David Urry, MultiLing CFO, joined the company in March of this year and went straight to work on maximizing and strengthening MultiLing’s financial systems. Here’s what he has to say about his new role.
What attracted you to MultiLing?
MultiLing seemed like a perfect combination of things I have done and love—translation and technology. I have a background in engineering, as well as some experience translating into Farsi, so I had an initial feeling this could be a really interesting place for me. I found the opportunity to use my expertise in finance to help a company grow in an industry that’s both intriguing and exciting. Furthermore, I’ve found MultiLing to be an organization that is interested in social success as well as financial success, and that is important to me.
What background and expertise do you bring to MultiLing?
MultiLing CEO Michael Sneddon’s great vision has significantly altered the translation process from the early days when I personally participated in the industry. What is more, the team at MultLing has been significantly strengthened over the past few years and I am excited to apply my expertise in financial modeling and data gathering to accelerate MultiLing’s growth even more. I have always loved finding ways to optimize processes and increase throughput and have applied my skills in this area at Hewlett Packard, American Airlines and Medicity (which was bought by Aetna). At each organization I’ve helped management decide how to best use their resources and that’s what I plan to do for MultiLing.
What was your first impression of MultiLing?
When I first interviewed with Michael Sneddon, members of the management team and a board member, I genuinely liked them and could tell that they liked each other. There is a uniquely genuine concern for the individual, personally as well as professionally. There is a great commonality of purpose across the team and we operate extremely cohesively.
What did you do on your first day at MultiLing?
On the first day, I spent the entire time talking to each of the executives to gain insight into their needs and expectations of me. The second day was even more fun as I sat with each member of my accounting team and experienced first hand the processes and tools that were in place to help them accomplish their work. I found that both teams have been extremely diligent, but I also walked away with a much clearer picture of the opportunity to jump in and make an impact
What do you feel are your greatest strengths?
It’s always fun to write a graduation speech or your own obituary. That said, my parents taught me some very important lessons that contributed to my desire to always look for ways to improve things and to hopefully make a lasting impact on organizations and people. My mother taught me that there is nothing you can’t do if you make up your mind to do it. My father provided the laboratory for me to prove that hypothesis. From the time that I was in middle school, until midway through my undergraduate program, my dad and I worked together restoring antique furniture—specializing in player pianos. Rebuilding a player piano involved removing hundreds of screws, hundreds of feet of tubing and parts, rebuilding each of those parts and reinstalling each of them and all of the tubing that connects them. It was a very detailed process that shaped my ability to multitask and to optimize processes.
What is your leadership style?
I believe strongly in creating vision and staying out of the way. Great leadership happens when you understand people’s needs and then help them identify how they can address those needs. The downstream effects of teaching people how to change their own circumstance and environment is phenomenal. After meeting with my accounting team, I immediately went to work and automated one of their least desirable tasks. As I did this, I showed my controller how I was doing it and why. Once he saw what could be done, he and his team proactively implemented more improvements on their own. I have such great people to work with, it’s easy to lead by example and then let them do what they excel at. I also believe it’s important to take time to “sharpen your saw” or improve your tools and return with renewed energy.
What is your vision for growing MultiLing?
As CFO, I feel it is my responsibility to provide valuable data so people can make good decisions without a lot of management overhead. The data will help us streamline our processes and improve our margins. It will allow our sales team to go into sales opportunities knowing the client better than the client knows itself and knowing how to negotiate partnership agreements that will not erode MultiLing’s value or our offering. While there is much discussion about Big Data, the key is the information that gets created from the data! So, my vision for growing MultiLing is to extract and utilize the data created in our proprietary processes to optimize our capacity, production and growth.
There are challenges that come from growth. What do you see as some of MultiLing’s challenges and how do you plan to manage them?
Our two greatest assets are our people and our reputation for quality. The investment dollars raised last year were a direct result of the investors’ confirmation of those assets. We will continue to focus on both of these assets and continue to build long-term relationships with our employees, vendors, clients and investors.