For Startups, What Makes a ‘Good’ CFO?

By Brian Garcia Brian Garcia has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on May 10, 2021

Executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company has worked with Cyclica Inc., a leading biotech firm focused on accelerating drug discovery through AI, to place its new Chief Financial Officer, Pratik Shah. A supporting player in the search was Drive Capital, a prominent venture capital fund out of Ohio that backs Cyclica. Since Drive’s inception in 2013, the firm has raised $1B of funds to invest in startups solving important problems in large markets.

Mr. Shah brings a strong corporate finance and financial reporting background to Cyclica with a number of publicly traded companies in the pharmaceutical, technology and cannabis sectors, along with extensive valuation expertise. Mr. Shah is a CPA and a Chartered Business Valuator, with a unique educational background combining biotechnology and accounting.

As CFO, Mr. Shah will be responsible for translating the company’s business model and strategy into a compelling financial narrative, as well as scaling up the company’s accounting and finance infrastructure to meet the needs of a high growth organization.

Cyclica is developing a broad portfolio of pre-clinical and clinical assets in the biotech space through an innovative, decentralized partnership model. According to Jay Rosenzweig, CEO of Rosenzweig & Company, “This required a CFO who was comfortable building out a finance function in a rapidly growing organization where integration of reporting across multiple entities was going to be critical. At the same time, the ideal candidate needed to have expertise in evaluating and undertaking complex transactions, ideally in the pharmaceutical space.”

“No two CFO searches are the same,” said Mr. Rosenzweig, “and this one was no exception. The role required someone with a unique combination of skills and experience. As a firm, we have the capability in situations like this to undertake what we call a discovery search, where we bring in best-in-class representatives from several categories of candidates with specific mixes of expertise and experience.  In speaking with these representative candidates, it rapidly becomes clear to clients the ideal balance they need to address the key challenges they are facing.”

Naheed Kurji, CEO of Cyclica observes that Cyclica is “a highly technical company with an innovative business model that puts a lot of pressure on the finance function, both in terms of the demands on reporting and the range of transactions we entertain. We have also built a distinctive culture that we feel works well for us as a business. As a former CFO myself, my standard for the search was high. Rosenzweig was able to bring in a range of topnotch candidates, which we narrowed to two who were both exceptional. Making the final choice was difficult, but through the rigorous process we engaged in it became clear that Pratik was the right fit. Having that kind of certainty is critical in a hire like this, at this stage in the business’ development. We are thrilled to welcome him to the company “

Cyclica is the partner of choice for data-driven drug discovery, advancing molecules that embrace the complexity of disease. The company’s computational approach to polypharmacology is unique in the industry. It uses a proteome-wide lens to evaluate multiple novel and rare on and off-target interactions simultaneously. Cyclica is the only company of its kind that integrates science to advance molecules downstream. A structure-based view keeps the work accountable to biology, chemistry, physics, and genomics.

Rosenzweig & Company is a firm with deep expertise in designing, building and attracting world-class executive teams. It was described by Hunt Scanlon as the leading high-end search boutique internationally.

Mr. Rosenzweig, the founding partner of the firm, is an internationally renowned social impact entrepreneur, humanitarian, trained lawyer, and leadership strategist. He consults to public and private companies, including large global corporations, emerging growth to mid-sized businesses, professional services firms, and private equity and venture capital firms.

By Brian Garcia Brian Garcia has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Brian Garcia is a contributor to Grit Daily. On staff, he handles tech and branding for Grit Daily. He is an internet rock star in front-end web development, user experience/interface, digital marketing.

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