CFOville

The skill CFOs need for success

Built’s CFO prepared for the role by becoming more influential.
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Kemp

· 3 min read

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CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.

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.

Sam Kemp recently took his first CFO role at construction finance platform Built Technologies. He spoke with CFO Brew about what drew him to work for Built and how he prepared for a CFO role.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

This is your first time as a CFO. How did you prepare for that role?

In the process of evolving toward what I always wanted to do, which was be a CFO, I left Wall Street and then joined GoDaddy, first in a corporate finance role and then more of a strategic and operational role. It was important for me to get outside of that traditional finance skill set and challenge myself to be influential.

What advice would you give someone who aspires to become a CFO?

Most people don’t realize that numbers have soul. If you want people to move in a direction, you need to bring the context along with the numbers. Be able to lead beyond having the right answers on numbers. There are CFOs that view their job as being a brute-force operator—somebody that forces people into structures. In that process, you lose belief in people that you’re leading, and you lose a lot of leverage.

What’s one skill you have that makes you successful as a CFO?

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.

The biggest one is being able to connect our business model to our operational drivers and our operational drivers to our financials—being able to think about those things in one cohesive view as well as at a very granular level.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s going to sound corny, but connecting investor outcomes, customer outcomes, and employee outcomes in a way that’s meaningful. Most people think about those three stakeholders as being in conflict with each other. But the reality is a lot of the time they’re much more compounding on each other and complementary of each other. You can create these great “spiral upward” moments.

What’s something about you that we wouldn’t guess from your LinkedIn profile?

Maybe at the simplest level, pure passion. When I was growing up, I did a lot of contractor-style work: general construction, electrical and plumbing work at a family business. The reason I came to Built was my love of construction and the fact that I can nerd out on construction science for an embarrassingly long amount of time.

What’s on the agenda for Built in 2024?

In the US, we have somewhere around 3 million too few housing units. We have a chronic issue with not being able to build things fast enough for our population. Built is working on a number of product initiatives to enable funds to flow more quickly to where the actual work gets done.

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.