Estimated read time: 4 minutes, 18 seconds
FastSpring’s Employee Spotlight is a Q&A series that features the hardworking, intelligent, and fun people that make FastSpring great. Get to know the fantastic team behind the ecommerce platform.
Q: What is your role at FastSpring?
A: I serve as the Chief Financial Officer where I’m responsible for budgeting, forecasting, and strategic planning. Because of my background in law, I also serve as a legal counsel for FastSpring.
Q: It looks like you have a very “atypical” CFO background, could you elaborate a bit more on that?
A: Absolutely. I actually got my start working as a corporate lawyer on Wall Street where I got a lot of exposure across fields like Private Equity, Commercial Banking, Mergers and Acquisition (M&A), and debt financing. I then spent four years in sales operations and strategy for Siebel Systems (acquired by Oracle) and three years in management consulting at Mckinsey. The last seven years of my career have been in CFO roles at companies like SteelHouse and Intuit.
Q: What inspired your decision to join FastSpring?
A: There are many reasons supporting my decision to join FastSpring.
- FastSpring’s core business. What’s really interesting about FastSpring is that we sit at the intersectionality of software and subscription billing, payments, and ecommerce. These industries are all expected to grow in the near future, and I’m excited to see how we can pioneer FastSpring’s platform to take advantage of the trends in these industries.
- FastSpring’s growth potential. Startups are an integral part of the technology lore, and you really owe it to yourself to work at one. Think of the startup lifecycle, at the beginning you’re raising money from friends and family, doing a lot of validation for your product, and thinking of a viable go-to-market strategy. One hundred employees—roughly the size FastSpring is at—is my sweet spot for startups. Typically at this stage, you’ve gone beyond the proof-of-concept and you’re actually generating revenue. You could really compare this stage to the inflection point of an “S” curve. We’ve got everything in place to support the next stage of growth and now it’s about focusing on how much we can scale the business.
Q: What is it about your day-to-day that excites you the most?
A: I enjoy being able to work with and support the different departments at FastSpring. I think of finance as the connective tissue of an organization. When I’m attending meetings with other departments or I’m sitting at the table with the other executives I’m constantly thinking, “What can I do in my role to help the other people in this room excel at their job?”
Q: In your recent podcast with CFO Thought Leader, you talked a lot about this “strategic CFO” role. Could you explain that term further?
A: Of course. I like to think of the role of the CFO in terms of two circles.
In the center circle, you have what I call the core CFO responsibilities. I wouldn’t say they are the legs of the table but these are the typical responsibilities that you’d closely associate with a Chief Financial Officer; closing the books, budgeting, forecasting, strategic planning, etc.
In the second outer circle, you have the strategic CFO component, which focuses on developing a clear strategy for accomplishing the high-level goals specific to your business. One of our goals at FastSpring is accelerating our revenue growth after the equity investment from Accel-KKR.
Check out the full episode of CFO Thought Leader featuring Sian below:
Q: What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve been given?
A: Cross-specialize! I really value cross-specialization. If you’re thinking of it in terms of being a star football player, knowing how to play other sports like basketball and soccer—the different insight and skillsets you get from playing these other sports are going to make you an overall better athlete.
The same is true for business. If you’ve done a stint in marketing, don’t be afraid to dip into Business Development or Sales. Looking back on my career, my legal and management consulting experience have been instrumental in my career as a CFO. When you’re thinking of ways to grow a business and where the budget should be allocated, it’s much easier to evaluate the ROI of certain decisions.
Q: Outside of work, what are your favorite hobbies and activities?
A: I’m a huge audiophile. My pride and joy is my stereo system and I love listening to vinyl records. I’m also a big fan of Radiohead and U2! While other people listen to music as a sort of background task while they’re doing something else, I’m the opposite. I enjoy focusing solely on listening to music.
These are just a few highlights from the conversation with Sian. We’re very excited to have Sian join our executive team and look forward to working with him.
Are you interested in joining our amazing team at FastSpring? We’re hiring! Visit our career page to see our open positions.