Lena Loiberg, VP of Finance at Melio, discusses the importance of automation and integrated tech tools for finance teams, how Covid accelerated the digitization of payments across industries, and the unique joys of working inside the finance department at a growing FinTech company.
Lena Loiberg joined Melio as Head of Finance in February 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything.
Lena arrived with a background in finance at companies like PwC, Mobileye, and Jelly Button, ready to build out a team and help lead Melio into its next phase of growth. Within weeks, however, she was forced to adjust every plan she had for the business to account for the external circumstances changing the world as we knew it.
During her tenure, Melio’s B2B payments platform has increased its monthly processing volumes by 5,000%. Simultaneously, she has spearheaded four separate funding rounds totaling $488M and culminating in a $4B valuation.
Lena is extremely passionate about finance, and she derives a tangible joy from being in the unique position of working for the finance department within a hyper-growth FinTech company. She believes firmly in the value of data, automation, and integration of tools for finance teams, and invests heavily in technology and people to help Melio continue its upward trajectory.
Tune into this episode of The CFO Playbook to hear Lena discuss how Melio has matured its finance processes, where she’s finding opportunities to integrate and automate her processes, which tech tools she’s investing in, and the advice she has for aspiring finance executives.
Name: Lena Loiberg
What She Does: Lena Loiberg is the VP of Finance at Melio, a $4B international B2B payments platform based in Israel.
Key Quote: “Automation is probably the key for efficiency and for having more time to deal with strategy and the real interesting analytics of the business; for going deep and really having time to do bigger things.”
Where to find Lena: LinkedIn
Flexibility is key
If the last 18 months have taught Lena anything, it’s that you never know what the future holds. You have to be willing and able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. All her ideas and goals for the business were put on hold when Covid hit, just weeks after she joined Melio. Now, Lena’s advice for aspiring finance executives is to remain flexible and patient. Circumstances change, and holding rigidly to your preconceived ideas doesn’t serve you or the business.
Automate and Integrate as much as you can
The more you can automate the menial tasks and use technology to integrate different tools so that information is at your fingertips in real time, the more you can free up bandwidth to think strategically about the business and put your efforts towards initiatives that help the company grow. Investing in these processes takes time and sometimes a herculean effort, but the long-term payoff is worth the short-term pain.
There is one single source of truth: money in the bank
Of course finance teams are forecasting and modeling before every decision they make. But at the end of the day, these are estimations that often rely on data from the past to help predict the future. When something like Covid happens, the future no longer behaves like the past did. Money in the bank becomes the most important data point whose future effect can be predicted. Beyond that, you need to be paying attention to the market and the trends that will affect your industry and your product so you can adjust your forecasting accordingly.
If you love finance, work at a FinTech company!
At Melio, finance truly has a seat at the table. It permeates every aspect of the business and every department. Lena and her team get to be involved in product discussions and other parts of the company where finance does not typically have a voice. If you love finance, it’s a great feeling to work at a place where every part of the company revolves around finance.
“The first time [fundraising] was scary and it was like, wow, how do you even approach it? But since then...We have our procedures, and everything is already in place. There is nothing that is a surprise...We were born prepared, this is how I feel right now. And it's a great position to be.”
“I have these dreams about ‘We can do this and that and that.’ But sometimes you need to centralize and understand that you cannot do everything that has to do with finance, because there are so many things that you can do. So you need to be focused on the company's mission and understand the company's needs and goals.”
“[The changes brought on by Covid were] think the most challenging thing that could've happened to me, or perhaps the most challenging thing that will happen to me in my whole career. You need to think and rethink how you're going to do things. So you obviously work extremely hard. You try to get people around you to be the most engaged they can...you need everybody to be on board and to be aligned.”
“We are about 50% female, 50% male...I really believe that Melio is looking at the people themselves, and our culture is really important...I do think that at Melio as a company, it's the nature. It's not somebody enforcing a hiring agenda. The nature of the people is great.”
“My biggest advice is to be patient. And to understand the position of the company you started at. Because if I was focused on my initial plan when I started at Melio, I would have been frustrated all day long…[But] you need to understand that life is flexible and that companies are not in the situation you wish them to be. Things take time. Processes take time. Education takes time.”
“The future is here...People want data. A Lot of departments, they want to know where they are at. How much budget do I have left? Where am I compared to the budget? What is the situation?...And if you want to be a good business partner...providing the data in such a real time way, it's really great.”
“Every year in every company, forecasting is something that brings a lot of estimations. But you go and you talk to your leaders, you talk to the department VPs, you try to go into their plans, their heads, how they're planning for the year. And you try to take several approaches. Both bottom up and top down to understand where are we aiming? But then reality is much stronger than all of us and all numbers. So you hope to get better and better at forecasting. But there is one source of truth, which is money in the bank.”
“When I started at Melio, my mind was blown away. Every hallway talk I heard, I wanted to just jump in and listen, because everything is finance. It's finance all over the place. And even the developers, they're talking about some kind of feature, okay, that’s finance. Product people, finance. Everybody's talking finance. It was so interesting for me.”
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