Personal Growth as a Startup CFO with Rebecca Coxshall of MOJU
"I'm making more decisions that actually have weight, and they definitely change the direction of certain things. And it's being part of that team that makes those decisions very fulfilling for me."
What leads someone to leave a comfortable, secure finance role in their dream company, and dive in at the deep end in a young startup? For Rebecca Coxshall, Head of Finance and Operations at MOJU, it was all about growth.
Rebecca wanted boots on the ground experience, to add new skills and get involved in building a successful young business. She also really liked their healthy juice shots.
In this episode of CFO Yeah!, we explore Rebecca's move from Red Bull (her "Mecca") to MOJU, the excitement of learning new things every day, and how she brings financial literacy to her colleagues.
Leaving the comfort of larger companies for personal growth
“I was working at Red Bull, which had always been a bit of a Mecca for me. It has a fantastic brand and I’m also into skiing, snowboarding, and being outdoors in general. And it's fantastic what they do to develop individuals.
“But I had always wanted to go and work at a startup or a scaleup. I had been very conscious about moving to these companies that would arm me with skills which I could then develop elsewhere. And I was actually due to do an MBA when I started chatting to the guys at MOJU. It just sort of clicked: I really believe where this company is going to go. I really believe in the team and what they want to achieve.”
“The question was, do I go and do an MBA while working at Red Bull, or do I go and learn it ‘boots on the ground’ in a high growth company? I was really ready to get stuck in with that type of company. That being said, I didn't know that six months into the role, we’d have a global pandemic.”
“Leaving my comfortable position in a really well-respected, really successful brand to go and move into a smaller, quite high risk company where I was going to be working hard, but I was passionate about it. It's certainly been a learning curve, but I've loved it. Absolutely every minute.”
Learning on the job as a startup CFO
“The expectations and the deliverables really change from everything I had experienced before. You go down to the minutiae in some things, but then you’re really high up in others. Juggling all the balls was very difficult at times.”
“How do you want to learn to do this, and to succeed in business? Do you want to go and learn the theory, or do you want to do it in practice? I was doing it in practice with the team. The other leaders had left relatively comfortable positions in other big businesses, and we were all in it together.”
“As hard as it has been at times, everyone has come together. And it's that idea that we're stronger because of what we've all been through, and it's going to be better as a result. The shared experience is going to make us really, really strong.”
“When I moved from Sunseeker to Apple, I was a very, very small cog in a very big wheel. I'm working really hard and working long hours. But where's my impact?”
“I feel more impactful in this role because I'm making more decisions that actually have weight, and they definitely change the direction of certain things. And it's being part of that team that makes those decisions very fulfilling for me.”
The joys of fundraising
“I joined in June 2019, and we closed a funding round in February of 2020. So that was round one for me. And then we also did another one that closed in March .”
“I enjoy seeing the story come to life. When you see the inputs pull the picture together, I enjoy that. And then you get excited about what we're going to do. How are we going to do this? How do we put the pieces together to do it?”
“The fast turnarounds - ‘Can we do something else? Can we do this?’ - that's not always fun.”
“But I certainly learned at Apple that you set your Excel up to be completely future-proof. So it's quick. There's no way that you could be doing that type of thing with rudimentary Excel skills. You've got to be pretty good at handling that type of thing. There were two of us that could do it. So between myself and one of the guys in the sales team, we created some great information that we could share with potential investors.”
“So yeah, it was fun. But not every single minute of the day was fun.”
Taking smart risks
“I describe myself as an all or nothing type of person. I've also been described as someone who likes to drop themselves in at the deep end and fight their way out. And I think I learn by experience. So I want to put myself in these situations where it's sink or swim, because as hard as it will be, I know I will be able to swim.
“And everyone is capable of learning anything. In my mind, I think it's, as long as you're learning the stuff that you're interested in, you'll get there faster. So it's just about the context that you put yourself in, whether that's being surrounded by fantastic individuals - which is the dream way to learn - or you have your comfort blanket removed and you've got to find your way out.
“I want to grow as much as I can. So I'm going to find the circumstances or environments that allow me to do that.”
“My role in the company is to make us as strong as possible, so we can invest in the things we want to invest in at the right time to allow us to grow. So you've got the balance there where you need to be mitigating risk. But it's so that we can invest for growth at the right time. That's what we've identified as our growth strategy.
Building a financially literate company
“I've always been very enthusiastic about educating people on what a P and L is, for example. People should have financial literacy, because we don't learn about pensions in school or anything like that. It’s very easy to find finance scary, for some people. But it's not at all.”
“Every single person in a business has the potential to impact it, and does impact it. So it's just about saying it in the right way. And I speak in non-finance terms really. So it's quite easy for me to share knowledge with non-financial people and make it more bite-sized. And that's what I have always wanted to, and will always want to do in any company that I'm in.”
“But it's just much easier when you're in a smaller one. Everybody is actually empowered to go and investigate the P and L - we publish the results internally on Tableau. And everyone can go in and investigate, and see how we're tracking versus budget or the last year. We're very ‘open book’ and want to make sure that everybody understands our performance as a business and how they're impacting it.”
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