While Alice Globus began her career as an astrophysicist, it wasn’t long before she took her data analytics and problem-solving skills to investment banking. Now the CFO of Nanotronics, a company that applies artificial intelligence to complex manufacturing, Globus spent more than 10 years with a boutique investment firm, a strategic financial consulting firm for public and private companies, and as co-founder and CFO of a multi-family private equity firm that invested in early-stage disruptive companies in fast-growing segments.
At Nanotronics since 2021 when she joined as CFO, Globus oversees accounting, financial planning and analysis, corporate development, and investor relations. She also works with several of the company’s subsidiaries.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
ALICE GLOBUS: While working on my Ph.D., I realized my career would depend on my ability to secure government or other funding. These organizations had the power to decide whether the work my team and I were doing was valuable enough to invest in, so I felt I wasn’t in control of myself.
Around the same time, a death in my family helped me realize I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in academia. I wanted to make a difference, and for me, that was by growing companies founded by people who were a lot smarter than I was. That’s when I left astrophysics to work in investment banking.
GLOBUS: A lot of people don’t realize that physicists, astrophysicists, and mathematicians are highly sought after in finance. In astrophysics, we’re trained in data science — we learn how to evaluate extremely large quantities of data and make decisions based on that.
There’s an economic case to be made for applying our AI technology in a factory setting, and as a CFO, I’m in a unique position to explain this component to potential customers.
That skill and others I acquired as a scientist translate well to finance. I also understood the technology and while it might not have been at an expert level, I at least understood it well enough to see the value in the mostly technology and healthcare businesses I was talking to.
GLOBUS: Interestingly enough, I really wanted to be in venture capital. That was my goal. I ended up going into private equity by co-founding a multi-family office where we made investments in everything from seed stage to series A companies. We did private investment in public equity (PIPE) transactions of public companies looking for capital, as well. Quite often with these companies, I would join them as a financial strategic operator to help streamline their operations and get them ready for the next stages of growth. That experience, and serving as the family firm’s CFO, help set me up for the Nanotronics opportunity.
GLOBUS: As an astrophysicist, I learned how to approach and solve problems. Those are the skills companies are looking for in a CFO today. It’s no longer enough to be a solid controller or accountant. Companies want a strategic thinker to make financial decisions based on the business, and that can’t be done in a vacuum, especially in a deep-tech company like ours that’s at the convergence of artificial intelligence, material science, and engineering.
I also think accounting is one of the first tasks that’s going to be eliminated through artificial intelligence.
When we’re deciding how to allocate resources, it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of what’s important to our growth. In addition, there’s an economic case to be made for applying our AI technology in a factory setting, and as a CFO, I’m in a unique position to explain this component to potential customers.
GLOBUS: I try to build a team around me that’s a lot smarter than I am, or that has a different skill set. I also look for curiosity. I want people who will ask “Why?” if the numbers seem off, or if they see someone struggling. I look for people with that innate sense of curiosity that leads to problem-solving.
GLOBUS: Having the ability to at least program at a basic level is going to be valuable. Even our machinists and new development associate are programmers. I also think accounting is one of the first tasks that’s going to be eliminated through artificial intelligence. If companies have the right processes in place to capture the data, they’re going to be able to pull it off automatically. People who are able to take the data and draw conclusions from it are going to be more valuable to the business.