Teddy Collins started his career cultivating his financial modeling and Excel prowess. In recent years, he has been on a mission to eliminate spreadsheets and move finance into the front office.
Throughout his twelve years in finance, Collins has built his expertise across financial planning and analysis (FP&A), operational, and strategic roles. “I enjoyed the data and analytics aspects of investment banking, but I wanted to go deeper on the operational aspects and help build a company over several years,” Collins explains. He honed his operator’s playbook with a strategic finance role at mobile gaming startup Pocket Gems and then within the iPhone business planning at Apple, working on the launch of the iPhone 6s.
In 2015, Collins’s family moved back to New York City where he joined SeatGeek, a mobile-focused ticket platform that enables users to buy and sell tickets to sporting events and concerts.
“It’s a very interesting company that is gaining market share from some large players,” he says. “I was fortunate to join early in the company’s journey and help it grow from a ticket search engine into a robust ticket marketplace and B2B software provider. My early years were all about building foundational finance structure and processes.”
Today, as SeatGeek’s senior director of corporate finance and investor relations, Collins leverages business partnering, data, systems, and process to keep SeatGeek’s strategy and operations in sync.
One of his primary focuses now is bringing real-time, source-of-truth data to all areas of SeatGeek’s planning and business functions. “How we design and orchestrate systems will take on an increasingly important role as SeatGeek scales and continues to move fast,” he explains.
Sound leadership is important to Collins, and he notes that all starts with strong communication among all members of the team and giving them opportunities to grow.
“Having a culture that is accepting of mistakes and gives people a lot of responsibility is what I’ve really tried to focus on and help people figure out what they want to do both medium- and long-term,” he shares. “If they haven’t thought about that already, I try to push them to start thinking a few steps ahead.”
During the pandemic, SeatGeek has stayed focused on its mission of helping people experience more live events. “In the years leading up to COVID, we positioned the company to take a balanced approach to growth. We’re positioned to bounce back quickly once the world returns to more live events,” Collins says. “From an operational perspective, our focus on scalability and automation has allowed us to use more of our time to be a strategic voice within SeatGeek.”
That’s helped the company stay nimble and react quickly when COVID started, with Collins keeping the finances on track for success. “We started our journey to eliminate spreadsheets back in 2018 and we are 95 percent there. We’ve partnered with our business systems team to connect our HR, accounting, sales, and business intelligence systems. Getting all of those systems talking together automatically has been a great first phase of our finance journey.”
Collins is not shy about admitting his aspirations of becoming a CFO one day and believes his experience and professionalism has prepared him well for the role.
“I think there’s a new blueprint for CFOs with more of a financial planning and analysis background. The role requires strong business partnering skills and providing a strategic voice in the company.”
Collins believes a well-rounded background is the key to success. He’s built on his M&A and FP&A background with deep experiences in HR operations, investor relations, and accounting. “I’ve always tried to stay on the cutting edge from a systems and modeling standpoint,” Collins notes. “But I see the most important role of the modern finance professional is to add value wherever they can, anywhere within the enterprise.”
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