Coworking with Francois Chadwick

CFO of Shield AI
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· 3 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and other leaders in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. To be considered, answer a few quick questions for us here and we’ll be in touch if we want to feature you in the newsletter.

Francois Chadwick is the chief financial officer of Shield AI, a defense technology company that builds AI pilots for aircraft.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in finance?

A large part of the job of the CFO is rooted in educating people about the business and the technical details that matter, using clear and simple communication. There is an imperative to connect with audiences and stakeholders from all different parts of the business’s ecosystem—whether that be investors, teams, the media, governments, and regulators. CFOs have the responsibility to help their intended audience understand both the financial and strategic implications of business decisions.

The same principles apply to efficiently scaling a business. Our new team members need to get up to speed on the business to be able to meaningfully contribute as soon as possible.

What’s something we wouldn’t be able to tell from your LinkedIn profile?

Something you can’t guess about my job from my LinkedIn profile is that I’m a Scouts leader. I lead a group of 60 scouts (boys and girls) ranging from the ages of 11–18. This allows me to use my CFO skills to help develop future leaders from a young age. The Scout motto is “Be prepared,” a fitting motto for all CFOs.

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What advice do you have for future CFOs?

My advice is to make sure you have spent time with every single department in your company. Be a continuous student of the business, and the industry. Take time to get to know your team members and what their roles entail. Understand what drives trends in the business, what your company’s customers care about, what the market is saying about your industry. When I took this phenomenal opportunity at Shield AI, I had to dive in very quickly to understand government accounting and regulations. My final piece of advice is to never be afraid of learning new skills.

Who’s a CFO you admire or you try to model yourself after?

A CFO I try to model myself after is Nelson Chai, who is the CFO at Uber. What I learned from Nelson in my time working with him is that the decisions you make may not always be the most popular. As a leader, it is important to give stakeholders a chance to contribute and state their point of view, but ultimately, as the CFO, you need to make the decision and own your choice.

If you weren’t a CFO you would be... ?

If I weren’t a CFO, I would be an investor and a board member. Throughout my entire career, I’ve spent time analyzing, advising, and structuring businesses all over the world in various sectors from tech to consumer goods to entertainment. I’ve worked with various companies over the years in this capacity and really enjoy the continuous learning that comes with these roles.—KT

News built for finance pros

The latest news and insights corporate finance professionals need to know to keep up with their constantly evolving industry.