CFOville

My first day: INSHUR’s CFO

Clayton Carol shares his approach to starting out on the right track.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

This is part of our occasional series on CFOs’ first day on their current job.

INSHUR has its destination set, and has brought on Clayton Carol to help it navigate there successfully.

Carol joined the managing general agent (MGA), which provides insurance to rideshare drivers, in December as its first-ever CFO. He’ll be taking on what he said includes the “full suite” of strategic finance and accounting responsibilities. He has served as finance chief at other early stage companies and also has 20 years of investment banking experience under his belt.

With that background, Carol said he brings to the role “more of a strategic finance lens,” which, in his view, means “really thinking about the business, the segment you’re in, and how to position the business to create the most value in that plan—period—with the resources you have.”

Carol joined the growth-stage company amid its mission to expand nationwide. Right now, it operates in a small handful of states, primarily in New York. Carol said the rollout to additional states will occur “throughout the year.”

Revving up. Carol said he prepared for the role in two ways, starting with immersing himself in the insurance industry. He said he read resources including public filings and research reports.

“I’m not new to growth-stage startups but I’m new to the insurance industry,” he noted.

The second thing Carol did was reach out to his network of finance leaders in similar roles for advice. He asked what they might do in their first two to three months in the role.

“Tapping into more knowledge is always better,” he said. Talking to people from outside the company, he said, also helped keep him from getting “bogged down in the details.”

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“I think it grounds you in keeping you focused on more of a strategic mission when you talk to outsiders, because they’re not going to be able to help you [with specific data or calculations],” he said. “[They’ll] help you keep focused on the big picture, and they can utilize their experiences.”

Taking off. When the time came to get behind the wheel as INSHUR’s first CFO, Carol went through many of the motions any CFO might expect when first joining the company. He met with company leadership and management to get up to speed and jumpstart those working relationships.

Carol stressed that relationship-building is a two-way street. Newcomers to any role may often hear the advice to “listen, listen, listen,” he said, but it’s also important to share the experience and perspective you’re bringing to the table. ”Yes, you want to listen,” he said, “but you want to also tell people about yourself, your experiences, and your focuses, to the extent you have them.”

New CFOs may be tempted to hold off on voicing opinions when they first start, but they should make sure they’re asking a lot of questions and guide discussions toward the important topics, Carol advised. Especially if you’re the first CFO of a company, “I think people want you to have an opinion,” he said. Even early in your tenure, he said, you can “bring that focus and that value orientation that may not have been in the room,” he said—which, after all, is why your organization brought you on as 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.