Kognitive Marketing Increases Revenue and Profitability with Guidance from Interim CFO

17 July 2015

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When Kognitive Marketing was introduced to Odgers Interim, the small business had become a victim of its own success. It had been named the fastest-growing marketing company in Canada in 2014 and ranked in the top 10 of the PROFIT 500 list, but it was also experiencing significant growing pains.

“We were doing really well but we needed help taking our business to the next level,” says Josh Singer, president of Kognitive Marketing. The payroll was still being processed manually and commissions and core operations were managed using spreadsheets, a system that made sense for a small start-up but not for a company with 500 employees. The Kognitive team was looking for senior financial guidance to help match systems and processes to the new scale of operations, but a full-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was not in the budget.

Some of the company’s advisory board members suggested hiring an interim CFO. “The idea was to recruit someone at the CFO level to do the strategic work on a part-time basis,” explains Josh, “so we were not paying a full time salary.”

Understanding Client Needs

With most of its employees under 30, Kognitive has a high-energy, youthful culture. The team wanted someone who could work effectively within that environment to help them get to the next level, and turned to two search firms before hiring Odgers Interim: “We had four people presented to us. The top two we chose were from Odgers.”

Josh praises Jason Peetsma, Managing Director at Odgers Interim, for steering a swift and focused selection process that found the right fit at the right budget. “Jason really understood our needs. He delivered quickly and delivered the right people. He was bang on, and made the process much quicker than if we had done our own internal search.”

With Jason’s help, Kognitive hired Joe Prodan, a proven CFO who had already worked with three high-profile and rapidly expanding start-ups including Bell ExpressVu, Sirius Radio, and Mobilicity. His experience of helping companies through the sometimes painful transition to success gave him the insight to guide Kognitive along a similar path. Joe joined the Kognitive team working three to four days a week for four months.

Delivering Rapid and Impressive Results

As an interim hire, Joe worked on compressed timelines to identify technology solutions that would allow the business to grow further, such as a new payroll system and a redesigned commission engine. “After only three days on the job, he knew at a high level all the things we had to get done.”

Josh credits Joe’s strategy with helping the company to significantly increase its revenues and profitability. Joe continues to act as an advisor, so the Kognitive team can tap into his senior-level expertise as needed. Using his intimate knowledge of Kognitive and subject matter expertise, Joe helped shortlist a CFO candidate who could carry out the company strategy over the long haul.

“We would have never found Joe without Odgers,” says Josh. Having seen the benefits first hand, he now urges smaller businesses that can’t afford a full-time CFO to consider an interim high-level hire who will position them for future growth. “Always hire amazing talent. It will pay for itself.”


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