Yevgenia Fink learned about hard work and grit early. Born in the Soviet Union to Jewish parents who insisted she and her sister attend college, Fink had to be a top student to be considered for higher education in a country that limited Jewish college enrollment.
Fink was 15 years old when the family emigrated to the U.S., and she enrolled in a Pittsburgh public high school that lacked an English-as-a-second-language program. Homework took hours, as she translated every word with a Russian-English dictionary. But, when Fink had to meet Carnegie Mellon University’s high academic standards, she didn’t need to worry about ethnicity playing a role in her acceptance.
Now finance chief of HOVER, a provider of 3-D visualization software for homeowners, construction professionals, and insurance adjusters, Fink has 20-plus years of financial management experience in technology-focused companies, including Intel, where she started her career. She joined HOVER as finance and operations vice president in 2017 and was named CFO three years later.
- First CFO position: 2020
- Notable previous employers:
- Glu Mobile
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
SANDRA BECKWITH: What brought you from Hipmunk to HOVER?
YEVGENIA FINK: I had worked with A.J. Altman, HOVER’s CEO and founder, years earlier at Intel. I knew he had started [a new company], so when Hipmunk was being acquired [by Concur] and moving offices in 2016, I contacted him about buying some of our furniture.
That reconnection came at a pivotal moment for me. When the Hipmunk acquisition encouraged me to think about the kind of company I wanted to work for, I realized I wanted to contribute to developing technology that enhances the way we live. I found an opportunity to do that at HOVER, especially since I already knew that A.J. was the kind of leader I wanted to work with.
Why were you the right candidate for the CFO position there?
FINK: A.J. offered me the CFO role when I joined, but I didn’t want to start there. I preferred to first build a strong finance and accounting organization and install the right systems and processes as vice president of finance and operations. I also wasn’t motivated by a title — I wanted to help build a successful business, regardless of the job label.
Three years later, there were changes in senior leadership. Because we had the right foundation in place, I felt ready to take on the CFO position.
Looking back on your career, what was the most crucial moment?
FINK: My Intel boss once advised me to “Leave Intel before you forget how to open a spreadsheet.” I remembered that when I rose through the ranks and began feeling too far removed from the work.
To get closer to those spreadsheets again, I joined a startup as director of finance. My work stretched beyond finance to project management and print operations, and it was so hard. But it was also so rewarding and fulfilling. Everything I did had a direct impact on the business.
Today, I lead a large organization but still get a high from rolling up my sleeves and feeling more connected to the work instead of always managing through others.
"Early in my career, I used the P&L statement as a professional development guide, making sure I had experience in all aspects of it."
What part of the CFO job is more difficult for you?
FINK: Technical accounting is challenging because I don't have Big Four experience. But I have an incredible, experienced accounting team that does.
When it comes to technical accounting, they're leading me. With the business partnerships I ask them to create so that they’re involved in the front-end of contracts, budgeting, and so on, I'm leading them.
What’s the easiest?
FINK: Establishing financial standards and processes that work as the organization changes and grows. If you do it correctly from the start, you won't need to redo, rebuild, and redesign processes.
Was becoming CFO always the goal?
FINK: I have always been more interested in the work and providing value than I have been in titles. And I'm not sure I'm going to have this title forever. I'm not worried about that. I'm thinking about how I can have a role that is intellectually stimulating, fulfilling, and gives me a purpose.
I want to positively contribute to the organization that I'm part of, impact people's lives, and ultimately create economic value by building a business.
What advice would you give to others in finance hoping to become CFOs?
FINK: Be curious about other roles, be willing to take on new challenges, and keep learning about the business.
Early in my career, I used the P&L statement as a professional development guide, making sure I had experience in all aspects of it. For example, for revenue, that meant understanding contracts, demand drivers, and pricing. I made sure I had experience and some level of expertise in various functions, but I never went too deep. This breadth of understanding is essential for CFOs.