CFO as organizational enabler

Sinohe Terrero is the CFO of Envoy.
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Sinohe Terrero

· 4 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. Let us know if you are—or you know—a CFO we should interview.

Sinohe Terrero is the CFO and COO of Envoy, a workplace management platform. He spent five years as VP of finance and analytics at Etsy, along with a variety of CFO roles.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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

I’m the enabler who helps get things done. My No. 1 job is figuring out how to enable everyone else to do their job. People typically think of a CFO as strictly finance, but in my role, I like to embed finance within operations. This means collaborating with other departments in the organization whether it’s marketing, product, or sales. My role could be best described as a partner.

What’s your favorite piece of technology as a CFO?

Anything related to data analytics. When I worked at Etsy in 2008, we had no data scientists. The company was growing and scaling rapidly, but much of our decision-making was based on gut instinct. We knew that in order to better prioritize our initiatives, we needed to operate differently.

Within a year, we built a best-in-class data team to quantify the impact of our work—and it was the data team’s job to help our solutions and marketing teams think through ROI and metrics. Some were resistant but in time we were able to help them better understand their funnels, conversions, and how their work fit with the rest of the forecast.

It turns out that at my current company Envoy, we not only use our own data as a guide, but we help our customers understand exactly what’s happening across their workplaces and properties. The goal is to make sure organizations have accurate data to justify their operational spend, or optimize space to reduce costs, or even identify where budget or space can be allocated more effectively.

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What’s something we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile?

One of the surprising things about my role is how involved I am with employee relations and resolving any issues that arise. I like to say that I’m the guy that knows everything that isn’t working within the organization.

What advice do you have for future CFOs?

I’d advise CFOs to make finance an integral part of their company’s operating fabric. The best thing they can do is embed themselves in areas outside of finance because that is the clearest path to credibility.

Another trick to being successful is to build trust. I call it the “butter and knife” approach. When you are in a position that forces you to say “no” a lot, you have to butter people up and earn trust before you poke them. A “no” coming from a trusted source will be received differently than a “no” from someone you don’t trust.

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

There have been a few CFOs that have taught me important lessons. One that stands out is John McCarthy, a very successful fractional CFO based in New York. He was a part-time CFO when I joined Etsy and the biggest lesson I learned from him was to not over-complicate a business. He broke down Etsy’s business into four main drivers, and everything else moved those drivers. I’ve never forgotten the elegance and simplicity of that, and I keep that in mind to this day.

You’ve got a weekend totally free to do whatever you want: Where do you go and what do you do?

If I had a weekend to do anything, you’d find me on a trail somewhere hiking with my family and our dog. I would also try to squeeze in a tech podcast or possibly listen to an audiobook, anything sci-fi.

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