Five exemplary finance leaders who’ve taken their companies public
A successful IPO is the pinnacle moment for the typical startup or scaleup. And it’s a moment that the vast majority never get to experience. It takes vision, resilience, strong financial leadership, and lots of luck.
So it’s no wonder so few private companies can and do go public. They need outstanding leadership, organization, knowledge, and strategy, especially from finance leaders, to reach this milestone.
In addition, once public, the company faces much more stringent regulatory, audit, and governance standards. So an IPO isn’t just a one-time deal, it’s a long-term commitment that needs the right leader and effort behind it.
Very few finance leaders have an IPO on their resumé.
We’d like to shine a light on five CFOs and finance leaders who have achieved an IPO thanks to their excellent financial leadership. They were nominated by fellow peers from our very own CFO Connect community. Not just known for their IPO achievements, they stand out for many other reasons. Let’s get to know these five leaders and what makes them exceptional.
Alexandra Vázquez Bea
Alexandra Vázquez Bea is the current COO and CFO at Oetker Digital, the digital branch of German food and beverage giant Dr. Oetker. She describes herself as a food industry and corporate expert whose leadership style is progressive, passionate, and with a strong focus on action.
Alexandra led Berlin-based vegan food brand Veganz Group AG through their IPO in 2021.
Current role: COO/CFO - Oetker Digital
Notable achievements: Active mentor at several startup incubators and accelerators
IPO details: XETR: VEZ.F, 2021
What makes Alexandra stand out as a leader:
“Thought leadership with a positive attitude. Alexandra is managing the daily business with a clear focus on tomorrow's topics, always striving for more and never accepting the status quo. While she is doing this, she’s always calm and in a positive mood.”
Roy Hefer is a finance industry veteran, having worked in various finance leadership roles around the world over the past decade. He’s an experienced fundraiser in both private and public capital, and he’s passionate about building winning teams.
Roy is also a two-time IPO CFO. He’s led two of his previous companies, Lumenis and Hippo Insurance, through initial public offerings.
Current role: CFO at TravelPerk
Notable achievements: MBA from INSEAD, Strategic Financial Leadership Program from Stanford University, CFO Connect Summit speaker
IPO details: NYSE: HIPO, 2021, NASDAQ: LMNS, 2013
What makes Roy stand out as a leader:
“Roy stands out with his unique approach to the role of CFO and Finance team in general. They are not here to just move numbers or tell the leadership when to start or stop spending. Roy thinks of his team as TravelPerk’s strategic advisors. According to him, the goal of the finance team is to become a thought partner for each employee at TravelPerk.”
“Roy’s excellence stems from working with a formula:
Credibility: know the business, the market, your product and customer needs;
Reliability: deliver on your commitments and deadlines;
Intimacy: prove over time that you can be a confidant and trusted partner;
And last but not least: always focus on genuinely trying to help your peers.
This is a high standard for everything his team does at TravelPerk, but this is also what led Roy’s previous companies to success. Two successful IPOs on his hands prove that this formula works.”
Sönke-Timo Kisker has years’ worth of experience as a finance leader for scaleups and companies in the hyper-growth stage. He’s now Group CFO and Managing Director at YDEON Group, a Hamburg-based retailer for home and garden projects. He’s expanded his financial leadership into other areas: Sönke describes his current role as a “wide, entrepreneurial Co-CEO/CFO” position.
In 2016, he led travel search engine Trivago's finance function through their IPO on the NASDAQ exchange.
Current role: Group CFO and Managing Director, YDEON
Notable achievements: MBA from Otto Beisheim School of Management, financial advisor
IPO details: NASDAQ: TRVG, 2016
What makes Sönke stand out as a leader:
“Sönke has had a huge impact on the finance world. He’s achieved so much! He’s the youngest finance leader to IPO in the US at the age of 29, he doubled his company’s EBITDA in 3 years, he managed the finance function of one of the fastest-growing companies to get to €1 billion in sales, plus he’s an active CFO community member and a successful Accounting Summit speaker.”
“Sönke is just a very kind, cheerful person besides being a kick-a** CFO”
Julian Lange got his start in finance at multinational conglomerate General Electric, where he spent nine years in various finance roles. In 2014, he became CFO of Marley Spoon, where he led the company through its initial public offering in 2018. An active investor, Julian describes himself as a “purpose-driven early-stage investor and advisor.”
As CFO at meal kit company Marley Spoon, Julian played a pivotal role in leading the company through their IPO in 2018.
Current role: CFO, Upvest
Notable achievements: Active investor, MBA from EBS University, CFO Connect Summit speaker
IPO details: ASX: MMM, 2018
What makes Julian stand out as a leader:
“Julian Lange stands out as an inspiring and impactful leader due to his unwavering dedication to innovation and his ability to drive transformative changes within our organization. He consistently leads by example, encouraging his team to think outside the box and embrace new ideas.”
“Julian's strategic vision has played a pivotal role in propelling our company forward, positioning us as a frontrunner in the industry. His commitment to excellence, coupled with his exceptional communication and leadership skills, has a profound and lasting impact on our team's morale and performance, making him a true inspiration to us all.”
Berlin-based Stevan Lutz is currently CFO at business software company CSS. He has over 15 years’ experience at hyper-growth e-commerce companies. He led vacation rental platform HomeToGo through their IPO in 2021. Stevan also co-founded the Finance Leaders’ League, a network for European CFOs and VPs.
HomeToGo achieved their IPO in 2021 thanks to Stevan’s financial leadership.
Current role: CFO, CSS AG
Notable achievements: Co-founder of the Finance Leaders League, consulting
IPO details: XETR: HTG, 2021
What makes Stevan stand out as a leader:
“Stevan was part of the journey from the very beginning to the IPO and built the team, processes and culture.”
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