Meet David Bultema, Brightspot's Chief Financial Officer. Here, he shares with Rose about his responsibilities overseeing all financial activities for the company, from budgeting and accounting to forecasting, reporting and analysis. Outside of the office, he can usually be found enjoying the outdoors (and with something pumpkin-flavored to eat, especially in fall).
How long have you worked for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I have been working at Brightspot for three years. I was brought here by Kami Ragsdale, who was the company's previous CFO. I worked with Kami at two other companies, AOL and a company called Envision, before coming to Brightspot. She called me and told me there was an opportunity at Brightspot, and I jumped at it because I trusted Kami and enjoyed working with her, and I knew she would be at a good place. And, of course, it has been!
Can you tell me more about your role as Chief Financial Officer? What is a typical day like for you?
I’m responsible for all things financial with the company. We have a few different areas on which we focus. One is accounting for the business led by Julia Heflin and Tricia Preston. Throughout the month we’re paying bills, submitting payroll, collecting receivables, booking revenue and expenses, remitting sales taxes and doing other financial-related transactions. These culminate with our monthly financial reports and financial statements that are audited annually and summarize the financial performance of the company.
A second area of focus is financial planning and analysis, led by Kyle Sigmund. In this area we are looking at the financial forecast for the business, predicting our financial results (i.e., revenue, expenses and cash), comparing against our budget and previous forecast and performing lots of ad-hoc analysis. We’re constantly looking for opportunities to measure and improve our financial performance and are working closely with people throughout the organization on a daily basis. Kyle also helps lead the creation of our Monthly Operating Review (MOR) deck, which we present to the Board of Directors each month. Next we have Brenda Hali’s team, which focuses on data analytics, mostly within the sales and marketing areas, but her team also creates client-facing analytics reports. Last but not least, I have Nat Eggleston on my team, and he helps out with the Professional Services business. Nat works with the Professional Services team and our COO, Alfred Garcia, to review project performance, making sure we’re staying on budget and have the information necessary to make good decisions.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job here at Brightspot?
I think the hardest thing is developing the financial forecast for a business because there are lots of moving pieces that constantly change and need to be taken into consideration. It takes significant effort, coordination and diligence to track all of the drivers that lead to a strong model for predicting the financial results—primarily including sales bookings, revenue, expenses and cash. At Brightspot we are lucky as there's a good team of financially-minded individuals we work with to make sure we have the right data to support our forecasts.
How have you grown professionally since starting at Brightspot?
Oh, wow! When I first joined Brightspot I was the Vice President of Finance and Operations for the company. I just learned so much working with Kami, the previous CFO. She’s really smart, super nice and has always been there to help provide guidance. I’m very grateful for her and for other colleagues that I’ve worked with over the years, including Alfred Garcia and David Gang. They’ve really worked to help me grow professionally to where I am today as CFO.
What do you think are the most important characteristics for a leader to possess?
I think as a leader it’s important to be a good listener. It’s about listening to people and making them feel heard. It’s not just thinking you know what the answer is but actually working with other people to listen to their suggestions to help form your recommendations. I also really like being present in the office and working with people in person.
What's the best piece of career or life advice that you've ever received?
First of all, never stop learning! Learn something new every day. The second thing is to approach every day by asking yourself: how do I make today better than yesterday? What are the things I can do to make that happen, which partly ties back to learning. Also, it’s not always about the huge incremental gains, but about the small steps you continue to build on every day which help the business continue to grow and flourish. That’s always been a big piece of advice that has resonated with me.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
I love the people, Rose. When I think about Brightspot, I think about three things. Number one is we really do well by people. We bring in great people to work at this company, people who are very smart and yet very thoughtful and considerate. Secondly, we do well for our customers. We make our customers feel special. We become a "bright spot" in their lives, so we hope that what we’re doing on a daily basis is making them happy to be working with us at Brightspot. The third thing is we give back to people. Almost every day you get an email or notification about a mission opportunity for the business. I think all three of these things are just the complete piece of the pie for me in terms of what we’re doing as a company, and I think those three things are important. That’s why I’m here and really love being here.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I love sports. I love the outdoors. I love being around water. Those are my happy moments! I love going to see sporting events, whether it is the Washington Capitals or going to see my sons swim or play hockey. I also enjoy hiking and going on walks with my red fox lab (Ruby). I just love being outside and enjoying the outdoors!
What fall activity are you the most excited about?
I love eating everything with pumpkin in it! I love pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin squares. Food in the fall is just so good. Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!
If you could plan your perfect three-course meal, what would it be and why?
Wow, this is a tough one. I would start with some shrimp cocktail. Then I would go for a nice, well-seasoned steak with mashed potatoes. Then for dessert, I’m gonna go with the fall theme: a nice slice of pumpkin pie with cool whip on top!