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The Role Forward

Jervis Williams on a 30-60-90 Plan for New Finance Leaders

In this episode of The Role Forward, Jervis Williams, the CFO of Second Front Systems, discusses his journey through various stints as a startup CFO. Jervis and our host Joe Michalowski walk through a 30-60-90 plan for new finance leaders to thrive in their roles.

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Episode Summary

How do you set yourself up for success in the first three months of a new finance leadership role?

This is a question Jervis Williams has had to ask himself on multiple occasions.

In this episode, our host Joe Michalowski speaks with Jervis Williams, the CFO of Second Front Systems. Jervis shares his experiences and lessons learned from his journey as a finance professional, particularly during his first 90 days as Second Front’s new CFO. He highlights the importance of establishing a solid finance team early on and engaging with stakeholders, including the board, to ensure a smooth onboarding process.

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Featured Guest

Jervis Williams

CFO, Second Front Systems

Jervis joins Second Front with over 25 years of finance leadership at public companies and venture-funded start-ups in the technology industry at leading companies such as Hughes Aircraft (F/A-18 Radar Systems Group), Apple, HP, Wind River, VMware and Citrix.

Most recently Jervis served as CFO for Legion Technologies where he led Finance, HR and IT. Prior to Legion, Jervis served as CFO at Metawave where in addition to leading Finance and CFO, he initiated the company’s foray into the defense market with a SBIR award from the Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime program.

Jervis earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his BA from UCLA.

Key Themes from the Episode
  • Bringing a finance professional on board as soon as possible helps keep an eye on spending, ensures accountability for budgets, and sets a tone for financial responsibility across the company. This discipline proves valuable internally and externally, attracting investors and building trust with stakeholders.
  • By being open to new opportunities and learning from each experience, Jervis has gained valuable skills and insights that have helped shape his current success. He encourages finance professionals to be adaptable and not to shy away from change, as it can lead to personal and professional development.
  • Having access to different perspectives and best practices can help individuals grow in their careers and make informed decisions.

Episode Highlights from Jervis Williams

5:34 — The Finance Professional’s Impact on Company Culture

In this part of the conversation, Jervis discusses how finance professionals can positively influence company culture by maintaining transparency, fostering collaboration, and setting a tone for financial responsibility. By working closely with other departments, finance teams can help build a culture of trust and unity across the organization.

“I think it’s important to have a strong working relationship with the rest of the company and not just be seen as the department that says no. It’s more about collaborating and being a part of the solution.”

14:23 — Learning from Failure and Adapting to Challenges 

Jervis shares his insights on learning from failure and embracing challenges in one’s career. He believes that setbacks are opportunities for growth and urges professionals to take these experiences as lessons to become better at what they do.

“I think it’s important to embrace the challenge, to learn from it, to be able to pivot and adjust, and I think that’s where the growth comes from. You don’t grow from just doing things that you know how to do.”

50:00 — The Stigma Against Job Hopping 

Jervis and Joe discuss the stigma around job hopping, arguing that being fluid in one’s career can actually accelerate personal and professional growth. Rather than seeing job hopping as a negative, they encourage listeners to view it as a path to learning and development.

“I have accelerated my career by being at three jobs in six years versus one job in six years. And I think that’s a really good way to look at it. Especially if anyone listening to this is thinking about moving on to a new role.”

Full Transcript