Although Dan Rabinowitz is no longer in marketing, he still manages to infect others with the enthusiasm he brings to a different field: finance. “When someone tells me to go ‘take the hill,’ I love the challenge of putting all of the elements together to close on [a] transaction,” he says. The CFO of Haivision Network Video is now helping build the firm into a global solutions leader in the field of video streaming, recording, management, and delivery for enterprise. Here, he discusses with Advantage his career transition and the team ethos at Haivision.
Advantage: Did you always want to be in finance?
Dan Rabinowitz: My educational focus was in marketing, and I started out at the Latex Glove Company, where I was responsible for a line of high-voltage insulating products for the utility industry. It didn’t take me long to realize that marketing wasn’t my first love, so I moved into finance.
You’ve held a lot of positions. Is that typical for a CFO?
A CFO’s role is dynamic. The market moves quickly, and as companies make acquisitions, get acquired, or pivot their businesses, we get the chance to educate, guide, and bring new ideas to these companies so that they and their customers and investors are successful.
What sets you apart from other CFOs?
My early experiences in sales and marketing—combined with my transactional experience—are unique. I have a firm understanding of accounting, but my interests and skills lie on the finance and transactional side of the business: mergers, acquisitions, raising private equity, public offerings, etc. Because of my process orientation, I often get asked to be involved in initiatives that are outside the role of a typical CFO. I tend to take on a very strategic “where are we going?” perspective.
Graduates from the University of Illinois with a BS in business admin–istration; signs on as a sales and product manager at Latex Glove Company
Earns an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at North–western University; joins Scientific Research Assoc–iates, a division of IBM
Becomes the director of finance for Technology Solutions Company
Begins work as the mergers-and-acquisitions inter–mediary for Geneva Capital Markets
Starts his first EVP and CFO with Peapod LLC
EVP and CFO of TUSC
Accepts a job as EVP and CFO of FinanSure
Becomes CFO at Haivision
With that in mind, where are you headed over the next five years?
Ultimately, my mandate within Haivision is to increase the value we provide to our various constituents: channel partners, customers, employees, and shareholders. Thus, I am constantly thinking strategically about how we might best position ourselves to increase the value of what we provide. We certainly want to make sure that as the industry and our business evolves, we don’t overlook any of the underlying currents that might represent challenges to our future success. We want to make sure that we continue to be the leading technology provider and that our solutions are a step ahead of constantly changing technology trends. If we continue down that path, all our constituents will benefit.
What excites you most about what you do?
I particularly like the transactional part of my business. With any transaction, there is a specific goal, a starting line, and a process that needs to be followed.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Haivision?
The people are great, and we have a culture of working hard and playing hard. It creates an environment that is very attractive to be around. My colleagues all have responsibilities within the organization, and we trust that each of us is going to take care of the things that are within our vertical control. We complement one another for what each brings to the business.
What philosophy guides the way you run your department?
It’s that level of trust that allows people to realize their full potential in their positions. I’ve built a great team around me that handles their responsibilities much better than I could. For example, my finance lead runs all of the accounting. He requires very little oversight, if any at all. My IT lead is clearly more equipped at his job than I could ever be. And the same holds true for my HR lead. I’ve surrounded myself with individuals who are self-starters, who know their roles well. They have as much freedom as they need to get their jobs done. This philosophy frees me up to do the things that I want to do—and that’s the transactional, the strategic, the forecasting, and the business development efforts that are of particular interest to me.