That experience helped shape my career.
In college, I chose to study accounting rather than pursue a career as a professional athlete. I was running near-Olympic times in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, and some people thought that if I continued with the right coaching, I could be running professionally within a couple of years.
But I knew the athletic life can be very solitary because of the degree of focus required to compete at that level. It wasn’t a life choice I wanted to make.
So I started my career by joining an oil and gas company. My job involved making sure we were maximizing our revenue collection from our oil- and gas-drilling partners.
I eventually moved into financial and tax accounting, and then to business-process improvement.
In the mid-1990s, I began to really understand what the explosion of technology might mean for my job.
I saw an opportunity for technology to make financial and accounting information more accessible to decision makers, and I began to push to make that a possibility in the company where I worked.
Oil and gas is a very capital-intensive business. Usually, numerous partners pull together in various ways to provide capital to invest in drilling programs. Tons of information is gathered, not only for the partnerships, but also to meet the huge reporting requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
I suggested we become an aggregator. I figured out that we could partner with e-commerce vendors and offer them access to a pool of our partners to utilize their services. And we could go to our partners and connect them to our e-commerce providers. Either our partners would pay us a fee to be part of our group or we could work out a transaction fee with the e-commerce providers and charge a percentage for the business we brought them. Although that is common now, back in the 1990s, it wasn’t.
People thought the idea was crazy. But I was able to make my case one person at a time, and each supported me as I took it to the next level.
E-Management’s founder was aware of what I was involved in and thought it was an innovative idea. She asked me to join her in building e-Management.
I came in as chief financial officer, and over the years, I’ve seen how technology provides greater opportunities for executives to make better decisions. For us, one area where we’ve really seen the concept take off is in risk management.
It’s opening up the opportunity for disciplines that have traditionally been siloed or separate to become collaborative and be able to share in a manner that advances the decision-making capability of an organization.
I’m grateful for the chance to be able to take that idea to the next level.
— Interview with Vanessa Small