The 6 a.m. CFO: How PharmChem’s Shana Veale Starts Her Day

As the earliest riser in our CFO series thus far, she even wakes before "the beasts."
The 6 a.m. CFO:  How PharmChem’s Shana Veale Starts Her Day

Welcome to The 6 a.m. CFO, where finance chiefs share how they jump-start their days and engage with the tasks in front of them.

Today, PharmChem’s CFO Shana Veale shares the many hats she wears as CFO, who keeps her company during her long hours in the office, and what time she starts her day. (Hint: It’s what many consider the middle of the night). 

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  • Manufactures and distributes PharmChek® Drugs of Abuse Sweat Patch a device for long-term and continuous drug testing.

  • Founded: 1971 

  • Size: 11 employees

  • Assets: $6.2 million in net assets

Morning Routine

Weekday wake-up time and the first thing I like to do: On days I work out, my alarm is set for 3:20 a.m. (up no later than 3:40). On days I don’t, I am up between 4:45/5 a.m. My current workouts are indoor cycling, walking, and stretching.

On days I don’t work out, the first thing I do is jump in the shower and get ready for the day and then I wake up the beasts (three dogs — two 1-year-old bulldog brothers and one 14-year-old chihuahua).  

Bear, Charly, and Bruce

Coffee, tea, or other morning beverage choice: At home, I enjoy Dunkin Donuts’ original blend coffee with Coffee-mate creamer (flavors differ depending on my mood and seasonal flavors available). Right now, I’m using the Rice Krispies flavor.

Sometimes on my way into the office, I’ll stop and get a Starbucks nitro cold brew with sweet cream.  

Workday start time: I prefer to be at my desk by 7 a.m. (on work-from-home days) or 7:45 a.m. on days I’m in the office.

How I usually spend the first hour of my day: The first hour is spent on responding to emails, any tasks that came in overnight via email, and pulling down the bank activity and posting it to customer accounts.  

Time I send out my first email: I try not to send any before 7 a.m., but if someone sends me something that morning, then I know they are up and I’ll reply.

Or, if it is a super quick response and I can do it from my phone over breakfast, then I’ll reply between 6 to 7 a.m., or right when I get up.

Best advice for writing an effective email: I make it a habit to include all the information I think someone would need. That way, if I’m not available when they get back to my email, I’ve already provided them with all the information needed to hopefully answer their questions.

Also, re-read your emails, especially if they are written in frustration.

First dashboard I review: The first thing I open before I even get to my desk is my Outlook calendar to see if I have any Zoom/Teams meetings — which lets me determine if I need to wear a nice shirt and no hat that day.

When I get to my computer, I look at my NetSuite home reminders dashboard.

How I structure my morning meetings: As a finance department of one in a company of 11 folks, I don’t have a standing team/company meeting.

But, if I were to have morning meetings, I’d want to get everyone’s to-dos for that day/week, timelines for those to-dos, and any open questions. I’d also ask what was needed from me.

Mid-morning snack of choice: It isn’t fruit, I’ll tell you that! 😊 I’m a big carb lover, so if there are chips in the house, I’ll make myself some quick unfancy nachos: chips, cheese, and salsa.  

Leadership and Inspiration

Favorite quote or mantra: I honestly have a few: 

“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

“Others’ opinion of me doesn’t matter.”

“Never let others determine your mood.” 

Favorite leadership lesson: I don’t know if this counts, but how I lead a team is by never asking someone to do something that I would not/have not done myself. No matter what my title may be, I’m not above doing anything, including taking the trash out.

  Shana Veale on her Harley

Something important to know about me that you wouldn’t know from my business bio: Oh, there are so many things. My hobbies include riding motorcycles, shooting guns/bows, learning how to play pool, and dancing/singing. I also love Halloween and scary movies.  

What was the last job you did at your company that fell outside your traditional scope of work: Being a small corporation, I wear lots of hats.

When we were implementing NetSuite and going through the design and customization phase, I was a major part of that team, and am now the NetSuite administrator for our company.

I also am the one that goes to the store to stock our shelves/fridge with snacks, water, and plates/utensils. I do take special requests.

Can you share one way in which you have learned to manage work-induced stress: The way that I manage any kind of stress is by driving and listening/singing along to loud music.

My genre of choice is hard rock, but I also like a wide range of music types, from country to pop to metal. 

Favorite number: That is an interesting question. I guess I tend to lean toward the numbers 7 and 14. I really don’t have a reason why; they are just two numbers that I say a lot.   

Most noteworthy items in my workspace: I’m fortunate enough to have two workspaces: my home office and my office in our headquarters. I have such a collection of things, and probably the thing that gets commented on the most (in both spaces) is the number of pens I have. It really is a ridiculous amount, but I like to have options in all colors.

At my headquarter office, I have an emotional support rubber chicken, complete with a vest, who hangs out on my desk. And a “Pennies from Heaven” jar where I collect coins I find.

At my home office, I have a small hamburger with googly eyes that sits right under my monitor.

Do you have a pet sitting in your office right now:  In fact, I have two snoring bulldog brothers (Bear and Bruce) in my office right now.

Favorite app on my phone that is not related to business: I would say that my most used apps that are not work-related are Peloton, Google/Gmail, and Facebook.  

When do you take time for learning/reading: I enjoy reading for pleasure at night. It is how I wind down once I go to bed. I set my phone alarms and then put my phone down.

For learning, I feel like this is an all-the-time activity. I have online CPE courses that I take during the day. I’m always trying to improve my team’s experience and functionality in NetSuite. And I am constantly googling random things as questions come up in my head or in conversations.