It was at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, during 1986 to 1990, while studying a BS in Finance and International Management that I first became friends with Michael Baum.
We lost touch for a few years after studying, but reacquainted after bumping into each other on the streets in San Francisco, where we both live, sometime in 2002, and got talking about working together. Little did I know then what we would eventually accomplish, first with FOUNDER.org and now with Château de Pommard.
While Michael went into entrepreneurial innovation and data tech after university, I followed my own path into finance, first working for Infoseek, Propel, Pharsight, Greenberg and then Financial Executives International (FEI). Today, FEI is recognized globally as the leading organization for senior-level financial executives.
My love affair for my work kicked into gear when I started and operated my own company, which I did with Seybold Financial Group, from 2008 to 2015. This was my ambition: to be a strategic finance and operations executive with a passion for guiding company founders’ plans and provide finance consulting services to early stage companies in technology, life sciences, and marketing services.
It was in 2014 that Michael and I began to work on two separate, but linked, projects together. First, FOUNDER.org in San Francisco. Since its inception, FOUNDER.org has developed a new model for building and funding impactful companies to solve the planet’s biggest, and most-challenging, problems. Every year we choose 50 of the most innovative start-ups we can find, from top universities around the world, and award them with funds to start them on their way to success, a goal that we know will one day benefit everyone. It was my role to work intensely with each team for 12 months to build a sustainable foundation for growth based on company-building science that I devised.
My job was to develop and manage relationships with key administrators, faculty, on-campus incubators, and student entrepreneurship club leaders to help recruit the strongest founders each year, assess company pitches for inclusion in the FOUNDER.org program, and further negotiate investment deal terms and initiate relationships with other early-stage investors.
Today, most of my day is divided between FOUNDER.org and Château de Pommard, where I am Chief Financial Officer. I joined Michael for his Burgundy adventure, at the start, to provide transition support for new ownership when Michael first purchased the property from the Giraud family. Now, I oversee the overall financial operations of the winery and the wine distribution. My role at the Château is to link the team’s grand ambitions with realistic expectations, to ensure the smooth financial operations of the estate with the aspiration of providing profits that we can filter back into the wine, winemaking and Clos Marey-Monge, ultimately safeguarding the future of the Château for a few more generations. Of course, that all sounds very grand, but its a great place to start!
I aspire to streamline this 300-year-old business, by looking for areas to improve financial growth, and provide counsel to the executive team’s master plans, which all sound very exciting – and ambitious! My dream is to help turn Château de Pommard into the No.1 place to visit in Burgundy, not just for the wine (which, one you’ve tasted it, will be easy) but for the whole property too. We’re so much more than a winery and a business – we’re a location and a vocation. With our dream plans for the future set in motion – and soon to become a reality – there will be many more financial factors to focus on, but it’s exciting to see all our ideas come together. Long may I continue to call Pommard my home away from home.
With the implementation of new sales and finance systems and new operational ideas rolling out throughout 2017, there is a lot to keep us all busy. When I’m not at my desk, or on a plane, or working in Pommard, I spend my down-time with my wife and children in San Francisco. This usually revolves around eating and watching whatever my family want to watch on the TV. If I have a glass of Clos Marey-Monge 2008 in my hand too, then I couldn’t be happier.