#130: Solving For The Pervasiveness Of Spreadsheets in Finance

with Brian Donnelly

Our Guest Mentor:

Brian Donnelly is CEO & Founder of Synapse which uses innovative Cloud technology to provide bespoke spreadsheet solutions that provides simultaneous multi-user functionality around consolidation of spreadsheets enabling one version of the truth on every desktop.

Previously Brian started and led a number of Venture Capital backed organisations in Silicon Valley, USA & the UK following a stint out of college working at the British Tax Authorities on their databases.

Brian holds an MSc in Computer Science and lives in Birmingham, England with his family.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

 “[On the importance of building teams with great people] You can build a silk purse from a sow’s ear but wouldn’t it be easier to start with silk.” [09:29]

 “[On how to make an impact in presentations]. Get to the point, less works.” [25:49]

“[On the perception of Accountants] Accountants tell me that sometimes they’re viewed as pathologists telling you all about the reason someone has died and what you want the future to actually be is physicians to say well let’s do this.” [27:45]

(Other resources and how to connect with Brian below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • The idea of data lineage and Brian deconstructs for us the Information Value Chain concept and the importance of optimising it.
  • Two reasons why finance professionals ideally placed to improve data quality.
  • Why some data elements are more critical than others and how to identify them.

Time Stamped Show Notes

[02:14] – Brian shares his career journey from building databases at the British Tax Authority (Inland Revenue / HMRC) to setting up a database implementation company, raising finance from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to leading a fintech business.

[04:47] – Brian shares an important lesson gained from his investment pitches.

[06:09] – The importance of getting to the point and having great people as Brian shares a story of a presenter with 3 slides versus another one with 45 slides.

[10:47] – What’s exciting Brian most about his current work.

[13:48] – The two minimum criteria to look for when hiring in great people.

[16:19] – Why Finance are allergic to sales people,

[17:24] – Why the entire world of Finance is built upon spreadsheets and the tension between Finance & IT.

[22:39] – Brian & I discuss why Finance is guilty of underselling its impact.

[24:37] – The best bit of advice Brian has ever received

[26:44] – The resources Brian recommends

[29:52] – How best to connect with Brian.

Resources Mentioned:


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