Meet A ServiceTrader
Drew Peters, Chief Financial Officer
Drew is part of the executive leadership team who serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
His team manages ServiceTrade’s finances, accounting, operations, administration, and human resources.
Tell me about your ServiceTrade journey.
Funny story. I was working at another software company in the area, and I got pinged on LinkedIn from a guy named Billy Marshall. All it said was, “Hey Drew. Let’s talk about ServiceTrade,” and I thought, “Who is this guy? Is he trying to sell me something?”
I researched the company further and noticed it didn’t have a CFO. It got me thinking that maybe that is what Billy wanted to talk about. I got on the phone with him, and it turned out that we knew a lot of the same folks and that he was, in fact, looking for a CFO.
During the interview process, I just loved the people that I talked to, and once I got to see the business metrics, I thought, “Wow this is fantastic! I have to be a part of this.” I’ve always gravitated towards growth-oriented businesses, a place where you can roll-up your sleeves, have some fun building something, and help the company scale and grow, so I was really interested in the role.
A lot of life is luck and timing, and I guess I was in the right place at the right time. Billy was willing to give me a shot despite the fact that I had never held the CFO title, and for that, I am very grateful. Not everyone is willing to take that chance.
Drew in his normal Friday attire.
How were you able to prioritize everything when you first started?
I started on January 11, 2021. In some respects, it feels like I haven’t been here long at all and in other respects, there’s been so much that has happened in a year that it feels like I’ve been here forever.
It was overwhelming at first because it had been a while since I’ve started a new role, and I had never taken on this level of responsibility. Not only was it my first time in this role, but it’s also the first time this role has ever existed at the company. So in the back of my mind, I’m like, “Don’t screw this up!” It was also the middle of the pandemic, so I really only got to meet a handful of people in-person before I actually started.
When I started it was clear that there were two or three priorities that rose to the top that we needed to take care of like yesterday that needed to be the focus right off the bat. With my whole luck and timing thing – luckily, I had experience doing some of those things in my past roles, so I felt good that I could hop in, roll up my sleeves, and work with the team to push some of those initiatives across the finish line.
I’ve been trying my best since I started, and it’s been a really fun ride so far.
What do you do as the Chief Financial Officer?
It’s really hard to explain because it’s different every day. In broad terms, my team and I are in charge of the financial health and well-being of the company.
How do we do that? Well, it stretches across a number of things. Our team handles the basic blocking and tackling of accounting, financial planning and analysis, budgeting, thinking about treasury and what we are going to do with cash – do we need to take out a loan, should we consider a new partner like JMI Equity, etc. And, our team also handles risk management with insurance, employee relations, employee benefits, and everything that goes along with Human Resources. There’s a lot of moving pieces.
It can be pretty overwhelming at times, but my dad always used to tell me: Figure out what you’re not very good at and go get someone that is much better than you to fill that role. I feel like I’m pretty good at telling people, “Hey man, I really suck at XYZ.” I try to be aware of what I’m not great at, and I’m more than happy to find a rockstar to fill that gap because I know me, you, or any other person doesn’t scale. The only way to scale is by creating awesome teams that can help the whole company scale.
Thankfully, I already had an awesome team in place when I arrived on the scene. The only thing I had to do was talk with Billy, the Board, and our Controller, Miriam Migdal, to figure out where else we needed help, and then we could go out and hire some more folks.
To have the ability to be able to hire people and build a team is a blessing, and it’s really fun because you feel like you’re contributing and doing something that’s never been done before.
What do you do outside of work?
It changes by the year. When I was younger and in college, I used to surf all the time. I mean four or five hours a day… just surf all the time. When you get older, have a job, and a family, and don’t live at the beach anymore, that’s kind of hard to still do.
After my wife and I got married in 2011, we moved to New Zealand for a couple of years and traveled all over the place. We love to travel. We didn’t have any kids, dogs, or a house to worry about, so it was a no-brainer to spend our free time and money seeing parts of the world we might never get to again.
Now, we’re in a different season of our lives. We have three kids – a seven, five, and three-year-old – and two dogs. Outside of work, I spend a lot of time with the family. We love to play football and soccer, build with Legos, and vacation at Disney World. I’m also the Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scout Tiger Den.
I put a huge value on friends, family, everything in life outside of work. I don’t think we should be living to work. Work is a great thing to have and an awesome part of our life, but we should have a huge life outside of the office. Family, friends, and experiences can never been replaced, so I want to make sure that they remain the cornerstone of my life.
Drew and family enjoying a magical vacation at Walt Disney World in September 2021. Back row left to right: Drew, Anna (3), Katie. Front Row left to right: Nathan (5), Zach (7).
You’re famous for your Hawaiian shirts. Did that come from your surfing background?
Hmm. I’ve always been a little weird. I’m not sure if it came from surf culture or what. I think it was just pent-up over ten years of not being able to wear anything unique. I had to fit into this little box, and now I get to wear what I want.
Going back in time, I started my career in public accounting. The whole public accounting industry is quite conservative, so I always had to wear either a black or blue suit. If you wore a different color suit than black or blue, then everyone was like “Woah, that guy is really out there!”
When I left public accounting and went into finance at a different software company, it was ‘wear whatever you want’. I was like “Oh my gosh, dude, I can do whatever I want to do!”
Jason Mraz said it best when he sang “you should look as good as your outlook.” I always feel like I’m happier when I’m wearing something really bright or really loud. And based on the amount of comments I get, I feel like it makes other people feel happy and makes them smile. If I’m making you smile, then that’s doing something good in the world.
At this point, I’ve probably got thirty Hawaiian shirts, and I wear one every Friday. But, in November and December, I switch from Hawaiian shirt Friday to crazy holiday sweater Friday.
Drew in his younger days catching some tasty waves!
What’s it been like so far as the CFO?
It’s been really fun. You know, I don’t know what a CFO is “supposed” to be. There’s no guide that says you should be X, Y, or Z. I just show up and do what I think I should be doing to make sure this company is always a little bit better today than it was yesterday – or better tomorrow than it is today. Even if it’s just a 1% incremental improvement or some change, every bit counts.
To use Billy’s words, it’s way more fun to be growing than to be grinding. I’ve done both in my career, and he’s right. Being in a growth company is way more fun! It doesn’t mean that sometimes things don’t go to plan, or there’s not going to be times where you have to work really hard, stay up late, or work a weekend or two, but when you look at it in totality, it’s always more fun when you know that what you’re doing is building a company and creating more opportunity.
What sort of responsibility do you feel as a C-level executive at a company?
It is tough but rewarding. Sometimes it can be really fun, and sometimes the responsibility can feel crushing. It can be difficult when you make a decision that you know is a good decision for the company, but not everyone is going to like it. Some things are going to cut both ways; you’ll get 50% of the group that is like, “Hooray!” and 50% of the group that is like, “I hate you.” But you have to put on that hat and do the best thing for the company.
That can be the hardest part. Sometimes doing the best thing for the company might not even be the best thing for me personally. But, it’s not about me, or you, or any individual, it’s about the company. Again, we’re growing, so a lot of the decisions we’re making are “good” decisions. I get to be the person that stands up and says “Hey, we’re making all these great changes to our benefits.” I’m not the person that has to stand up and say, “We’re taking something away.”
Right now, on the balance, it’s way more fun than it is overwhelming. But, it can definitely be stressful knowing that if something bad were to happen, a lot of the blame would be on me. If I’m tasked with this giant responsibility, I need to take that really seriously and make sure I’m following through and doing the best that I possibly can for the company. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
Any advice for anyone wherever they are in their career that wants to advance?
In regards to career advancement, I like to tell people to 1) be your own self-advocate when it comes to your career, and 2) treat others with respect.
Sometimes in life and work you have to ask for things if you want to get those things. I can remember times in my career where I may not have been up for a promotion or a raise, but I went in and asked someone, “What do I need to do, show you that I have accomplished, or get experience in to make it to that next level?”
I constantly had to remind myself that the people above me had a lot of stuff going on in their lives, they were managing other people, and their focus wasn’t 100% on me, so if I hadn’t brought it up, I may not have been considered for that raise, promotion, or new opportunity.
You have to be your own self-advocate when you’re thinking about the trajectory of your career and how you’re going to get there. It takes stepping stones. Some of those stepping stones you might have to pull yourself onto, and others you may need someone else to give you a boost or pull you up on.
My dad always used to tell me: the most powerful people in any office setting are usually the janitors, the executive assistants, and the office managers… not the C-Suite. You need to treat them with the same level of respect as you would treat anyone else, and to some extent, you need to be better friends with them than anyone else because they’re the ones that make the world go round. When you really need something – maybe you need to get a meeting on someone’s calendar – you’re going to wish you were friends with that person.
I’ve always taken that to heart. You should treat everyone with the same level of respect as you would treat the CEO or your best friend. Nobody’s better than anyone else, and everyone deserves respect.
Anything else you want to add or that people might not know?
This JMI Equity investment is huge, and it’s a great thing for the company! Something I was thinking about the other day is that sometimes people put a bad name to private equity (PE) firms, but in reality, that could not be further from the truth. The money that they invest in companies like ServiceTrade comes from places like state employee retirement funds, teachers and first responders pension funds, college endowment funds, and other non-profit entities.
Really, the PE firms are here to be good stewards of investments for a well-deserving group of people. That does add some extra pressure at times because we want to make sure we’re doing what’s best for the business to provide a return for not only the PE firm, but for teachers, frontline workers, retirees, etc. That’s who is backing us, and that’s why I care so much about the growth and success of ServiceTrade.
Drew and his wife Katie enjoying a wine tasting on Waiheke Island just off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand which they called home from 2012 to 2014.