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The podcast featuring finance leaders driving change within their organizations.

May 15, 2022

Perhaps few CFO career paths better reveal the advantages a founder-led firm may offer career-minded executives than that of Prophix CFO Ryan Van Hatten.

Back in 2016—when the firm’s previous CFO exited the company—Prophix’s founder and CEO, the late Paul Barber, asked Van Hatten, an 11-year company veteran, to step into the CFO office until a CFO hire could be made.

Recalls Van Hatten: “I knew all of the people on the finance team, and they knew me, and we respected each other, so it was like, ‘Calm the troops, assess where we’re at, and while this may take a few months, you can then go home to operations.’”    

However, Van Hatten never did return to operations, and his ascension into the CFO role was finally set after Barber sold the software company to Canadian private equity firm HG Capital in early 2021.  

Comments Van Hatten: “I was suddenly thrust into a different world. It was very different from having Paul and a bunch of friendly managers asking the questions.”

Still, few CFOs likely would have been better prepared to answer sticky operational questions than Van Hatten, who had spent the balance of his 16-plus years at the software company zigzagging across the organization as Barber and COO Alok Ajmera (now CEO) summoned him to take on new and different roles.     

Reports Van Hatten: “I had been around the company a long time. I knew the people, and if I had fallen flat on my face, they would have been there to help me and pick me up.”

Asked what advantages a founder-led firm might offer to aspiring CFOs and what exactly sets apart the company that Paul Barber founded, Van Hatten says that this comes down to learning and relationships: “It’s having the openness to learn from each other.” –Jack Sweeney