to professional needs and the other half was spent on mentoring. She really pushed me to not be afraid and to address things more directly.
It is rewarding to be able to be a mentor to other women in the finance industry as well. I am active in a Facebook group for women managers where we support one another and often provide advice. I also mentor two past employees. I have really great insight into their abilities, and I’m helping them advance and feel empowered to take challenges head on.
At the end of a hard day, I remind myself and my female mentees that we have every right to be here as much—if not more—than our male colleagues. Know that by staying positive, using your voice and seeking out mentors along the way, you can make a significant difference in this industry.