Attorney, investment banker, chief financial offer – they’re all roles Jay Halbert has held throughout his nearly 30-year career. Presently the CFO of Philadelphia-based Alkemy X, a role he’s held for the past five years, Halbert played a critical role in righting the company’s finances.
When Halbert came aboard in 2017, Alkemy X was in dire straits and together with CEO Justin Wineburgh – who had joined the company just the year prior – they were able to restructure and transform the firm into the profitable one it is today.
The global media company – which works in entertainment, technology and advertising – has seen its visual effects used on popular Amazon Prime show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and AMC hit “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Overcoming the hurdles of Covid-19 – which included salary reductions, vendor renegotiations, and subsequent salary reinstatements – Alkemy X ended 2021 with 53% year-over-year revenue growth. Halbert’s next order of business is reassessing their office needs and shrinking square footage to meet the new needs of workers.
My guiding philosophy as a CFO: Tell the truth and provide honest advice, even when you know it’s not what the listener wants to hear.
My go-to negotiation tactic: To listen more than I talk, trying hard to understand the perspective and goals of my counterpart. This hopefully enables me to structure a deal where I get what I most value while simultaneously giving the other person what they need.
My response to those that identify CFOs as “bean counters”: If someone thinks a CFO is just a bean counter, it means they just have not yet had exposure to a real CFO. A CFO has a deep and comprehensive understanding of the company and its industry, who helps the rest of the management team evaluate how the company is performing and how best to move it forward.
An historic financial transaction I would have enjoyed being involved in: The seed financing round of Airbnb. When founder Brian Chesky was looking for funding in 2009, virtually every venture capital firm not only passed, but almost all of them thought it was one of the dumbest ideas they had ever heard – there is no way that people are going to let strangers sleep in their house!
How I will gauge success in 2022: Now that the Covid-19 lockdowns are behind us, our major challenges for 2022 include establishing a strong culture in a hybrid work environment and gaining traction in several new initiatives to drive the company’s growth in 2023 and beyond.
Something I do for fun: Watch Philly sports teams.