Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to benefit from a wide variety of professional experiences. While some would expect the answer lies in the technical aspect of those occurrences, I view it differently, because I’ve always focused more on the people side of the equation.
Along those lines, I would point to my experience as a sales representative for a leading life sciences tools company as being the most valuable. As a CFO, you are constantly “selling,” though not in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s using people skills and emotional intelligence.
Understanding people, their needs, and the potential disconnect between what they say they need and what they are truly looking for teaches you active listening, a skill I believe should be consciously practiced and continuously developed. Further, once you’ve understood their needs, you need to lead them toward the right solution. These are invaluable skills for a CFO, and necessary to be effective in that role — internally and externally.
JOSEPH FERRA is chief financial officer of Syros Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Previously, he served in multiple senior roles in the investment banking sector focusing on capital markets and M&A transactions for biopharmaceutical companies worldwide.