B4Plastics Team

A day in the life of: B4Plastics’ CFO

March 29, 2022

As part of our series about the daily work of B4P employees, today we interviewed one of our board executives.

 

Background Brecht Verduyn

Brecht Verduyn (47, Belgian) has a background in Applied Economics (KULeuven). During the first 10 years of his career, he worked as an analyst & controller for PricewaterhouseCoopers (Audit), for ventures of the Mitiska Group (Investment company) & for Roularta Media Group. Since 2008, he is an independent entrepreneur & co-founder of several ventures (in content marketing, business intelligence software,…). Next to that, he is also author of the book “Het Cashkompas”. Brecht joined B4Plastics as CFO and co-entrepreneur.

Q. How did you get into a career as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in the New Plastics Economy?

I was in the same class of Stefaan (B4P’s founder and director) in high school, more than 25 years ago. We got in touch again via LinkedIn, when one of the conditions of the European Investment Council (EIC) fund to invest was having a CFO on board. I’m a firm believer of the fact that CFO’s should be CVO’s (chief value officers), taking into account not just financials but also the broader ‘value’ impact – People, Planet, Profit. That is why I was immediately very attracted to the mission, vision and rebellious character of B4Plastics.

Q. Describe your typical working day at B4Plastics.

I’m fading out of another CFO job, while jumping into the B4P Team, so my typical day at B4Plastics is actually very a-typical. It is a combination of meetings, elaborating plans, policies or processes and getting things done. I have strategic orientation meetings with Stefaan, tactical meetings with banks and potential investors or with other expert stakeholders (legal, accounting, …). I have internal meetings on i.e. the accounting & reporting processes and the organizational development. I create financial models, set up strategic plans, organize budgets and I build online workspaces. As you can see, it is very versatile yet always challenging.

Q. What are the skills you need to have to excel as a CFO in a scale-up company?

You need a combination of broad yet in-depth financial skills, such as planning and control, corporate finance, analytic accounting, cashflow management, business intelligence & data. But even more, as CFO, you need the right ‘personal skills’. For me, that means for example being entrepreneurial, pragmatic and solution oriented. You need to master a good balance between strategic thinking & hands-on operations or between the ‘making things happen & getting things done’ mentality. And last but not least, you need to be a bridge builder and be open-minded, as I’m also responsible for other ‘support or staff’ functions such HR & IT. So it is not all about €’s 😊.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

In the Finance area we have 3 clear objectives:

  1. Make sure B4Plastics has a comfortable cash position to execute the plan & mission, while taking care of a good balance between financial return on investment (ROI), for the current/future shareholders, & sustainability/impact goals.
  2. Become/Create a trustworthy and pro-active financial & value compass for internal & external stakeholders.
  3. Set-up and maintain a reliable, future-proof & highly efficient administrative back-bone i.e. tools, processes, …

In general: the key challenge is the equilibrium between short term actions and long term strategic evolution and finding a good balance between facts/figures and culture/people/values.

Q. What keeps you motivated to go into work every day?

I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and venturing. The fact that I can operate in a ‘venture’ mode every day with a very talented team and a visionary founder, is both on an intellectual level as on a personal level stimulating. But even more important is the fact that this ‘venturing’ happens in a context of very progressive vision and creating real impact for the planet. This keeps me going, even when there are though days or moments.

Q. What advice would you give someone considering a management career in the New Plastics Economy?

As I’m fairly new, I’ll let you know next year 😉.

 

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