This episode features an interview with Jaye Connolly-LaBelle, Chairman and CEO of RippleNami, Inc., a global technology company that has redefined a simple-to-use technology platform leveraging artificial intelligence, blockchain, and data visualization, and currently has a keen focus in Africa. On this episode, Jaye discusses why successful CFOs embrace data and technology, why traceability and transparency are the buzzwords of the future, next-gen applications for blockchain and cryptology, and why Africa is a greenfield opportunity that will have the largest marketplace in the world by 2030.
This episode features an interview with Jaye Connolly-LaBelle, Chairman and CEO of RippleNami, Inc., a global technology company that has redefined a simple-to-use technology platform leveraging artificial intelligence, blockchain, and data visualization, and currently has a keen focus in Africa.
Jaye boasts an impressive 35-year career in finance, technology, audit, healthcare, and M&A, with extensive leadership experience including key C-level roles at both private and publicly traded corporations.
On this episode, Jaye discusses why successful CFOs embrace data and technology, why traceability and transparency are the buzz words of the future, next-gen applications for blockchain and cryptology, and why Africa is a greenfield opportunity that will have the largest marketplace in the world by 2030.
“Right now CFOs are probably at about a 50% digitization rate…I think in order to be a successful CFO, you need to have everything at your fingertips. Being a CEO of an international company, every system we use, everything is cloud-based, and at any given time, whether I'm on an airplane or in the middle of the jungle, I can look and see where we are from a sales perspective, from a project perspective, from a cash perspective, all on my phone.”
“Covid shined a light on the importance of digitization. And I do think you're going to see a very large adoption trend to that end…Leveraging technology is the only way to go forward…I think people are intimidated by technology sometimes, [but] I think Covid has helped out digitization, and the global economy and the fast pace that we're moving with technology has helped to get CFOs more apt to adopt digitization.”
“I do think [without tech adoption] there's a blind side, and there is risk because you don't know in real time what's really going on...As the CFO, you're the organization that keeps the lights on in a company. It's the most important part of the organization.”
“[Data] is everything. I'm a believer in data…data on a spreadsheet is meaningless, but data in a real-time dashboard is powerful--if I have to go hunt and look for what I need, versus if I can build an AI business intelligence tool that tells me what I need…You have to have your finger on the pulse, and it is data-driven.”
“I'm a former auditor, so I like to look at the whole entire process and see how I can improve it. Process improvement--whether it's a technology, whether it's a person, whatever that resource is--to streamline your process from top to bottom. I think that's important for a first-time CFO.”
The Invisible Vault is powered by the team at Kyriba, the global leader in cloud treasury and finance solutions, empowering CFOs and their teams to transform how they activate liquidity as a dynamic, real-time vehicle for growth and value creation. To learn more visit www.kyriba.com
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[00:00:00] Jaye: [00:00:00] I think in order to be a successful CFO, you need to have everything at your fingertips and data on a spreadsheet is meaningless data in a real-time dashboard is powerful.
[00:00:16] Ben: [00:00:16] Hello and welcome to The Invisible Vault. This episode features an interview with Jaye Connolly-Labelle chairman and CEO of RippleNami, a global technology company that has redefined a simple to use technology platform, leveraging artificial intelligence.
[00:00:29] Blockchain and data visualization and currently has a keen focus in Africa. Jaye boasts an impressive. 35 year career in finance, technology, audit, healthcare and M&A with extensive leadership experience, including key C-level roles at both private and publicly traded corporations. On this episode, Jaye discusses, why successful CFOs embrace data and technology.
[00:00:53] Why traceability and transparency are the buzzwords of the future. Next gen applications for blockchain and cryptology. And why [00:01:00] Africa is a Greenfield opportunity that will have the largest marketplace in the world by 2030. But before we get into it, here's a brief word from our sponsor.
[00:01:08] Mackey: [00:01:08] The invisible vault is powered by the team at Kyriba the global leader in cloud treasury and finance solutions, empowering CFOs, and their teams to transform how they activate liquidity as a dynamic real-time vehicle for growth and value creation.
[00:01:24] Jaye: [00:01:24] To learn more, visit Kyriba.com.
[00:01:27] Ben: [00:01:27] So please enjoy this interview between Jaye Connolly-LaBelle. Chairman and CEO of ripplenami. And your host, Tom Butta.
[00:01:34] Tom: [00:01:34] This is Tom Butta. I'm the CMO of Kyriba we're here on the invisible vault and I'm here with our producer, Jon. Jon what'd you think of today's episode? Hey Tom.
[00:01:44] I thought
[00:01:45] Jon: [00:01:45] we just had a fascinating interview. We just talked to Jaye Connolly-LaBelle. Um, she's the chairman and CEO of ripple NAMI, and we got some fascinating insights. She's doing some really interesting things that are different from some of the other interviews we've had so far. What did you think of the interview?
[00:01:59] What were some [00:02:00] things that stood out to you?
[00:02:01] Tom: [00:02:01] There were a few, first of all, she's fascinating woman, her perspective on, um, I would say on life and, um, looking beyond oneself to learn and grow is a, was probably at the core of it all. And then specifically she's clearly an advanced user and believer in technology.
[00:02:20] What does she say? If I can automate it, that makes my life better, but the way she's operating her business now is, uh, she literally has the information she needs in real time, literally in real time. Everything that she needs to know. She doesn't have to go asking people. She's got the systems in place, customization in place so that she knows what you need to know us as you can do what she needs to do.
[00:02:43] Yep, absolutely. I
[00:02:44] Jon: [00:02:44] think her adoption of tech and her forward-thinking way she's doing her business and always has even in her past career and mostly in M&A. Really stood out. I think that's fascinating. All right. Well, I'm excited for the audience to hear this. I'm going to, we're going to toss it over and just a moment.
[00:02:58] Please take a moment. [00:03:00] If you, whatever podcast platform you're listening on, please subscribe to the show and leave us a rating and review. If you can. And please tell someone else in finance, who you think might enjoy this show. And let's hear from Jaye Connelly-LaBelle.
[00:03:19] Tom: [00:03:19] Welcome to the invisible Vault. I'm your host, Tom Butta, cmo of Kyriba. And today we're joined by a very special guest. Jaye Connolly-LaBelle. Hi, Jaye. How are you? Hi,
[00:03:29] Jaye: [00:03:29] Tom. I'm great, Tom,
[00:03:30] Tom: [00:03:30] how are you? Good, good, good. So you've got a long career in finance, uh, as a, as a leader of companies as a board director. Can you tell us a little bit about your first job?
[00:03:40] Jaye: [00:03:40] Wow. My first job. So I have an accounting degree from the great state of Texas. And my first job was at Pennzoil oil company and I started the week that the barrel of oil dropped from $35 a barrel down to $12 a barrel. So being low man on the totem pole, 500 people got laid off. The week I started, I was thrown into the fire pan [00:04:00] of things.
[00:04:00] I had no idea what I was doing. So that was my first accounting by a firehose job,
[00:04:06] Tom: [00:04:06] I guess that would have prepared you for many, many other such changes over the
[00:04:10] Jaye: [00:04:10] years. Huh? Yeah. It prepared me for Africa for certain things. Right.
[00:04:14] Tom: [00:04:14] So that's actually a good segue. Can you tell us a little bit about your current company and the scope of your.
[00:04:19] Your role? Absolutely.
[00:04:21] Jaye: [00:04:21] So currently I am chairman and CEO of a company called rippleNAMI. We're based here in San Diego, and we work in Africa with the presidents over there about 15 countries to help them solve really critical issues by deploying technology. And it really surrounds the concept is, look, there's a lot of data over there.
[00:04:42] It's not a very structured data. So therefore unstructured data is very, it's not very meaningful. So we put together ecosystems of data to help them solve really critical issues and create a transparency and traceability system for whether it's a person place or thing. It doesn't matter. And we work with these presidents on very large government [00:05:00] initiatives to grow their middle income so that they become sovereign nations and get off the aid and debt carousel that they've
[00:05:06] Tom: [00:05:06] been on.
[00:05:07] That's fascinating. So enabling productivity, which, which takes pressure off of
[00:05:12] Jaye: [00:05:12] government. And what's great about it. Africa is because they don't have a lot of legacy ICT systems they're willing to put in the latest and greatest tech. So from blockchain to AI, to data visualization, things that in the us, we're a little slower to adopt because of the legacy ICT system.
[00:05:29] They're just like, let's, let's do it. Let's do it. And let's start a e-government. From scratch. So it's a very fast pace ever moving dynamic environment
[00:05:39] Tom: [00:05:39] that we live. Well, I guess that, that shows you the power of, um, of history in some cases, a drag about where you evolve too. Right?
[00:05:47] Jaye: [00:05:47] Exactly. Exactly. So you think about cell phones, everything they do over there, they didn't have landlines or computers.
[00:05:54] They had, they went right to mobile phones. So they're very much more innovative than [00:06:00] we are over here in the
[00:06:01] Tom: [00:06:01] States. I heard that they actually use mobile phones to, uh, they don't use cash. They use their mobile phones for everything to transfer money. Had. Tell us about
[00:06:08] Jaye: [00:06:08] that. Yeah. So before there, you know, cryptocurrency, you've heard about that now with Bitcoin and everything else, but before over there they couldn't get banking.
[00:06:16] They couldn't get access to the banking system. So they all had mobile phones. And with the, the mobile phone operators did is they created mobile money. So let's say you and I were at to dinner and I was home and you're like, Oh, I forgot my wallet. There would be no way for me here to pay for your tab in the U S without me coming to get, give you money in Africa, let's say you're sitting at that same restaurant and you give me the till number from the restaurant and I could mobile money them with an SMS message and pay your tab from home.
[00:06:48] So very innovative. Their cryptocurrency is mobile minutes.
[00:06:52] Tom: [00:06:52] Wow. That's very advanced. Well, that's a good segue into our segment called cash crossroads. [00:07:00] She'll meet him
[00:07:01] Jon: [00:07:01] here. There's Katie
[00:07:02] Ben: [00:07:02] money,
[00:07:03] Jaye: [00:07:03] cash money.
[00:07:04] Ben: [00:07:04] When do we talk about money?
[00:07:07] Tom: [00:07:07] It leads me to want to ask you the question that maybe has to do with your broader experience as both the CFO and a CEO, and that is about digitization and how the office of the CFO.
[00:07:21] Is either current or laggard in that move. What's your view
[00:07:24] Jaye: [00:07:24] of that? I would say right now, CFOs are probably about a 50% digitization rate. The older, the CFO, probably less than 50%, the younger, the CFO, more progressive and more digitization. I think in order to be a successful CFO, you need to have everything at your fingertips and being a CEO of an international company.
[00:07:44] I have everything. Every system we use everything is cloud-based in any given time, whether I'm on an airplane or in the middle of the jungle, I can look and see where we are from a sales perspective, from a project perspective, from a cash perspective, all on my phone.
[00:08:00] [00:08:00] Tom: [00:08:00] Well that must've been hugely valuable.
[00:08:02] Uh, you know, when the pandemic struck in terms of it, certainly as it related to your, you know, to your
[00:08:07] Jaye: [00:08:07] cash. Yes. So we are a company that do not believe in offices. We think offices are limits. Plus we work very late hours, so it makes no sense for us to have an office while we're based here in San Diego.
[00:08:18] We have offices all throughout Africa. So our world did not change in COVID. In fact, people have been complaining about, Oh, I've had to work from home. Like we embrace it cause we can roll out of bed and get started immediately. And then take calls at two or three in the morning, whatever whoever's calling in or whatever issue we've got a triage.
[00:08:36] So during COVID I think it shined a light on the importance of digitization. And I do think you're going to see a very large adoption trend to that end. And you can see that just with zoom alone, right. Zoom was not a popular word back in the day. Now it's everybody. It's now a
[00:08:53] Tom: [00:08:53] noun. Yeah, exactly.
[00:08:55] Unfortunately it is. Um, so [00:09:00] this experience you're having now, I would say that you're more on the leading edge. Right in terms of how you conduct your business, but how has your experience been over the years in terms of particularly as a CFO or as a CEO asking your CFO, you know, where are we? What's our liquidity position.
[00:09:16] What are we able to invest in growth initiatives? How has that changed?
[00:09:21] Jaye: [00:09:21] So, um, and around 2005, my background after accounting, I went to mergers and acquisitions and back in the heyday of the big M and a deals of healthcare, everything was spreadsheet driven up until the early two thousands. And then once I became a CFO's like, I hate doing spreadsheet, so I need to automate this.
[00:09:42] So we actually we're a, uh, AI says company before says, was even a word and artificial intelligence, like who was talking about that in early two thousands. So we embraced from a company perspective, what we were selling to a customer perspective. And I think that's important is to, however your [00:10:00] culture is customer facing.
[00:10:01] You should have the same culture inside your company and leveraging technology. Is the only way to go forward because you can be the most efficient on staff. You have accuracy rates that are in the high nineties, maybe a hundred percent rather than human error. So I don't know why. I think people are intimidated by technology sometimes.
[00:10:23] CFOs are paper. They like a lot of paper. We are a paperless company as well. So you're going to start to see the trend. I think COVID has helped out digitization. And I do think, um, the global economy and the fast pace that we're moving with technology has helped out to get the CFOs more apt to adopt.
[00:10:44] Tom: [00:10:44] Do you think it takes these big disruptions, like the pandemic to get people to wake up or you think it's a lot of factors? I
[00:10:51] Jaye: [00:10:51] look at every movement as a three legged stool, right? I think it's one of them. I do think Silicon Valley has driven us hard on technology, [00:11:00] which is great. And as my 86 year old father is each year, he tells me, please don't get me any technology.
[00:11:05] I'm tired of learning. And I said, well, that just tells me you need something new. So he's got every device. So I'm figuring if he can do it. Why can't these? It are guys. So I think it's one leg of the stool, the COVID pandemic, where the world's shut down. What do you do? You gotta be able to do your job so people in America, I think figured it out
[00:11:25] Tom: [00:11:25] well.
[00:11:25] Yeah. And I suppose. We and, uh, you know, China apparently, you know, have, have advanced pretty quickly through this leveraging the resources we have. So a lot of that has to do with, I suppose, automation. And, uh, automation is probably something that provides great efficiency. So a CFO can understand that, but it's probably a little bit scary because automation perhaps means losing control.
[00:11:49] Would you say that's maybe part of it,
[00:11:51] Jaye: [00:11:51] there's a fear that they don't have control and what if there's errors and what about, you know, cybersecurity? I mean, there's a lot of concerns, but. [00:12:00] Look, technology companies know how to triage all this. If you pick the right partner, the right technology partner, and you set out to address all those fears up front, it actually becomes a benefit and there, but there's a lot of fear that is going to replace me, or I can't get these many FTEs.
[00:12:16] If I. Use this new technology. I can have a treasurer and a director of finance and a controller or whatever. It's a fear base. So for our technology companies, you have to address those fears upfront. And we deal with this all day long as I'm sure you guys do too, is to put it at ease. You know, implementations have historically been at a terrible process when you're changing into a new ERP system or accounting system or a billing system, whatever it is, it has been painful in the past.
[00:12:44] But I think technology companies we've gotten
[00:12:46] Tom: [00:12:46] better. That's interesting. We actually just got off a call with a Gartner analyst. Who's responsible for doing research in the ERP space. And he said that they have in the last month had the most [00:13:00] inbound calls that they have ever had. As it relates to this, you know,
[00:13:04] Jaye: [00:13:04] migration surprise me.
[00:13:06] We just, we always, we're always constantly upgrading and planning for the next five years to the systems we have today. Well, they suffice in our, our growth in five years. So we're constantly, always looking out there internally as to what, what do we need to be adjusting to? How
[00:13:22] Tom: [00:13:22] far out in advance do you do your planning?
[00:13:24] Especially as it relates to perhaps liquidity, uh
[00:13:27] Jaye: [00:13:27] we're on a daily basis. Um, it's very complicated, uh, uh, to do international banking in Africa. We manage, I don't know how many accounts, but when you go to Africa and you sign a contract in that country, you have to set up a company, you have to have bank accounts, you have to have us bank accounts.
[00:13:47] You have to have the current currency. So I'm just in one transaction. We had, we have six different bank accounts. And then on the inbound, we have us banks that won't deal with certain [00:14:00] countries. Because of OFAC issues or perceive OFAC issues. So you have to have several us banks that will deal with this country or that country.
[00:14:08] So liquidity, just putting your finger on that pulse is a very time consuming. If you don't have technology. My director, every time I go somewhere, she goes, how many more bank accounts do we need to set? She's gone. And with all the different currencies, it's a pain. If you're doing this manually, you can't, it can't be done.
[00:14:27] So from a liquidity standpoint, moving money from point a to point B does take time. And when we move money from the U S to Africa, we can, uh, the transfer international transfer desk will sit on the wires up to attend to three weeks, depending on what the currency rate is and translation, because they want to get the best rate.
[00:14:47] So they'll sit on it. We had, we waited, we've waited three weeks for a simple wire to hit our one bank account from the us to the Africa bank account.
[00:14:56] Tom: [00:14:56] That's amazing. Uh, I just saw that the, uh, you know, they've been [00:15:00] increasing the amount of daily allowance of the amount of money that you can transfer vis-a-vis on ACH.
[00:15:05] And, um, I think it's a hundred thousand now, and I've heard that it may go up to a million, which makes, makes complete sense because there's other means with which you can do that today. Right? So the banks hopefully are copping on, but this idea of like keeping track of. These bank accounts, particularly, you know, when you were in these global companies that were involved in a lot of M and a, I'm sure you had hundreds of banks that you were dealing with, was that part of the due diligence process, which is, you know, how do we actually make all of this, like strategically this deal makes sense, but actually, how do we make the business operate?
[00:15:42] Were you involved in that as you were putting deals together? Absolutely.
[00:15:46] Jaye: [00:15:46] So my role was not only doing the deal, but then living with it for a year and being the operator to ensure that this the deals made their synergies, which is the number one name of the game in town for public companies. [00:16:00] Um, so technology was always, um, missing, I would say in healthcare.
[00:16:05] The billing side was always pretty robust, but from a financial side, it was a mess. And so part of the first 90 day implementation plan for all finance was to assess what systems they had if they had any nine times out of 10 and I'm talking very large companies, you would know. The name, if I said them, um, they did everything on spreadsheets, everything.
[00:16:27] And normally what we did is when we acquired companies, we would eliminate all admin back office functions and migrate them to ours. So as the, the main company they acquire, we had to have really robust systems that we could quickly implement. Otherwise that takes away from the synergies. Right. The synergy plan.
[00:16:46] So didn't have a lot of automation back in the good old healthcare days.
[00:16:52] Tom: [00:16:52] Your plan was that you had, you had figured out this, if you would call it a centralized system, that you then [00:17:00] forced your, uh, acquiring companies to go on. I'm sure that transition must have been a bit chaotic.
[00:17:05] Jaye: [00:17:05] No, actually, no, in an acquisition, the key is on day one.
[00:17:08] You know, if you can tell everyone what their roles are going to be, it actually becomes, and you have a plan. You must have a plan. And always on day one, we would separate the people in the three groups, kind of like American idol. Like you get to stay and you get to keep your job. We had another group that said, you're going to have your job for six months and here's the objectives we need you to hit.
[00:17:28] And the last group would say you're terminated immediately. So it was kind of a, you know, Oh three rooms of people, but everyone had a clear plan, objective. They were bonused accordingly. We had very smooth transactions because we had a plan in place and the whole key was back then you had to have synergy.
[00:17:47] So you had to automate as much as you could possibly do with the resources we had.
[00:17:52] Tom: [00:17:52] Sounds like you're really
[00:17:53] Jaye: [00:17:53] good at it. It was fun. Well, I went to live with it, doing a deal is easy, making it work as hard. [00:18:00] Oh,
[00:18:00] Tom: [00:18:00] love, I love that you, you not only brought the deal to the table and took it through the acquisition phase, but then you were responsible for ensuring that it operated.
[00:18:10] In accordance with what you, it was you, you thought you bought, right?
[00:18:14] Jaye: [00:18:14] Exactly. And, and you lose so much in a deal. I know we're not here to talk about deals, but you lose so much knowledge between doing a deal and implementing a deal. There's that knowledge transfer. When the deal team, hands it over to the operators, there's just a gap.
[00:18:27] And when you're eating, living, and breathing with this deal for six to nine months, whatever it takes and going through sec and DOJ and all kinds of clearances, you learn a lot. And that knowledge you just can't transfer over and you learn about the people, the culture, and, uh, 50% of deals fail just because of culture.
[00:18:48] They, no one assesses like what the cultures are. So you learn the hard way and you get smarter each deal. And it's okay to say, no, we're not going to do this, but very hard [00:19:00] conversations with current. Especially finance teams. Cause you know, they have their little kingdoms and it's hard to pry things out of their hands, but you'll learn a lot in diligence during that process.
[00:19:11] Tom: [00:19:11] So you mentioned before that the, the rate of Cola technology adoption is much higher. The younger, the CFO, and a little bit slower, the older, the CFO, how much are those call them older CFOs or operating a companies? How much do you think they're at
[00:19:28] Jaye: [00:19:28] risk? Well, if you ask them, they don't think they're at risk at all.
[00:19:31] Right. Because they know everything. But I do think there's a blind side. I do believe there is risk because they don't know real time. Those that haven't adopted real time, what's really going on. So they don't really have their finger on the pulse, which is what you want. As the CFO. You are the finance, you are the you're the organization that keeps the lights on in a company.
[00:19:50] It's the most important part of the organization. And while you have audit committee chairs, et cetera, et cetera, that's ticking and tying and you know, good Sarbanes-Oxley [00:20:00] compliance, et cetera. That's not. Good process. And they do a lot of a control testing, but it's still not good. You know, the process is not looked at so good.
[00:20:08] CFOs will sit back and listen to their. Less experienced, probably more innovative team members. The older the CFO will sit back and just listen to himself or herself.
[00:20:20] Tom: [00:20:20] That's actually an interesting segment to get into, um, around this idea of, uh, of a playbook.
[00:20:25] Ben: [00:20:25] You hand me an idea that I can shock the
[00:20:28] Jaye: [00:20:28] world with.
[00:20:28] I got one more page in my playbook.
[00:20:31] Ben: [00:20:31] I get out
[00:20:31] Jaye: [00:20:31] there
[00:20:32] Ben: [00:20:32] and do it.
[00:20:37] Tom: [00:20:37] What role do you think data plays in the life of a CFO?
[00:20:41] Jaye: [00:20:41] It's everything right? I'm a believer in data, our name ripple NAMI. It's a ripple of data. It turns to a tsunami of information. So data on a spreadsheet is meaningless data in a real-time dashboard is powerful. Right. If I have to go hunt and look for what I need, or if I can build an [00:21:00] AI business intelligence tool that tells me here's what I need and Oh, alert, alert.
[00:21:04] I don't know how many notifications I get, but I do like it when there's ever anything wrong. I get a notification, even though it goes to my team, I get it as well. So that I'm in the know. And you have to have your finger on the pulse and it is data-driven.
[00:21:18] Tom: [00:21:18] So when you say real time, is it real, real?
[00:21:22] Jaye: [00:21:22] Ours is, yeah, it is real time.
[00:21:24] It is real time.
[00:21:25] Tom: [00:21:25] That's great. Yeah. Uh, I, I came from a company that, that actually had a streaming technology that allowed companies to monitor the performance of their software. Right. And so alerts were sent within, you know, a second. If there was any anomalous behavior and it sounds like that's what you've got set up.
[00:21:42] That's pretty advanced relative to your peers. Isn't it?
[00:21:46] Jaye: [00:21:46] There's no one, there's no one doing what we're doing in Africa and automation. And I'll tell you like really simple stuff, but for Africa it's life-changing right. Cattle is a major industry over there and we have real time [00:22:00] solar tags on the cows.
[00:22:01] That can tell you that are solar powered and low orbital satellite. So that's the only thing you need is that solar tag and can tell you real time if the temperature drops on the cow, if it's Gates pickup, if it, uh, has no heartbeat, um, these are all these AI applications so that you can sell real time.
[00:22:20] What's going on with the herd and react. Um, so we're doing it on cattle. We're doing it with bees and we're doing a traceability on any thing, person, place or thing. It is the future. You're going to hear about more and more. It's all about traceability and transparency. And there's no excuse for the modern CFO not to
[00:22:43] Tom: [00:22:43] embrace.
[00:22:43] So traceability and transparency. Correct. Can you dig into each of those?
[00:22:48] Jaye: [00:22:48] Sure. So traceability. So, you know, you have an abundance of data, but if you can't see where's it coming from and where is it going? You can actually see it through a whole life cycle. Uh, we use blockchain. [00:23:00] We store our data in blockchain because that right now is the single source of truth.
[00:23:04] And through this single source of truth, you can actually store very secure data there and you can in it, you can never delete a record. You can only amend a record. And what it does for us. It shows us, I'll give you an example for land in Africa, they don't have land titles. And if they do they're, paper-based sitting in a drawer, you don't know who owns the property.
[00:23:27] You don't know how much the property is value the whole, that whole ecosystem of real estate that no one thinks about. There's no proper addresses. You don't know if they're paying taxes, you have to put that whole system together. So there's a visibility. From the government's perspective from the minister of land, from the local council.
[00:23:44] So you can see what the issues are, because if you don't know, you don't have meaningful data in front of you, you can't solve a problem. So that's the traceability perspective. It's from, from point a to point Z, can I see this piece of data in every stage of its [00:24:00] life? The transparency gives you that security that you need.
[00:24:05] And that so anybody can look in, and it's not a second system. It's not a system that you can't trust, but it is visible to whether it's whoever the end consumer is. So I just got off a call this morning with, uh, Kenya on their livestock and they have an issue with the consumer farm to food, to the consumer, and they want a QR code, everything, and that's easily done.
[00:24:29] But it starts with the farmer. You're going to hear this more and more about traceability and transparency. It's coming through every organization. Uh, the climate summit was this week, today, uh, yesterday and today there's actually companies out there now tracking emissions in the air real time. This is the next buzzword blockchain.
[00:24:49] AI is kind of behind yet. It's going to be traceability and transparency
[00:24:52] Tom: [00:24:52] now. I mean, I want to come back to the blockchain just a minute, but I want to ask you about this, this idea of transparency, which may be another, another word [00:25:00] might be visibility. So it sounds to me like you have visibility in real time into all of the things that you need to know, especially say your liquidity position and state of your relationships with banks and the state of the businesses that you support.
[00:25:15] Visibility enables you to know more. And then by knowing more, you're able to do more. And in real time,
[00:25:23] Jaye: [00:25:23] correct. So it's smart data, right? It's smart. Now. It's not just a, some flat piece of data sitting in someone's computer that they've emailed you the file and you haven't opened it cause there's a hundred emails in it.
[00:25:34] I've heard of it
[00:25:35] Tom: [00:25:35] is the information that you get, which sounds like it's the information that you need to know. Is that something that you have to customize?
[00:25:43] Jaye: [00:25:43] We do, we customize it. We customize it for ourselves and for our customer, because what's meaningful to you is not meaningful to me. Right? So our, even though we could be in the same company, we have two different views, two different purviews, two different purposes.
[00:25:57] So when I'm working in a [00:26:00] government, I'm working across 10 different ministries, what's important to the minister of finance is not important to the minister of ag, but the real is trying to solve issues and they both need some parts of that data. So we do customize their look and feel and give them as much as they need.
[00:26:17] And that's what blockchain allows you to do as well. It's permission-based so I can give you access to this five pieces of data in this database and your counterpart only needs to have another piece. So it gives you the permit.
[00:26:31] Tom: [00:26:31] Can you talk a little bit about blockchain? Because obviously it's a, it is the thing that everyone's talking about these days.
[00:26:38] Jaye: [00:26:38] it's the latest thing. So not a lot of applications have been a lot of talk, a lot of marketing. I will tell you, we just implemented the first blockchain enabled tax system ever in the world. And it was in Uganda and we did it and they were very keen on blockchain. And we were just kinda like, Oh, you know, it's just another buzzword.
[00:26:57] And we started looking into it. And what we like about it is the [00:27:00] cryptology. And, you know, back in the CIA days, they create a blockchain a long time ago for cytology, for the cryptology, not the cryptocurrency. And then it became famous through Bitcoin, right? So it has a pretty negative connotation of the dark web and all this stuff.
[00:27:17] But now you're seeing the Elon Musk and everybody's. Putting out more cryptocurrency. So there's a cryptocurrency side, which we just work with whatever. There's so many cryptocurrencies out there. We just worked with him ever. But on the cryptology side, we found it important because of the easy to trace and easy to audit.
[00:27:35] Well, I'm going to say this now and someone's going to hack it. Um, but right now it's unhackable, but you know, I always say leave it to Africa. They'll figure out a way. So we sit on top of whatever the latest and greatest technology is. I met recently with the former CTO of Microsoft and he was telling me about his next big venture that he's pushing out, which is going to replace blockchain.
[00:27:56] I'm like, Hey, we look forward to working with it, whatever it is.
[00:28:00] [00:27:59] Tom: [00:27:59] Wow. I had the pleasure of working within Andreessen Horowitz for a year and listened to a lot of what Mark Andreessen was saying and what he was seeing. Um, obviously he. Yeah, he was early in the internet. He then talked about software's eating the world, which obviously has proven to be true.
[00:28:17] And he was super bullish on blockchain. And, you know, he sees blockchain is like, there's the internet and then there's blockchain. And, um, as a fundamental infrastructure thinks it's, um, you know, it's unparalleled, it's fascinating and ironic at the same time that here you are. Working in an emerging market like Africa, and yet you are leveraging the most advanced real time technologies.
[00:28:42] You're leveraging blockchain. I just find it. I just find that ironic. I, you would think that you wouldn't be like that.
[00:28:49] Jaye: [00:28:49] Yeah, I agree. So when you go over and I heard this a lot, when we were seven years ago, when we started this, I had a lot of us. Investors tell me, well, you don't know Africa, they don't have cell [00:29:00] phones and I'm like, you're right.
[00:29:01] They don't have a cell phone. They each have about three cell phones because one gives better data. One has a better rate on text. So when we sit down to dinner, we actually asked for an extra. Seating just so everybody can put their cell phones out and there's like three 30 cell phones and a dinner of 10 people.
[00:29:18] But like I said, they had, they didn't have legacy yeah. ICT system. So that's why we love it is a Greenfield for technology companies. And I preach this to everyone. I speak to. When they say, Oh, you know, business is hard in the States. I'm like, you're right. Think outside the USA block, just go outside in the global world and you will see advancement and amazement.
[00:29:38] Even when you talk to Africans, they don't think they're that innovative until I point out what they're doing. They're like, Oh, well, yeah, we had to, we couldn't, we couldn't get a bank account or, you know, we didn't have access. They don't have access to liquidity. They don't, there's no such thing as a house mortgage.
[00:29:54] Because they pay cash for everything because a mortgage, you, how are you gonna evaluation? You don't even know who owned the property. You [00:30:00] don't, there's no valuations and nothing. So if you get a mortgage, it's like a 30% mortgage rate, like who's going to do that. Just pay you cash. Sounds
[00:30:08] Tom: [00:30:08] like you've been pretty advanced from a technology standpoint in your career.
[00:30:12] Did you have to really relearn things. Did you learn lessons from working with folks in Africa?
[00:30:18] Jaye: [00:30:18] No. I've kind of grown up. I have a undergrad. I have a, I have two, two degrees in accounting and software. Back from the eighties. Can you imagine the software tech I was doing?
[00:30:31] Right. A lot of Lotus
[00:30:35] Tom: [00:30:35] Lotus one, two, three, but
[00:30:37] Jaye: [00:30:37] even like Coldwell, I mean, it was just the green screen of death. Right? The little blinking green screen. So I've embraced it because number one, I'm a little bit on the, um, I don't want to really do the hard work. I'd rather have technology to it for me because I trusted I can move faster.
[00:30:55] So I've always embraced it. And then the companies I've been with, like artificial intelligence, [00:31:00] this company I took over as CEO, it was, it's been around since 1994. In health care and ended up selling it in 2010, I sold it to United healthcare. It's the core of all their systems. So you don't think of these technologies.
[00:31:14] We're talking about that you think of them as the new. Now it's just, we're using them now in a modern day and they become more mainstream or talking about a more, I will tell you on blockchain, there's a lot of talk about it. I haven't seen a lot of the usage. I see a lot of good marketing, a lot of good marketing, which I've stolen some of it, but not a lot of usage.
[00:31:34] So we're just kind of shutting our mouths, doing it. And then we talk about it. So for me personally, I'm a tech theme and that's just my culture that I grew up in. So it wasn't difficult for me because it made my life easier. And I'm all about making my life easier.
[00:31:49] Tom: [00:31:49] Let's move into our next segment. It's called report from the future roads
[00:31:54] Jaye: [00:31:54] going.
[00:31:55] We don't need roads.
[00:31:58] Ben: [00:31:58] I see the future.
[00:31:59] Jaye: [00:31:59] The [00:32:00] future is the finish
[00:32:00] Ben: [00:32:00] line.
[00:32:01] Jaye: [00:32:01] Always believes this world is what we make of it.
[00:32:06] Tom: [00:32:06] You've talked a lot about Africa, obviously, you've, I'm sure had a lot of opportunities to go and run many companies. You know, what, what do you see as the financial landscape in Africa looking like and, and say, uh, you know, 10 years.
[00:32:21] Jaye: [00:32:21] So in 2030, they will have the largest marketplace in the world right now.
[00:32:26] And people think of Africa. Wait,
[00:32:28] Tom: [00:32:28] wait, can you just restate? That's a very big statement.
[00:32:32] Jaye: [00:32:32] That's a very big statement. They in 2030. They will have the largest marketplace in the world. That's because, and I'll tell you why 60% of the population is under 15 years old right now. So they're going to enter the marketplace here soon.
[00:32:46] So that's why creating jobs create. And I'll tell you, we only hire people that are from the country that we're in and they are talented, talented, talented kids and hungry, and they have [00:33:00] unemployment rates up to 70% in some countries. So that marketplace it's coming, they have an excess, a workforce that's very well-educated, uh, masters normally is the, the minimum education they have and they are hungry for business and they are very innovative.
[00:33:18] Tom: [00:33:18] Oh there technical schools, like, uh, you know, technical universities.
[00:33:22] Jaye: [00:33:22] Yeah. We've had some of our best engineers are, uh, from those universities. They're unbelievable. And they're not the type that just learned this. They're like, Oh, well, one of my clients was Chinese. So I went and learned Mandarin, you know, so I could communicate.
[00:33:35] I mean, they're always like, how can I make this better? And we always promote within. And, uh, people that have been with me have been with, with me at four different companies. So we're constantly like growing people up through the ranks. And I love to see that the lights come on in their eyes and like, what else can we do?
[00:33:53] I know work. They're very hard workers and very appreciative of the work.
[00:33:58] Tom: [00:33:58] So, um, [00:34:00] do you have a CFO? I do as the next CFO. Um, how, how challenging is it for that CFO to do their job?
[00:34:08] Jaye: [00:34:08] Not at all. We've been, we've worked together for four companies. Like I said, we all have a cadence. My executive team, we've been together three to four companies.
[00:34:16] So they know we all have strengths and weaknesses. We know how to cover each other's and we really work as a symbiotic team. It's very
[00:34:23] Tom: [00:34:23] nice. Okay. So, so the advice is if you've been and done well with, with Jay, you should stick with Jay, but, okay. That's good. So I'm going to ask you, so what advice would you give to a first time CFO?
[00:34:37] Jaye: [00:34:37] First time CFO, uh, go in and do your audit, know what you're getting into? I'm a former auditor as well. So I like to look at the whole entire process and see how I can improve it. Process improvement, whether it's a technology, whether it's a person, whether it's whatever that resource is, is to streamline your process from top to bottom.
[00:34:57] And I think that's important for a first [00:35:00] time, CFO. I think you need to have a peer group. There's a lot of CFO round tables out there. You need to be part of that. And lean on your vendors. Your vendors will educate you when others can't, because they are seeing things differently outside your world and learn from them and your service providers.
[00:35:16] I would say service provider vendors, pure groups, and really audit your company when you walk in there. So, you know what you've, what's the good, the bad. And
[00:35:24] Tom: [00:35:24] yet I would imagine one of the biggest challenges is making time to do that. Right. Especially, I could see audit, audit being important, maybe even your size or your consultants, but when it comes to like talking to 'em having been on the sort of provider side, making time for a CFO to meet with the quote vendors, I haven't seen their willingness to do that.
[00:35:49] Jaye: [00:35:49] I'll tell you those are probably guys reluctant girls or guys reluctant to use technology then. So
[00:35:54] Tom: [00:35:54] for a first time, CFO, you're saying absolutely do it. Good. Do it.
[00:35:58] Jaye: [00:35:58] Yeah. Yeah. Make it, make it [00:36:00] a habit. I there's not, and my rule is, look, if someone's going to inbound me an email, I'm going to respond. I'm going to respond.
[00:36:07] I'm not going to ignore. Always say, no, thank you. Thanks for reaching out. But something I'm that interested in. I'll listen, because anybody that says, Hey, I've got a solution that can make your job better. I'm going to listen. Now whether I give them five minutes or an hour, that depends on what my needs are.
[00:36:24] But I'm always going to listen. I think you need to, as a CFO, your observer are listening. You're always learning and we're very much debit credits, right? Wrong, no gray area. I mean, that's our mind, how, how we think, but process improvement. You've got to, you've got to have your finger on that pulse. You need to leverage the technology providers good or bad, whether you have them.
[00:36:44] Are they working? Are they not? I mean, it's okay to challenge current systems. When you
[00:36:47] Tom: [00:36:47] walk in. As a first time CFO for yourself, you talked before about his peer groups. Did you rely on other CFOs people who've been in the job before you? How, how powerful was the network?
[00:37:00] [00:37:00] Jaye: [00:37:00] It's very powerful. And I'll tell you, especially here in San Diego, there's a very powerful CFO.
[00:37:06] Roundtable and the value they bring is invaluable because sometimes you don't know the answer and you're kind of embarrassed like that. I don't know what to do. You can't go to your person below you can't go to CEO. Like where do you go? You can't go to your auditors so you can pick up the phone and, and call these really good resources.
[00:37:24] Like, Oh, I've already had that. This is what I would do. I'm like, okay, cool. Thanks. Um, cause you did get the imposter syndrome when you become a first time, see anything, right? How did I get here? What am I, what am I supposed to do? But you can learn the ropes very quickly.
[00:37:40] Tom: [00:37:40] So what's the opposite of the impostor syndrome for the.
[00:37:43] Someone who's been a long time. CFO.
[00:37:46] Jaye: [00:37:46] What is that called? I don't know.
[00:37:49] Tom: [00:37:49] So
[00:37:49] Jaye: [00:37:49] until I retire, what is it? The Peter principle lived here outlived your useful life. Uh, you've been fully depreciated. I [00:38:00] believe that's the term. We would use an accounting.
[00:38:02] Tom: [00:38:02] Okay. You know, here we are, um, basically with this, you know, force majeure that causing us to rethink things, uh, act differently, move faster, whatever it might be.
[00:38:13] So what advice would you give for a long time CFO?
[00:38:16] Jaye: [00:38:16] Think outside your comfortable box. Like if something is not working, dig into it a little bit more or ask questions that you normally wouldn't ask, because you could become very routine and accounting. You have month end, you have financials. It becomes very mundane.
[00:38:31] And then once in a while, you just want to dig in a little bit more and say, well, let's talk about liquidity. Like how recent all these reports are we just waiting for bank statements to come in at the end and every month what's our forecasting tools look like, how good are we at budgeting? I just think you need to ask a little bit more thought provoking questions if you've been there awhile.
[00:38:50] Tom: [00:38:50] Okay. Just maybe jumping ahead here. If we brought you back here in 12 months, what do you think will have changed in the world of
[00:38:57] Jaye: [00:38:57] finance? There'll be more automation [00:39:00] and less office time and more Zen. I think that's when I think this is going to continue, which is better when you're conducting business globally.
[00:39:09] And I will tell you, we also work in Europe, but they like FaceTime. They like to sit down and get to know ya and blah, blah, blah. Well, with COVID it saved me a lot of plane time. And, um, I can have a call like I did today. I had five different countries at seven in the morning and didn't miss a beat. I would have normally had a fly out there coordinator by schedule and it would've taken me a month
[00:39:34] Tom: [00:39:34] to get it done.
[00:39:35] Are you always on camera during the
[00:39:37] Jaye: [00:39:37] zoom? No, I'm never on camera and we never were. And now this has become a trend for these Americans are like, why do you need to see me? So now we have fake offices in our background. We, I, if I could find a filter for my face. That's an innovation somebody has got to create, [00:40:00] please.
[00:40:00] Tom: [00:40:00] So we should all invest in really good chairs. Exactly. Okay. Um, okay. This has been great, but we have one more segment left. It's the segment around quick hits. Quick, quick. All right. What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
[00:40:16] Jaye: [00:40:16] What would I be doing? Exploring the world. That's what I do. That's my passion is going into developing countries, emerging nations and understanding their culture and how people that have nothing are so damn happy.
[00:40:30] Hm that's that's really level-setting
[00:40:32] Tom: [00:40:32] for me. Have you done a lot of traveling in your life?
[00:40:34] Jaye: [00:40:34] Yes. Yes. Yes. My goal is to get to every country before I die.
[00:40:39] Tom: [00:40:39] What were some places that really moved you in this, in this regard,
[00:40:44] Jaye: [00:40:44] one of the first places was eerie and Jaye, which is the Indonesian side of, uh, new Guinea.
[00:40:51] And, um, uh, we stayed with this tribe called the YALI tribe. And they had absolutely nothing like eight taro root. They all had extended [00:41:00] ballets. Uh, the chief always gave his cut up to us. Uh, we hiked for three weeks in the, in the, in the land of, they called it the hot zone. And I come to find out the hot zone meant that they were still practicing cannibalism.
[00:41:14] And I asked them, why do you eat people? Like we only eat our enemies and we all just take a little piece. Cause it takes the power away. But they were the happiest people. Couldn't have been nicer to us and never gave us a moment, uh, free. So everything we did was watched everything, but the first time they'd ever seen their selves in a camera, it was just a, it was a truly, when we're in this fast paced world that we live in, we have all the gadgets and gizmos and everything to go there and see people have nothing and are happy.
[00:41:42] It really does take you back to where you like, okay, I'm gonna appreciate life a little bit better and slow down a
[00:41:47] Tom: [00:41:47] little bit more. Wow. That's a great lesson. So, uh, that leads me to a question about book. You may be reading or show you're streaming, but, and by the way, it could be free. It can be frivolous.
[00:41:59] It doesn't [00:42:00] have to be at the level that you just described.
[00:42:05] Jaye: [00:42:05] No, no, absolutely. I'm reading, uh, uh, uh, possible right now beyond possible, which is a book about NIMS day who just climbed the 14, 8,000 meter mountains in less than I think four months, six months. And I was in Mount Everest when he was there climbing a couple of those and did two rescues by the way.
[00:42:25] And he was not a client. Wow.
[00:42:27] Tom: [00:42:27] What was so, so I had me at Everest. Um, w what were you doing in Mount Everest?
[00:42:33] Jaye: [00:42:33] His dream was always to hike to base camp. And so we went with an expedition team, cause it's the only way you can stay at base camp. And we hike there and I did the first rotation with them. Which was 20,000 feet, lot of shade peak.
[00:42:47] And then after that, the team, uh, it was two years ago. That was when 12 people died in two days out of the expedition team, eight out of the 15 made it no one died and three women out of it were out of the eight. So that [00:43:00] was pretty cool.
[00:43:01] Tom: [00:43:01] Wow. Wow. How long did you train for
[00:43:04] Jaye: [00:43:04] that? I didn't train at all. I called it fresh legs.
[00:43:09] I was stuck in Malawi, so I couldn't train my husband trained a lot. And you know, you just. I was an athlete all my life. So no I went with fresh legs is what we called it.
[00:43:21] Tom: [00:43:21] That's great. Well, I th I think I'm going to leave it on that note. Uh, thanks, Jaye. This has been really terrific. You have a remarkable perspective on life and, um, and a fantastic career.
[00:43:33] And I expect that you'll be largely, or at least partially responsible for making your vision of what African become a possible.
[00:43:42] Jaye: [00:43:42] I appreciate the time. Thank you.
[00:43:46] Ben: [00:43:46] Thank you for listening to the invisible vault. If you're enjoying the show, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, and review and share it with someone who you think might enjoy it.
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