Industry Immersion: Training Tech CFOs of the Future
Chief Finance Officers share career advice and M&A case studies
UC Davis alumnus Brian Moriarty calls himself the custodian and protector of his company’s assets.
As CFO for the small biotech startup twoXAR, Inc., Moriarty lays out his case for why being a tech finance chief is so “awesome.” When it comes to accounting, insurance, HR, taxes and legal questions, he says he has to be the subject expert.
Moriarty is also part of the leadership team that is bringing to market the new drugs that twoXAR is discovering through cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies.
“It’s a constant learning curve and a rollercoaster,” he tells students in the CFO for Technology Industry Immersion on February 2. “You’re literally the source of a lot of information.”
After Moriarty ticks through his many CFO roles involving mergers and acquisitions, he dives into the live case study: “Since acquisitions cost billions of dollars, what motivates a company to acquire?” Hands go up and the classroom comes to life.
“He’s very humble to say that he’s working at a small startup,” says Immersion student Kirti Adlakha MBA 18. “But it’s a small startup that’s doing amazing work.”
serial acquirers need to be serial Integrators
Following Moriarty, David Cole, vice president of financial operations and acting head of M&A integration at Intuit, outlines what success looks like from an acquisition point of view. He notes that 70 to 90 percent of companies fail to meet that bar.
“When you’re a company that’s a serial acquirer,” he says, “you need to be a serial integrator.”
Cole defines his strategy for integration at Intuit and presents the class with a case study. He challenges the students to think more broadly about the key elements of an integration process and what they should look like in order to “make sure the systems all work together.”
Most recently, Intuit announced in December the $340 million acquisition of TSheets, a leading employee time tracking solution and already an established partner with Intuit’s QuickBooks ecosystem.
A few minutes into his conversation, Cole pauses for a new visitor. Cole’s daughter, a junior at UC Davis and one of the reasons he became interested in the management school, comes in and offers a quick “Hi” while taking a seat. Cole, newly energized, continues the discussion of his life’s work.
“When I learned about the course, I thought it was very interesting the way it brings together real-life experiences with the academic class of a graduate school of business,” Cole says of the Immersion course. “It’s important that students get some insight into what goes on in the real world.”
For Brian Moriarty B.A. 85, the campus connection runs even deeper. Moriarty’s time at UC Davis ironically overlapped with that of John Foraker B.S. 86, one of the day’s speakers for the Food and Ag Immersion and former CEO of Annie’s as well as current CEO of Once Upon a Farm. Bringing back to UC Davis what he gained throughout his career has meant a lot to Moriarty.
“I love to be able to talk about subjects that I’m passionate about,” Moriarty says.