The Role of the Controller in a Life Sciences Company Has Transformed – Will You Be Left Behind?
The life sciences sector is growing rapidly and this presents increased demands and new challenges for today’s controller. Many companies in this industry have taken advantage of opportunities in the market to raise capital and engage in M&A/licensing activities. Here are five ways to win in today’s Life Sciences sector as a controller:
Time Management – Given the additional roles that many controllers are being asked to assume, one of the biggest challenges is how to effectively manage expectations and time. No longer is the controller spending all their time reconciling accounts and reporting financials. Now the expectation is that controllers are spending their time assisting on licensing deals, supporting M&A activities, and reporting results directly to the CEO. Today’s controller is spending up to 50% of their time outside of their traditional financial reporting duties.
Analysis is Key – Gone are the days of just reporting on the company’s financials. Today’s controller must know the numbers and be responsible for analyzing what those numbers mean while effectively communicating the results to the CFO and CEO. In addition, the expectations of the CFO and CEO is that the controller will be prepared to offer a solution or advise on the best course of action based on the analysis of the data. It is all about what more you can bring to the table and, ultimately, the value-add to the company.
Understand the Business – The controller of today must understand the big picture of the company. What is that company trying to achieve? What is the company’s short term and long term plans? What is the growth strategy? Is there an exit in the future? This knowledge is imperative for controllers to bring into their analysis of the business.
Technology Experts – Technology is rapidly changing. Controllers who adapt and embrace the best reporting and analysis tools will stay ahead of the pack. We are in a time where the amount of data we collect and can access can be overwhelming. Controllers need to be able to use the right technology to sort the data and analyze it in the most efficient way possible. Without the right technology, you will be left behind.
Be as Efficient as Possible – We are in a period where many life sciences companies have benefited by positive trends in the industry, and have raised capital or are considering a capital raise. Either way, many companies have stayed lean and have continued focus on controlling expenses and managing cash flow. Controllers, who are the backbone of many successful finance departments, are being asked to do more with less. Learning to manage these expectations is key to furthering your career while contributing to the success of the company.
A financial controller is no longer expected to merely handle accounting issues. They must be an all-around performer. Controllers must have an adequate understanding of the company, the industry, and the expectations that C-suite executives have of them. This is necessary for today’s controllers to stay relevant, and increase their standing in their company by providing value-added ideas.