A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position carries a lot of responsibility, and all the more so at a fast-paced tech company. Startup CFOs are tasked with driving a growing business towards success and profitability as quickly as possible, which is certainly no easy feat.Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur looking for insights into this career path, or a mid-career professional aiming to improve your skills, there’s no better way to learn than to consult with a seasoned expert. To that end, we’ve brought you some exclusive tips from TravelPerk’s current COO and former CFO, Huw Slater (LinkedIn).Huw’s impressive career spans nearly two decades, including 10 years in finance positions at BT Group, 3 years as VP of International Finance and Operations at Box, and CFO positions at Typeform and Travelperk. To learn more about Huw and his top tips for startup CFOs, check out
his interview on Soldo’s podcast, “The CFO Playbook.”
As Huw reports it, the TravelPerk team had scheduled a board meeting for about 10 days before the first COVID-19 lockdowns started. At that meeting, leadership had to address the uncertain reality of the pandemic at a time when few people knew what the future would look like. They put together some strategic planning for different scenarios in two phases and decided to temporarily cut marketing and freeze new hires. They then agreed to give weekly updates to board members as the situation evolved, planning to make more significant cuts in two months if circumstances demanded it.
A key consideration here was long-term thinking. For example, while layoffs might have eased financial pain in the short term, they could have also hurt the long-term health of the company. Instead, the finance team aimed to make strategic cuts in areas that represented high cost savings and low impact. They also made some surprising choices, like doubling the size of the engineering team as an investment in future business success.
Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic created a need for new types of business travel. Travel-related spend tripled in 2021, and the market is expected to grow even more in 2022. As companies have shifted to full-time remote or hybrid models, there is now more of a need for internal meetings as distributed teams get together in person for offsites, team building activities, and more. In this context, the future of TravelPerk looks brighter than ever.
Currently, TravelPerk is maintaining its core focus while creating more partnerships with companies like
Soldo(a spend management platform with prepaid company cards). This way, we can provide customers with a 360° business travel offer, while staying true to what we do best. Using our SaaS software, finance teams can streamline their business travel programs, gaining control and visibility over budgets while business travelers maintain their autonomy. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
What his statement means is that, although CFOs are responsible for accounting functions, financial planning and analysis, metrics, and cash flow management, a CFO’s top priorities should be communication and higher-level business strategy. Successful CFOs should over-index on leadership by focusing on both team goals and company goals. The finance function should support the company’s overall strategy from a cooperative, rather than confrontational, standpoint.
Huw’s final words of advice for finance leaders are: