June 25, 2021 – Over the past few months, numerous healthcare and life sciences organizations have turned to executive search firms to find new leaders. In the era of COVID-19, the sector has been a burgeoning area for executive search firms to ply their trade. Recently, life sciences-focused search firm Slone Partners placed Nipun Soni as the new chief financial officer at precision diagnostics company BillionToOne Inc. in Menlo Park, CA. “Nipun is a highly skilled leader and strategic thinker with a successful track record in long-range planning and budgeting, capital raises and business modeling,” said Tara Kochis-Stach, president of Slone Partners. “He will be a tremendous addition to BillionToOne’s executive team.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Nipun as our CFO,” said Oguzhan Atay, co-founder and CEO of BillionToOne. “Nipun is an extraordinary leader who has tremendous experience in high-growth companies. I look forward to working with Nipun to further grow our product offerings and commercial presence and to further advance our mission of making molecular diagnostics more accurate, accessible and affordable for all.”
Mr. Soni is a seasoned and respected finance executive with more than 20 years of broad financial experience spanning across high-growth public companies in the technology and healthcare sectors. Most recently, while serving as the senior vice president of finance at Guardant Health, he raised more than $1 billion in equity and debt capital and helped scale the organization. Previously, Mr. Soni served as senior vice president of finance and chief administrative officer at Quotient Technology Inc., assistant corporate controller at KLA-Tencor and senior director of finance at Oracle.
“I am very excited to join BillionToOne and be part of this mission-driven organization,” said Mr. Soni. “The company’s technology offers unique capabilities in improving the accuracy of precision diagnostics to a single DNA molecule count level. I look forward to working with an amazing team of talented individuals at BillionToOne, as we continue to scale our business by offering tests and services that empower clinicians and patients to make confident medical decisions.”
BillionToOne is a precision diagnostics company with a mission to make molecular diagnostics more accurate, efficient, and accessible for all. The company’s patent-pending QCT molecular counter platform is the only technology platform that can accurately count DNA molecules to the single-count level.
Slone Partners is a nationally recognized senior-level recruitment provider that specializes in delivering executive, management and leadership talent for the diagnostic, biopharmaceutical, healthcare information technology and laboratory testing industries. The firm has offices in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Recently, the firm was included among Hunt Scanlon Media’s “Top 50 Healthcare & Life Sciences Search Firms.”
Ms. Kochis-Stach joined Slone Partners in 2004, bringing to the firm over a decade of healthcare experience. Her past sales career with industry leaders such as VERSYSS, American Medical Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics covered a wide variety of healthcare segments, including information technology, medical records, and the diagnostic and laboratory testing industry. Prior to healthcare, Ms. Kochis-Stach recruited executive and management talent in the banking and finance sector.
Recruiting CFOs for PE Companies
Executive search firm Caldwell recently conducted a survey on the CFO role to fine-tune its understanding of the skills and experiences that define success today for a CFO of a PE-backed portfolio company and, equally importantly, which attributes may sound appealing but are not essential. More than 300 private equity CFOs shared candid responses on their backgrounds and how they landed in their current role. The results provided a clearer picture of who sits in the CFO chair at many PE-backed portfolio companies, and the skills and credentials that are truly impactful in their leadership role.
When asked to describe their previous experience, 10 percent of the participants said, “I was a divisional CFO or No. 2 finance executive in a PE-backed company,” while 20 percent had the same status at a public company. Another 35 percent had been a CFO of a public or private company. And only 34 percent had been CFO of a PE-backed company. So just a third of the CFOs in the Caldwell survey had previously held a PE CFO role.
Among companies with less than $25 million in revenue, only 15 percent of the CFOs had prior experience as CFO of a PE-backed company, while 56 percent of the companies with greater than $500 million revenue hired a CFO with prior experience in a PE CFO role. In the three other revenue categories, the companies hired a CFO with prior PE CFO experience 40 percent of the time, or less. These findings would seem to indicate that hiring a CFO with prior PE CFO experience is a “nice to have,” but not a must-have credential for all companies, said the firm.
Caldwell also asked the CFOs: “What were the key factors in your hiring?” and asked them to check all relevant factors. Among the total population of participants, the No. 1 factor was industry experience, and the second factor was PE experience. Tied for third were a previous successful exit and a prior role as a stand-alone PE CFO.
Looking at the responses by company revenue size, private equity experience was the first or second response in all revenue categories. Likewise, industry experience was first or second in the four lower revenue categories. Among companies with greater than $500 million revenue, however, private equity experience was the top response, selected by 64 percent of the respondents, while a previous successful exit and experience as a stand-alone PE CFO were each chosen by 48 percent of respondents. Only in this largest revenue category did industry experience drop to the fourth answer, tied with public reporting experience. These responses would seem to reflect that among the largest companies, investors are more likely to be anticipating and hiring for an exit via a public offering.
By comparison, among companies with less than $25 million in revenue, public reporting experience was cited as a hiring factor only eight percent of the time, while a previous successful exit was cited by 17 percent of respondents. Across all revenue categories, the CFO had Big Four experience a quarter of the time, or less.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media