Food and Finance Focused: CFO Kevin Benmoussa

“I always make sure I hire people smarter than me who complement my skills,” said the Aleph Farms CFO.
Sandra BeckwithFebruary 9, 2023
Food and Finance Focused: CFO Kevin Benmoussa

Originally from France and now working in New York for an Israeli startup that grows steaks from non-genetically engineered animal cells, Kevin Benmoussa’s financial expertise was distilled at large corporations. 

Named CFO and executive vice president of the startup, Aleph Farms, in the fall of 2022, Benmoussa previously was CFO at coconut products producer The Vita Coco Co., where he was responsible for expanding the company’s global finance functions before leading its initial public offering (IPO) in 2021. He previously held a range of finance-focused corporate leadership positions at Nestlé Waters North America and PepsiCo, including division CFO at Nestlé Waters and finance director and senior manager of strategy and business development at PepsiCo. Benmoussa started his career at Bear Sterns.

Kevin Benmoussa.jpgKevin Benmoussa

CFO and executive vice president, Aleph Farms

  • First CFO position: 2016
  • Notable previous companies:
    • Nestlé Waters North America 
    • PepsiCo
    • Bear Stearns

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

SANDRA BECKWITH: Why does your background particularly suit Aleph Farms — what was the company looking for when you were hired recently as CFO?

Kevin Benmoussa: I think what was appealing beyond my understanding of the food and beverage industry was my large organization training, strategy background, and M&A and business development experience. I was also a global CFO and took a company public through an IPO, so I know how to talk to investors, narrate the story, connect the dots, and go beyond the numbers. The last aspect is a cultural fit, which is quite important when hiring today.

How does your background affect how you do the job?

Benmoussa: I try to bring to my team and the organization some of the best practices I learned at large corporations, but in a way that meshes with our startup family feel. I’ve also benefited from certain large-organization experiences that I’d like to apply to our daily work. Outside the finance team, I’m also leveraging some of my more business-driven past experiences. 

What kind of people do you hire for the finance team? 

Benmoussa: I always make sure I hire people smarter than me who complement my skills. I also look for people who want to go above and beyond. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten in my career came from a previous boss who told me, “If you want to be successful, don’t constrain yourself to your job description. That’s how you will grow as a person and in your career.” I look for that attitude. 

What part of the CFO’s job is more difficult for you, given your background?

Benmoussa: It’s not so much about what is hard, but maybe more about what is and isn’t naturally interesting. My background doesn’t include accounting experience, so I rely on a controller or CPA for that. What is more interesting and relevant for me is the business side of finance. How do you leverage the finance organization to be an enabler? I don’t want to be the police. I don’t want to be the naysayer. I don’t want to be the guy or the function that always put barriers around things. I always tell my team that we should be enabling the organization. Leveraging finance as a tool to help the business is more attractive to me than other aspects of the position. 

What’s the easiest? 

Benmoussa: Everything around business development, strategy, and M&A are easier for me because I’m naturally more attracted to them. I also enjoy connecting with and managing people and view my team as family. 

Was becoming CFO always the goal? 

Benmoussa: Early in my career, I thought I would be a banker. After starting in that field, though, I quickly realized that managing businesses through the numbers was what I really liked. As I gained experience, especially while at Pepsi and Nestlé, becoming CFO eventually became my goal, so I worked to craft a career path that would help me get there.

Would you recommend the path you followed to others in finance hoping to become CFOs?

Benmoussa: Absolutely, but I’ve also had good luck along the way. There’s an element of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I also have to say that there is no single path that will lead you to the CFO role. Your background can be different from mine, and you can still get there.

Sandra Beckwith is a freelance business writer.