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Interview: AvidXchange’s New Chief Financial Officer, Joel Wilhite

February 8, 2017
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AvidXchange™, leading provider of accounts payable and payment automation solutions for midsize companies, is pleased to announce the addition of Joel Wilhite as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Joel is a seasoned financial executive with over 20 years of experience in progressive growth companies.

Most recently, Joel was the CFO at Quantros, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company in Greenville, S.C., that offers an enterprise-wide suite of applications that helps hospitals better manage the quality and safety of patient care. Prior to Quantros, Joel was the Senior Vice President of Finance for BenefitFocus, a leading SaaS provider of benefits administration software and solutions, and the CFO for the International division of Blackbaud.

We sat down with Joel to discuss why he’s excited to join the AvidXchange team and his deep and abiding love for Microsoft Excel, which you can read below!

Did you always think you would be in finance, or did you originally have another career in mind?

When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur.  I learned early in my career that I was better suited as the finance guy at the right hand of an entrepreneur instead. I am very excited do that again here at AvidXchange working with Mike Praeger and team.

What is your biggest piece of advice for finance professionals that are early in their career that want to advance?

Ask “why” all the time.  Make sure you understand why you are doing what you are assigned, and understand how it fits into the bigger picture.  Then, master the work you have been assigned. As you understand the big picture better, then seek adjacent responsibilities and master them. By doing this you will increase your value to the organization.  As your value to the organization increases, then you will find more opportunities opening up.
It’s critical to manage your time well. Working hard is necessary, but working smart is even more important. You must be ruthless with time. Finally, while being ruthless with time, remember to always be gracious with people.

How has technology changed the way you work? What has been one of the most influential tools/software that has benefited you?

Microsoft Excel is the most powerful and essential tool for those of us in finance.  My additional advice for anyone who wants to advance their career in finance, and any function for that matter, is to learn more advanced data analysis tools in Excel. In a more and more data rich environment, people with advanced Excel skills will easily distinguish themselves.

As great and essential as Excel is, all the data analysis in the world is no good without the ability to communicate effectively.  PowerPoint is my go-to storytelling tool.

How do you think the role of CFO will evolve in the years ahead? There’s been a lot of talk about the shift to a more decision-making and strategic position with so much more data available today.

Much has been written about the transformation of the CFO role from a compliance cop to a commercially savvy and strategic-thinking business adviser.  I think we are indeed on that arc of change, and I think it will continue to not only impact the CFO role, but will drive change over time in how the finance function is organized and staffed and how it delivers value to the business.

Technical accounting and compliance are essential, and finance organizations must be staffed with outstanding folks in these areas.  At the same time, the demand for data-driven decision making has grown tremendously in a world where we have exponentially increased the amount of data available to us to make decisions.  This requires a highly developed data analysis skill set together with the critical thinking and communication skills to turn the data into well-articulated and actionable choices.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Soccer, and I’m always on the lookout for a good pick-up game.  If you’ve read this far, and you know of a good pick-up game in town, let me know!

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you love Excel, with 10 being the highest?

I’ve probably given that away already, but it’s a 10!

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