May 18, 2022
When Mike Catelani seeks to identify the objectives and career milestones that have helped to advance him into the ranks of Bay Area biotech CFOs, he mentions that although he had a deep interest in biology during his high school years, upon entering college he decided to swap out a biology curriculum for an accounting one.
More than a decade later, Catelani decided to make a career “lane change” to accept a CFO role for a manufacturer of instruments and tools used in drug discovery.
While the company, whose stock was traded on the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange), was not directly involved in drug discovery, Catelani believed that the CFO stint would put him one step closer to opportunities inside the biotech realm.
Still, he can’t help but marvel at the randomness of the circumstances that ultimately opened the biotech door.
“It was complete dumb luck: A recruiter was looking for a CFO who had Australian Securities Exchange experience for a biotech firm in the Bay Area, and—not surprisingly—mine was like the only name that popped up,” explains Catelani, who was named CFO of Benitec, an Australian public company that at the time specialized in drug development for hepatitis C and HIV.
Seventeen years and multiple biotech chapters later, Catelani looks back on his original door of entry as “a bit of a turnaround.”
“It had roughly 6 weeks of cash when I came on board and at the time was involved in a number of patent infringement lawsuits,” reports Catelani, who lists cash management as every biotech CFO’s mission-critical skillset tool. –Jack Sweeney