Meet a Dragon: Eileen Tobias
Meet Eileen Tobias, Chief Financial Officer at Komodo Health, who talks about her experience scaling technology companies, being a woman leader in finance, and her unique path to becoming Komodo’s CFO right before the global pandemic.
What brought you to Komodo Health?
I spent the past 15 years scaling software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies through significant periods of growth — first at NetSuite, then at Dropbox. I was excited to join Komodo where there was so much momentum and a truly impressive leadership team. I saw it as an opportunity to leverage my experience and apply it to a mission-driven health tech company for the first time. It’s been exciting to partner with the rest of the leadership team to plan and prepare for the next phase of the company's evolution.
What do you love about growing a startup?
I enjoy the challenges and opportunities that come with a company that's growing fast. You can move quickly and make an impact, and it’s a lot of fun to invest for growth. In the past, I’ve had the privilege of guiding a smaller, growing company from early-stage funding round through to operating as a public company, and that journey was incredibly rewarding.
You joined the digital health industry just as the world was turned upside-down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. What has that been like?
I joined Komodo in March, just one week before the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and stay-home orders followed shortly after that. So my first several months with the company have looked very different from what I had initially expected. I was quickly met with new imperatives to deal with: strategic pivots, financial scenario modeling, decisions on our empty office spaces, and other related challenges due to the pandemic. We have now emerged into a “new normal,” and I’m looking forward to re-focusing on our aggressive growth goals in the second half of this year.
You recently participated in a roundtable of women leaders in finance. What advice do you have for women entering finance — especially in health tech?
One of the interesting things about the finance industry is that the gender balance of people who enter the field is almost 50/50 men to women and there's certainly no issue with the pipeline of women entering the field of finance. What's striking is the significant drop-off in women in senior leadership roles in finance. There are very few female CFOs. I'd love to see more women make it to the top of this field. I try to sponsor women, hire women, and mentor women as much as I can and be a good role model.
Earlier in your career path, did you expect to land where you are now?
I started out in public accounting, where the career path is a partnership track. But then a few years in, I pivoted my career path when I was recruited into Finance at Hewlett-Packard. In the years that followed, I focused on building my career and advancing into higher leadership positions while working at a number of technology companies, including Brocade Communications, NetSuite, and Dropbox. I was very fortunate to work for several outstanding CFOs who mentored me along the way and showed me the blueprint for what it takes to be a successful CFO.
You enjoy listening to audiobooks — any recent books you would recommend?
I just finished listening to the audiobook of Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming. It’s a bit lengthy, but such a powerful story of optimism amid many life challenges. I highly recommend it for anyone — especially any aspiring women in leadership. Right now, I’m listening to Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great resource for examining the ways we get stuck in habits, and how to build good habits that support our success and happiness.