CFO and Operating Partner With a deep love for the power of diverse thinking; a knack for simplifying complex finance and governance requirements; and years of experience in mentoring countless disruptive tech companies globally, meet Gary Wong…
Why venture capital?
Venture capital is about encouraging teams of great people to believe that they have everything they need to build something bigger than themselves. I love that journey - how venture capital is the bridge between idea; and startup; and an Apple-sized entity
More importantly, why GD1?
I’ve spent the past 12 years deeply involved in the strategic growth journey of countless tech companies - right from ‘local SME’ to ‘globally-minded’ entity - including helping startups expand into US, European and Australian markets. Each time I travelled, I made an effort to completely immerse myself in the different cultures I encountered. They captivated me and opened my eyes to the value of bringing different cultural approaches and lenses to problem solving. That exposure to diverse ways of thinking has helped shape and sharpen my own expertise. When GD1 reached out to me, it was that same focus on global thinking that drew me in. They’re a great VC; but also, a VC that speaks my language. The team is a diverse group with viewpoints shaped by different ages, genders, and culture. I didn’t look like anyone on the team, yet because of that, I ‘fit’ right in!
What do you do at GD1, 9-5?
I’m deeply involved in financial and corporate governance at GD1, including process improvement, setting up policies and procedures, and right-sizing these same policies and procedures to be flexible enough and fit-for-purpose for startups. For our portfolio companies, I bring a strategic lens on growth, getting involved in challenging them to be ‘growth-minded’ in their thinking and helping them to build appropriate financial plans and undertake successful capital raising. This includes building out complex financial models that scale with international growth. It’s not easy to set up a global operation when you haven’t done this before. I spend a lot of time mentoring finance teams, especially those who don’t have anyone senior with a financial background to tap into at Exec level.
What makes a good CFO?
That’s simple: exposure, including company size (startups right through to multinational, Apple-sized operations) and location (work across different markets). Today’s CFO’s need technical experience AND soft skills. 90% of CFOs concentrate on acquiring technical experience only, ignoring relatability, empathy, and cultural understanding. As a CFO, you work with diverse people at different organisational levels - and being able to relate to and understand where they’re at is key and what differentiates a good CFO from a great one...
What’s your superpower?
Ever heard of Spiderman’s spidey-sense? I like to think I have a ‘sixth-sense’ or a good feel for what’s really happening. I’m known for my ability to ask questions that cut to the heart of situations and get to the source of a problem via the quickest route possible.
What gets you up in the morning?
I love making a difference and sharing my passion in a way that adds value. To me, purpose comes down to leaving a company or portfolio in a better place than when I found it. When I do that, I succeed.
If you won the lotto, what would you do?
I would take a long, long holiday...and then come right back to GD1 to keep doing what I’m doing right now…!
What would you say to someone wanting a career in venture capital?
VC is about relishing exposure to different people and ways of working. Don’t join because of the tech; or the perceived ‘glamour’. It’s hard work; and you’ll work with so, so many people and that needs to be something you genuinely enjoy…