Ep. 174: Pedro Barros - Scaling and Managing a Successful Global Finance Team

Pedro Monteiro de Barros, VP of Finance at Remote, joins Count Me In to talk about how to build, scale, and manage a successful remote, global finance team. At Remote, he is responsible for analyzing financial performance for budgeting and forecasting, managing all accounting operations, and providing strategic guidance to accelerate business expansion. He started his career in investment banking and strategy in technology, media and telecommunications. Over the last five years Pedro has been focusing on high growth tech companies and was Head of Finance at Codacy. Download and listen now!

Welcome back to Count Me In,

IMA's podcast about all things affecting
the accounting and finance world.

This is your host Adam Larson and today
you are listening to episode 174 of our

series. In this episode,
you'll hear from Pedro Barros,

VP of Finance at Remote. At Remote,

Pedro was responsible for analyzing
financial performance for budgeting and

forecasting,

managing all accounting operations
and providing strategic guidance to

accelerate business expansion.
Over the last five years,

he has been focusing on high growth tech
companies and was previously Head of

Finance at Codacy. He joined Count Me
In to share his knowledge on building,

scaling, and managing a
successful global finance team.

So keep listening as we head
over to the conversation now.

So I understand Remote, your company
is growing very rapidly. And,

I'm just curious to kind of
kick off our conversation here.

How are you thinking about structuring
the finance team during this growth phase

and what are some of the key positions
or key areas within the finance team

you're really focusing on?

Thanks Mitchell.

I joined the team as the first
finance hire around two years ago,

and it's a team of over 50 people today.

I started the team top down,

so we really went for,
expertise and individuals

with, subject matter expertise. But,

it was a hard combination because we
also wanted folks that could settle in,

in well, in a very fast and growing,

entity company. And, we
found them like I've hired,

two or three directors that really
accelerated all the finance functions,

a Group Controller and a Treasurer. And,

a bit later than that, Director of Tax

and all of these individuals really,

really accelerated how the
finance function was structured,

how we were delivering to the business
and how the finance was partnering across

the organization.

And now I know we will talk a
little bit, you know, as far as,

scaling everything and how all this
ultimately plays out, you know,

for the finance function,

but as far as the individuals go and
as you're going through this hiring

process, you know,

for our listeners who maybe are looking
to jump into new finance roles and

things that are evolving across the
profession in various industries,

what are some of the qualities that you're
really looking for in a finance hire

and, you know, as everything is
growing so rapidly, you know,

a fast growing company like Remote,

what are some of the skills that
you're really, you know, targeting?

I touched,

on my previous question around
the deep subject matter expertise,

it's folks,

that can have a lot of
ownership in their role.

So someone that can
compliment what I'm doing and,

not necessarily build redundancy.

So having folks that have done it in
the past and can come very quickly,

has done and have a
high impact is critical.

Someone that can nurture teams, because
we knew at the place that we were going,

that we would have to
grow, teams very rapidly.

And at the same time,

we had to hire individuals that were very,

tech savvy on the aspect of automation
and how to make systems work for

them and not just grow the team to
address the growing pains and the growing

needs of the organization as
we're scaling very, very fast.

And you, you kind of just alluded
to it a little bit. but you know,

we were talking about
individuals, the finance team,

how does that really fit into
the overall organization? Right?

So what we're really trying to
figure out here is, you know,

how does Remote manage the company
culture and make sure that everybody,

you know, plays their part and,
fits in, in a cohesive team?

Yeah. On

your first point,

the finance team at Remote is a bit
different from many other organizations,

as we are core to a lot of the
product development that we do,

a lot of the services that
we provide. So we tend to,

it's a subject like global employment
is a subject is very close historically

with, finance teams.

And we have a lot of
expertise in the team to help

enable the overall company in terms
of how Remote culture is managed in

terms of fast growing and
how we can sustain it.

It was something that was designed
even before the company was

created, which were our values. Both
the Auburn, Marcel, our founders,

are very committed to the culture of
the company through values alignment.

We have a lot of cultural
diversity, as you can imagine,

by having folks in 60 plus countries
across the globe working for

us.

So our expectation is we'll have
a lot of cultural diversity,

but an ambition is that
folks will always work,

at Remote with deep values alignment.

And this goes with excellence
ownership, kindness.

It's one of the, I think
it's the glue of the company.

It is the value of kindness and
something I have to in terms of

automation and the
scalability of the business.

That's great. I know you, oftentimes
historically I think accounting,

finance teams, at least the perception
is they've kind of been siloed, right.

Kind of the smaller group,

you know, very focused on the numbers
and getting the job done, but, you know,

that has evolved so much.
And, companies like yours,

the finance function is really more
or less the backbone for everything.

And kind of, you know, what I've seen
through various conversations here,

you know,

the team that's really driving those
core values and just the cross-functional

collaboration, the finance team, and
those are the individuals who can really,

you know, portray those
values and gain support,

and really partner to bring the
business forward. So, I think, you know,

aligning core values like that is
certainly key. With that sentiment,

you know, the idea that,

global diversity and
following these values,

what else is it that
your company is doing,

that we can share with our listeners
that would help other accounting,

finance functions,
finance teams, you know,

grow and manage successfully like you
are, you know, on this global basis,

getting back to the topic here,

how can we help other accounting
and finance teams scale globally?

I think there are some fundamental
things that the Remote is doing well,

and it's working well, for us, in term
one is, the working asynchronously.

Means that you do your job and
you work whenever it fits you,

it fits your schedule. It fits your
motivation when you are stronger.

And it's not from not from nine
to five, or maybe it is, it's not,

it's independent from that.

It's much more focused on objectives
and not on the achievements more than

on activity per se. And, if
you are on, certain hours, and,

the way we are doing it, based a lot on,

documentation has managed
Remote to grow very, very fast.

Our finance team has grown massively and,

very successfully continues supporting
the business and delivering to our objec

tives. And I have folks from
Korea to San Francisco, and,

we are very much independent, from where,

anyone is because they,
they do their thing.

They understand what they need to do.

Their individual has a very clear
objectives and drive for excellence.

They take ownership on their projects
and, the work they need to do. And all

these documented when someone is asleep,
there's a document for me to act upon.

And next day,

that person is live at whatever
time and they can pick up on that.

So there's always this sense
of follow continuous work. What

Remote has also enabled in terms of,

global distributes companies is,

hiring the best individuals
anywhere in the world.

So subject folks have more expertise
in a subject, here or there,

or have been more face to fast
growing companies. For example, in US,

you have a lot of expertise
of individual that

have faced, the growth of,

companies on a very fast
scale. And we can hire them.

And we are very geography,
agnostic. Obviously we,

sometimes we need to hire for
certain geographies as an objective,

but where folks are it's up to them.

Before we get into the geographies
in the different countries.

I understand the continuous work and
the opportunity to work independently.

Is there ever a time when you
do have the whole team together,

are there certain points maybe
it's months, or, you know,

throughout the year that
regardless of where you are,

you try to get as many
people together as possible?

We thought about that March 2020, but,

has happened that it
didn't happen. Look, we

grew very, very fast.

So by the time all thought that the
pandemic was getting a bit slower and we

could potentially connect, like
the team was massively bigger,

different folks in different geographies
in the world were facing, challenges.

And, we are very respectful of
the needs of each one of us. And,

we are not going to, to ask anyone to,

to go through airport
trips when we're facing,

the heat of a pandemic.

Now we've grown to a size
where more likely we'll be

doing, team focused, get togethers in
real life, for example, finance team,

or a tech team and an FP&A team,

as it makes sense or some
geographical focused,

gettogethers but, in real life, it hasn't
happened at a large scale, what we do.

And I think there is a lot of
purpose when we do it, is, weekly,

all hands between the finance team. We

connect one on one, weekly,

at least so that at least we
direct managees and managers,

and sometimes some critical
stakeholders or individuals in the team

that are doing certain, certain projects
that require closer connection with,

each other. And, it's done
with a lot of purpose,

because when you decide to
go on a call with someone,

on a zoom video, it's to really,
understand what are their challenges,

how can you solve them if
it's a synchronous meeting

it's to ensure that, it's all
things are addressed there. And,

we do something that is also important
when you touch the in real life

is, in these one oh ones.

We try to connect as individuals like
work can be done in documents. But,

I try to spend time with my team
to like, let know how I'm going,

how things in my life are going
connect with my colleagues,

my manager, and others, how
things are going on their end,

and to be very frank, the connection
you have across the firm is very,

very strong, obviously by now, I
don't know everyone personally, but,

I still know a lot of people, directly.
And, we have a very close connection,

which is super interesting.

That's great. It's, you know,
a very compassionate culture.

It sounds like, and you know,

a very compassionate approach
to building the team. So,

I certainly appreciate that.

And then now taking a step back as
we were talking about, you know,

different geographies and the different
individuals that you're working with,

what kind of infrastructure, you
know, people, processes, systems,

do you look to build first, as you go
across, you know, different countries and,

how do you integrate these different
processes and such into the overarching,

you know,

finance function and tying back really
to those values and the goals of the

organization.

We have, an international expansion
team specialized in growing remotes and

while in most of the companies, you

internationalize for commercial reasons,

remote by default wants to be global
so we can cater for our customers. And,

not that we want to expand
to a certain country because

we have specific commercial needs
there, but we want to provide,

a global reach to everyone. So we are
expanding globally very, very fast.

And we have an international
expansion team,

very focused on setting
up these across the

group, understanding local
requirements, legal implications,

working with the tax team on
tax implications, et cetera.

And that's usually the first
couple of steps treasury as well,

setting up our banking
infrastructure locally.

We tend to work with some
of the largest global banks,

so that we can accelerate
also opening, locally as well.

And usually these are, the
first steps very quickly,

with the initiation of operations
in a country. We set up,

a local texting that we work
with usually outsourced with,

with one of our main
partners or local partner,

if they do not cover
that specific geography,

we have an ambition to bring
as much as possible in house,

so likely with time. And if
it's a major geography, we'll,

have that expertise in
house. In terms of system,

we have been implementing SAP since
we were 30 people in the company.

We did a very fast,
implementation of, 43 countries.

And now we are rolling out to over

the next year to 90 plus countries
with the vision of being in 150 plus

countries, very, very soon.
So on that, with that,

what we ensured with SAPs,
that we had a scalable,

highly collaborative and system with
a very good, expertise in, in the

space and, debt in box massively,

how we can scale our operations globally.

Now, as you scale and, you know, grow,

you go into these different geographies.

What is your approach to fundraising?
Would you recommend going with,

more opportunistic fundraising?

Is there any thing that you would consider
a benchmark or a line that you really

want to make sure you're following?

Remote has been very fortunate
that, we always attracted very,

very good investors to

the company. And we have been growing,
healthy, with their support and,

fundraising that's,

they have an investment
they have may be making in

the firm.

In terms of opportunistic fundraising,

if it makes sense, and you have,

an ambition and you know exactly
where you are heading and, you know,

you can make good use of
those funds. It makes sense,

but opportunity usually comes
from you being prepared with, so,

and if you're already
prepared to take action,

it means that there is an underlying
perception that will have good use for

it. You are open to it,
and you understand that,

by doing so you derisk the business,

you achieving your vision and
your mission. And, which usually

is a tool, and it's not,
an outcome, fundraising.

And I see it very much, in that way,

market dynamics sometimes are more
volatile or more unpredictable.

And if you secure now,

why should you be focusing on very
lengthy process in six months or

12 months from now,
instead of doing it, today,

obviously fundraising comes with dilution.

So it's always the other side
of the coin. And I think you,

as a leader in the firm finance, or, CEO,

or founders optimize for that, but,

usually that opportunistic fundraising
comes from you being already exposed and

open to it more than, oh, it happened.

Absolutely. And, you
know, I'd like to kind of

wrap up our conversation
today. as we, you know,

we're talking about building scaling,

managing successful
global finance team, and,

we addressed the independence
of individuals, and you know,

everybody working remotely for our
listeners and anybody who is interested

in scaling their business, or possibly
going to remote finance teams,

or still struggling with that aspect
of it following the last couple years,

what are just some considerations
or implications, you know,

that you would like to point out to
make sure that everybody is aware of,

you know, what goes into
a team such as yours?

I think there some fundamental points
that we touched earlier earlier

on which are, on the team
values on the team connection,

and because growing
internationally remote teams,

it's not easy, you must do it with
purpose and you must do it with care,

and understand that if you
are hiring individual that,

have the values alignment to succeed

in such an environment and in a
company that is working fully remote,

I think we have been
increasingly more exposed to it.

So which one of us is also learning
how to succeed in such an environment,

but, when, when you're growing our team,
that is a specific consideration that,

I would very, very much focus on.

Obviously then you have other
more infrastructure type of,

of considerations on
taxation of, individuals,

especially if they are nomad and
they are moving around the globe,

where are they going to pay their
taxes? Can you hire them locally?

Do you do it as a contractor because
it's really a contractor type of,

relationship or,

you by doing so you're exposing to
disqualification and you rather do

it as a permanent employee also for
equality between them and the rest

of your team that potentially are
headquarters or are working in a country

that you have established
operations. And, for companies,

this also opens the point
on permanent establishment,

which by having someone, operating,

on your behalf in another country,

do they increase the risk of the company
on permanent establishment or not?

And this is assessment that needs
to be done on a case by case basis,

almost just profile of the employee
that you hire remotely can,

trigger a higher risk of burn
establishment and maybe others that

are, seem to be similar to not.
And this should be assessed,

but is critical consideration that we
take when hiring someone internationally.

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