Welcome to our Meet the 50 Team series, where we give you the lowdown on how the people at 50onRed get stuff done. This time we’re sitting down with our Chief Financial Officer, Ingrid Pierce!
Can you tell us a little about your role here at 50onRed?
I was essentially hired in to help the company accelerate its growth. 50onRed is no longer what I would consider a startup; it’s now a small business that’s reached a critical mass of people, revenue, products, etc., so it requires certain processes and procedures.
With that said, my role focuses on the financial side of things: accounting, FP&A (Forecasting, Planning & Analysis), and really trying to tie the strategy together financially. But I also oversee HR and Talent Acquisition. It’s a slightly broader scope than I’ve had with other companies, but works cohesively as the functions are closely related.
I consider my role here to ensure we get the financial results we want, and playing devil’s advocate as we make decisions. We need to feel comfortable we have a longer term outlook when making decision, not living in the moment and seeing how we did financially. It’s more about understanding the impact of our decisions on the future and what do we need to do to produce the desired results. So trying to ensure that we have the right markers and data collection in place so we can track the correct metrics—which aren’t necessarily always finance-related—so, ultimately, we’re not working reactively.
You have a wonderful accent. Where are you from, originally?
[Laughs] That’s a complicated question. So, I was born in Scotland and raised in Scotland, as well as the Netherlands and England. My mother’s Norwegian and my Dad is Welsh. Right now, most of my family lives in Norway.
Do you get to visit them often?
Yes! I usually get over there about once a year.
So, what attracted you to 50onRed?
Historically, I’ve been with bigger, Fortune 500-type companies such as Alcoa, Reed Elsevier, and most recently eBay, so I’ve learned a lot from those experiences. For example, things that go well, things that don’t go well, things you should do, and things you absolutely should not do. I was ready to control all the different aspects and step away from having that corporate overlord.
This role was a great opportunity because it’s a company where I could come in and make an immediate impact and add some value pretty quickly. And also, I recognized right away that it’s a company perfectly positioned to take advantage of all the bright talent it’s already got in place.
Since getting here in May, what’s the thing you’ve liked best about working for 50onRed?
Well, for starters, I really like the company’s agility.
Be agile! That’s one of 50’s core values.
Yes! I’ve noticed we’re very quick in doing things—coming up with ideas and then quickly building them out. The small, core groups within the company allows for speed. At larger companies, processes tend to take much longer.
The other thing I really like about working for 50onRed is that it cares about its employees’ welfare. It ensures the benefits are rich, so employees don’t have to be concerned with health care. Also, I think it’s really nice that 50 likes to socially engage the entire company—whether it’s with the quarterly outings or even small events and get-togethers throughout the quarter—to keep people networking and learning from each other. I’ve found that, with successful companies, it’s not all about office meetings.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
Learning the technology. Specifically, keeping up with the team when we discuss new products they want to develop and understanding the best way to monetize them.
What are some of the tools that are vital to your work?
Excel. Larger companies usually have a bunch of different systems they use, but we’re still small enough that we can keep it simple. As complex as our products are, our P&L [Profit and Loss] is straightforward. One of the richest things we have at 50 is an incredible volume of data. A lot of companies don’t have that; they haven’t historically collected data or, if they do, they don’t use it in an effective way. Our challenge right now is figuring out how to best use and prioritise our data by distinguishing the insights from the noise. We don’t overcomplicate it with too many systems.
You’ve had a very impressive career, and there’s no doubt you’ve gathered a lot of experience over the years. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s just starting a career in finance?
When it comes to choosing one of your first jobs, it is incredibly important to consider who your direct manager is, because that’s who you’re going to learn the most from. If you don’t have a manager who understands how to mentor and teach someone, it’s going to slow you down, no matter how smart you are.
One thing I’d do when looking for a job was insist on meeting my peers so I could meet who I’d be working with. That way, I could determine if I had access to a strong manager, and I could also identify another mentor within the company; mentors don’t have to be senior to you. In the first five or six years while you’re still rapidly learning, you have to be surrounded by people who can help you.
We hear that you’re expecting! Congratulations! Do you know whether the baby is a boy or girl?
Have you picked out a name?
Yes. We think we have one picked out, but it’ll probably change as soon as he pops out! [laughs]