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Global Industry Leaders

CFI interview series feature valuable insights, stories and tips from global leaders in the finance industry. Read the interviews to get practical advice and the motivation you need to realize your full potential and advance your career!

Susan Vuong

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Bay City Capital (BCC

I always tell people that you have to like what you’re doing and like the people you work with.

Tell us a bit about your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis.

I’m the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of Bay City Capital (BCC).

As a CFO, I manage the financial and tax reporting of the firm. My day-to-day activities consist of:

  • supervising the accounting department
  • reviewing financial statements
  • interacting with Investors with respect to financial and tax queries
  • calculating IRRs of the Partnership
  • monitoring the Partnership’s performance
  • calculating and drafting capital call notices
  • calculating and drafting distribution notices
  • ensuring the timely filing of SEC documents
  • managing payroll function
  • running budget analysis quarterly
  • driving the audit process
  • making sure all internal control procedures are in place
  • and performing ad hoc projects for the Managing Directors

My role as a CCO is mainly to make sure our firm complies with all regulatory requirements, which includes implementing and monitoring compliance programs and coordinating annual compliance training for all the staff and Managing Directors.

What is your background and how did you get into this role?

I was born in Vietnam and came to the US when I was around 8 yrs old.  I have 7 siblings.  As you know, raising 8 kids is not an easy task for my parents.  My dad was a Gardener at that time and was hardly making any money, but I was very fortunate to be selected as a member of the Community Involvement Program (CIP), which covered most of my college tuition at the University of the Pacific.  This gave me the opportunity to graduate UOP with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting in 1996.

Shortly after graduation, I got a job offer in Los Gatos as an Office Administrator for a construction company. I then moved to Walnut Creek and joined Episcopal Homes Foundation, a non-profit assisted living facility, as a Staff Accountant and was there for about 3 yrs.  I then joined Bay City Capital (BCC) in October 2000 as an Accounting Manager and slowly worked my way up to the role of a Controller.  After 13 yrs at BCC, I felt there wasn’t anymore room to grow so I took a job at Spectrum Equity in Nov 2013. In May 2015, the CFO of BCC decided to take an early retirement so the Founder of the firm called and asked me to come back as their new CFO.  Shortly after I came back to BCC, the CCO left the firm so I took on that role as well.

What do you enjoy the most about your job and what are the biggest challenges?

BCC is a Venture Capital that invests only in Life Sciences companies.  The most satisfying part of my job is to see the companies we invest in succeed and able to help patients. Obviously, it’s also rewarding to be able to make a profit and distribute the proceeds to our Investors, but to know that we made an impact in saving lives is more rewarding. Also, the Founder of the firm, Fred Craves, is the sweetest person with a big heart and I can’t be more happier to work for someone like him.  The biggest challenge I would say is dealing with auditors, keeping up with SEC regulations and understanding the affects of the new Tax Reform.

What are the top skills you’d look for when hiring a financial analyst for your team?

Understanding the concept of General Ledger and being able to analyze financial data is very important for this role.  I also look for someone who is a team player and is willing to wear multiple hats.

How are your employees keeping up to date with new skills and training?

Occasionally, I would send them to conferences and attend relevant courses.  If I attend conferences and have important updates, I will share those with my staff as well.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers who want to work in this field?

I always tell people that you have to like what you’re doing and like the people you work with.  You spend more time at work than anywhere else, it’s like marrying into a new family.  If that company culture is not the right fit, then it’s best to go find another place.  If you force yourself to stay, you will end up dragging your feet to work every day and eventually it will wear you down.

Also, honestly is very important to me.  I have let a few staff go in the past for not being honest.  Their lies affected the work of other staff and it drags the team down, which I do not tolerate.  Being honest can pay off big time, like in my case.  When I first came for a job interview at BCC, I told the CFO upfront that I have no experience in VC or Fund Accounting and that I’ve only worked for a construction company and for a non-profit organization, but I am very fast learner and a hard worker.  The CFO liked my honesty and decided to take a chance on me and now I’m the CFO of the firm.

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