In The Top Spot


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q3 2015 Issue



Keith Kendall held a number of leadership positions with large companies like AT&T Capital and Hewlett-Packard Financial Services, but he had never been a CFO before joining Warren, NJ–based MonoSol Rx in 2006.The then-startup specialty pharmaceutical company developed a dissolving film the size of a postage stamp that makes it easier to deliver prescription drugs.

From the start, Kendall took on management responsibilities that went beyond the traditional financial aspects —he worked closely with then-CEO Mark Schobel to chart a course of development for the company. Over eight years, the two worked in tandem to raise more than $100 million of capital, and they spun the company off from its original parent, Monosol, LLC.

Kendall quickly came up to speed on the ins and outs of the pharmaceutical industry, and was soon asked to expand his role to lead several key functions in the business, helping to further spur Monosol Rx’s growth by expanding the customer base and shepherding new product development.

Kendall’s relationship with his CEO, and the knowledge and experience he built in the pharmaceutical industry as CFO, helped him develop the skills needed to run MonoSol Rx. In December 2014, Schobel shifted into the role of Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, and the board appointed Kendall as the company’s new CEO.

The 200-employee, privately held company doesn’t disclose revenue numbers, but it sells and licenses its products around the world, delivering more than 2 billion doses since 2008 and over 250 million doses in 2014 alone.

Background a Springboard

“As CFO at MonoSol Rx, I was a business executive who happened to lead the finance function,” Kendall explains.

Prior to joining MonoSol Rx, Kendall worked with Irv Rothman at both AT&T Capital and at HP Financial Services. (As profiled in CFO Studio Q1 2013, Rothman also rose from being a CFO— at AT&T Credit Corporation, becoming president and CEO of HP Financial Services). During his tenure at these companies, Kendall appraised the value of potential business acquisitions, completing the due diligence necessary before acquiring new assets.

Underpinning Kendall’s practical business experience is a powerful knowledge base: an undergraduate degree in accounting and economics from Saint John’s University, and an MBA from Pace University.

“I had the opportunity to form and run joint venture businesses and I ultimately had the opportunity to run large business units or segments,” he says. “The financial role affords a vantage point and influence platform, with access to investors, boards, and the rest of the C-suite that is ideal for those aspiring to business leadership roles.

“The real opportunity for CFOs seeking the chief executive role lies in the things you choose to be a part of and the experiences you build while in the financial role,” Kendall adds. “The financial role gives you a great perspective of the overall business and the performance levers in the business. You can choose to focus on keeping score and issuing backward-looking financial statements, or you can strive to understand the market dynamics that shape the company, and be part of developing and setting the strategy of the company, and be an important part of leading and managing the execution of that strategy.”

Open to New Experiences

Kendall honed his financial leadership, but more importantly, he developed broader executive leadership skills. A position with the burgeoning MonoSol Rx presented himwith the chance to lead a company, financially and strategically, from the outset.

“I was attracted to the opportunity that a startup like Monosol Rx presented, especially since I had been with startups and turnarounds before,” he recalls. “I knew the market, and I knew the operational and other business processes that would help the company to grow.”

He also saw, in then-CEO Schobel, a partner and collaborator in creating growth and success for MonoSol Rx.

“I had a seamless relationship with Mark,” he says. “It was a partnership that capitalized on complementary skills that was successful from our first days together in 2006.”

The way they collaborated drove MonoSol Rx’s culture, Kendall says, characterizing the working relationship as fluid. “We transitioned roles seamlessly as needed. From the start, we knew that as MonoSol Rx moved from a purely R&D company proving its technology to a more commercial stage with production schedules and customers to delight, the CEO’s role would be less technical and more broad business-focused.”

Healthy Tension

Working closely with Schobel gave Kendall some valuable insights about the signs of a good CFO-CEO relationship.

“In a best-case scenario, the two leaders share a view and take steps together to move the company ahead,” says Kendall. “A CFO and CEO should be collaborative and inclusive and there should be a ‘healthy tension’ between their views. This relationship is a duet where each leader has strengths and weaknesses, but the two in collaboration are able to have vision, create and set a strategy, and ensure execution. The boundaries between executive roles do not have to be bright lines.”

Because of his or her wide-ranging responsibilities, a CFO is in an ideal position to understand and influence a company, he adds.

In his new role as CEO, Kendall expects his CFO to have a broad and informed internal perspective of the company, as well as a nuanced view of the larger specialty pharmaceutical and drug-development landscape. If a CFO is spending his or her time overly focused on producing financials and score keeping without keeping sight of the business overall, that’s a mistake, Kendall believes.

“Growing companies and dealing effectively with the complex issues in the markets require attention and focus at the top, and no one person can be everywhere all the time or right all the time,” he says. “The CEO and CFO have to work together and speak as one.”

A Formula for Success

“MonoSol Rx leadership faces the same challenges presented to every pharmaceutical company, from the economy to regulatory hurdles,” Kendall says. “But our company is profitable, and we anticipate that we’ll continue to successfully move forward, propelled in part by a seamless CFO-and-CEO working relationship.”

Should I Take This Offer?


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q4 2015 Issue

By John Moskonas President, The ARGroup of Search Companies

How to decide if you should change your current situation

One of the best times to reflect on what is really important to you in terms of your career and life is when you are deciding whether or not to accept an offer. Even if you are simply entertaining the thought of moving on, consider that this is a time to do big-picture thinking. You might consider: compensation, location, balance in life, peer relationship development, and whether or not you can leverage a larger role later on, inside or outside the company.

These factors are not all equal. Aging parents, children in school, and other life circumstances can mean that you need to balance your work life with personal commitments. Compensation is always a good driver, but sometimes not the overriding factor. Whatever your considerations are, however, you should go beyond drawing the proverbial line down the middle of the paper and listing the pros and cons of a role. Weight each factor, because frankly, some things are worth more than others.

Step 1

List what is important to you on the left. Assign a weight on a 10-point scale, where 10 is very important to you and 1 is of little importance. Add up the weights for a total possible score.

Step 2

Rank the components of the offer (or current situation) relative to the weights. For example, if you weight “money” as an 8 and the offer you receive meets those needs, rank the offer an 8. If you weight “no travel” as a 7 and the offer you receive requires you to travel more than you want, you can rank the offer for that category a 5, and so on. Add up those scores.

Step 3

Divide the offer score by the total possible score, for a percentage. If the role ranks 80 percent or better, you may consider that a good offer… or you may not. Perhaps you were looking for a 90 percent or 95 percent. It’s up to you.

Sometimes circumstances dictate that we have to change our situation, sometimes our situation meets our needs. Whatever the case, this is a good way to quantify and/or reevaluate every few years in terms of what is important to you, and use that as a base line. Best wishes!

Navigating the “Seven C’s”


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q4 2015 Issue


For CFOs and other top executives, professional change is inevitable. Big career transitions can include having to embrace new roles, new technologies, new strategies, and living in a new geographic location. But even seasoned professionals accustomed to a fluid professional life find personal change difficult. According to organizational behavior expert Linda Brimm, writing in the Harvard Business Review, C-suite executives facing transition need to navigate through the “Seven C’s:”

Complexity – Considering all aspects and issues at playScreenshot (54)

Clarity – Gaining insight, understanding, and the ability to prioritize

Confidence – Believing the change will be handled successfully

Creativity – Finding innovative solutions to any bumps in the road.

Commitment – Taking concrete steps

Consolidation – Saying good-bye to the previous role and embracing the new one

Change – Fully embracing the new experience and making it work

The ascending nature of these steps ensures that the proposed transition does not become an overwhelming obstacle to the next step in an executive’s career. Sticking to the process will provide a road map for embracing current and future change.

Copyright 2017