10 Questions for Opera Solutions CFO Rob Bothe
Name: Rob Bothe
Time with company: 7 years
Education: Rutgers University
Company headquarters: New York City
Revenue: More than $100 million
Countries: U.S., U.K., France, China, India
Number of employees total: More than 400
Number of the CFO's direct reports: About 30-35
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I started out at Ernst & Young. I was there for about four or five years and then where I went from there is an interesting story. I was actually being recruited by one of my accounts at Ernst & Young. My dad had an accounting business and my mom intervened and said, "My son cannot move away." So I worked for my father's firm for about 11 years. I left the family owned business to come to a startup. I got the blessing [to do that] -- you know how it is with an Italian mother.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
It's twofold -- my father [Robert Bothe] and our current CEO [Arnab Gupta] are very similar, both very hard-driving, laser-focused; end results are the main thing. They have a very fact-based approach to decision-making -- quick, concise decision-making. It was an easy transition going from a family owned business to working here. He [Gupta] does treat a lot of people like family.
3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?
It comes down to two key things.
Our model is very flexible, so it comes down to hiring and the level of financial safety we need to come down to and to open up the path so that we keep adding, adding, adding and being able to look down the path, six months down the road. I think that's a little harder than it used to be. We're in a pretty big growth spurt right now.
There's so much uncertainty -- very broad based -- right now on what direction various governmental entities are going in, what laws are going to be passed [that affect companies]. There's too much uncertainty -- the waters haven't calmed yet. We're global, so things that happen in one country have a ripple effect.
4. What is a good day at work like for you?
I will tell you this without batting an eye -- I have the greatest job in the world. A typical day for me starts in the gym in the morning, where I get going, and then I will literally go nonstop for 10 or 11 hours. Our growth that we're going for -- a little bit of a metamorphosis we're going through -- has us really going, the momentum is really high. The days aren't long enough, believe it or not.
5. How would you characterize your management style?
My style is adapted to the way we are here. We're a very fast-moving organization. As a result, it's a get-with-the-flow or get-out-of-my-way approach, as harsh at that may sound. Decisions need to be made very quickly here, all fact-based. Everything has a schedule and a time. As harsh as it may sound, either you're with it or you're not. But with my team, I let them build and create value -- as long as things get done, I don't care how they do it.
6. What strengths/qualities do you look for in job candidates?
I look for people who are self-starters and not afraid to take risks. Being a little bit of a risk taker in the finance industry tells me about the individual -- that they're not afraid to make mistakes, they're trying to drive value and create growth.
7. What are some of your favorite interview questions or techniques to elicit information to determine whether a candidate will be successful at your company?
There's one thing I like to do, and I pride myself on being able to read people and judge them quickly -- I like making solid eye contact and to not really participate that much in the dialogue, to see how the individual can think on their feet, to make the situation a little more pressure-filled. And then as it flows, to see if they use something other than the typical interview lingo.
8. What sort of answers send up red flags for you and make you think a job candidate wouldn't be a good fit?
It's actually two things, it's the breaking of the eye contact and reaching for an answer that doesn't flow naturally. The standard check-the-box interview answer says that somebody doesn't know what they're talking about. I look to have a conversation and it doesn't have to be this standard interview format.
9. What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?
I try to get home and spend as much time with my family as possible. I have three relatively small children and I enjoy their time very much. Of course, there's the obligatory golf on the weekend.
10. If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd probably be doing one of two things -- involved politically in some form or fashion or [I'd take] more the charity route.