Healthcare technology company OODA Health has named Brian Meewes its first CFO-COO. Meewes will work at OODA Health’s San Francisco headquarters.
OODA hired Meewes in the dual role as business hits a fever pitch amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "Brian is a seasoned executive who brings many years of financial and operational experience that will help us immensely," Giovanni Colella, OODA Health co-founder and co-CEO, said in a statement. "As we position OODA to rapidly grow and further penetrate our target markets, he will help us scale our operations and reach."
Meewes previously headed finance and growth operations at Alto Pharmacy, which he helped grow tenfold and improved gross margins by over 40%, according to OODA. Prior to Alto, Meewes led finance at Amazon's fulfillment center and worldwide supply chain analytics.
Meewes does not expect his CFO-COO job to depart materially from his previous roles, he told CFO Dive on Tuesday. "My role at Alto introduced me to the complexities of healthcare, and at Amazon, I supported operationally complex businesses that were driving innovation for consumers," he said.
His experience at Amazon will help him manage as he adds the operational duties of COO to his financial duties, he said.
"I was raised on the Amazon model, in which finance leaders are expected to operate, or at least be capable of operating, as a CFO-COO," he said. "The additional scope requires a far deeper understanding of how all of the inputs of the business directly drive the desired financial outputs."
The element of the expanded CFO-COO role he finds most energizing is the direct responsibility and accountability for "building and inspiring" the operational team. "I see the majority of operationally complex businesses, like DoorDash, Opendoor, Airbnb, and Robinhood, now hiring former Amazon finance leaders to play CFO roles that encompass more operational duties," he said.
Despite his 100% virtual onboarding, Meewes says his introduction to his new company has been "fantastic," which he credits to OODA’s high-frequency Zoom engagement, quick responses and flexibility, and clear commitment to investing in his getting up the learning curve as quickly as possible.
To get a handle on the company’s financials, Meewes has a several-step plan in place.
"I will use our financial model to work backwards from the desired outcomes for 2020 and 2021 to all of the critical inputs required for us to achieve our goals," he said. "Within 30 days, my goal is to have a comprehensive understanding of those inputs, including the status of current bookings, pipeline, critical product development needs, operational efficiency requirements, unit economics, fixed investments, and cash conversion cycle. And financial controls, to ensure accurate cash flow forecasting."
Then, he will build relationships with his finance team, co-create a revised H2 operating plan as needed, and quickly identify areas where he can "roll up his sleeves and help execute."
"From a leadership perspective, it is always so critical to invest in relationships early to create a culture that enables trust, candor, truth seeking, and rapid learnings and growth, both professionally and personally for everyone on the team," he said. "Ultimately, this comes down to sharing your own vulnerability. I start by sharing my latest performance review and the areas that I am working to improve."
Meewes says the startup industry has had a long stretch of "growth-at-all-costs," where financial discipline may have been less critical to high-growth businesses.
"That stretch is officially over, and in this challenging time, CFOs have an incredible opportunity," he said. "If you don’t think there’s an opportunity to completely transform the financial health of your business, and exit this situation far better off, you’re probably missing something. Keep looking!"