In Part 1 of our interview, David spoke about the diverse career path he took prior to joining Crossover as the VP of Finance. In this post, he delves into his role, how people should effectively use their finance teams, and the importance of a strong culture in building an effective team.
Your title is VP of Finance. What’s your role now and how do you want to see it evolve?
I want to see the role and the group evolve to where finance is a key partner to not only the leadership team, but to all the facets of the business that need the finance lens and our support. I want to help people across the company—whether it’s our client teams, our sales teams, or the medical teams—to seamlessly get and use data, as well as analytics, to influence and complement decision-making. Finance should not be something that says, “Thou shalt do.” Instead, I see it as saying, “Here’s the empirical evidence, the story, the scenarios, and the what if’s.” Finance gives the team the data and tools to most accurately think about their function, and then can support them through the decision making processes.
Something I’ve learned over the years which has been really helpful is not to focus on the outcome. Focus on what you’re doing today, what you can control, and then let all the other things work themselves out. I can’t control what the healthcare industry will do. All I can control is adding the most value to Crossover as possible and then we let the chips fall where they may.
As someone who is new to healthcare, how do you describe the Crossover effect?
The Crossover effect? I don’t have the breadth and depth of so many of the smart and talented individuals that we have at Crossover. I look at it through my Oakley lens and what that company was when it was smaller—a disrupter that used design, product, and technology to build a cutting edge business. Oakley had a very strong culture before the Luxottica takeover. You’d walk into the building and you could feel it—the energy, the passion, the authenticity behind the company. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t even been into the Crossover offices yet, but I can still feel the same energy even through all the zoom calls we all endure. I love being surrounded by really talented, capable, and competitive people—it gets my blood flowing and makes me want to contribute to the magic.
I tell people we don’t follow the traditional ways of healthcare. Clearly, the healthcare industry has underlying issues, and Crossover’s approach has a lot of inherent value for people. We focus on things that the industry has ignored and approach them with a different mindset. One of the pillars of the company is “design everything” which I think is an awesome approach to solving the problems of the traditional ways of serving patients. It’s inspiring. And, it has inspired me to take a similar approach with my own finance team. Can we think differently about this? Can we take a novel approach? Is there a better way? Why can’t we do it this alternative way? It really permeates the entire organization.
What are your thoughts on growing your finance team to support the company growth?
I want us to be a team that’s viewed as highly value-additive, and as partners to the point where people are coming to us and saying, “Hey, David, I have a problem to solve. Can you help me solve it?” I’ll be the guy whose response is, “Absolutely. Let’s brainstorm. Let’s whiteboard. Let’s talk about it. Here are the pros and the cons. And here’s how we should think about this.” The way that I tried to grow through my career is to provide a commercial lens to the business. What’s the narrative? Does it make sense? Evolving our team to be a group that thinks that way won’t happen overnight, but it is a long-term vision of mine.
I leverage so many principles I learned playing sports, whether it was wrestling, football, or lacrosse, and I use tons and tons of football analogies, but I know that a team doesn’t always need to have all five-star recruits. You could have a blend of strengths and levels of talent—the challenge is getting people in the right positions, so they can be successful together. Then, as the company is growing, it is ensuring those skills and needs grow with it. Getting this right is why some companies are more successful than others, quite frankly.
A lot of this is aligning the team around the culture. How are you going to do this?
I’ve always tried to weave my vision and inspiration for my teams with the overarching company philosophy. Crossover has a very specific vision and set of values that makes this easier. I think that if you speak positively about the vision for finance and the company as a whole, and you project energy about what you’re doing, the team around you buy into that pretty easily. I’m new, so I’m still learning the history of the company and figuring out all the moving pieces, but there’s a vision and plenty of high energy, so it’s easy to get behind that.
I want myself and each member of the team to ask each day, “Did you create value for yourself? Did you create value for the company? Did you learn something? Did you grow from it? How do you apply it?” And if you ask yourself things like that every day, then I think you can create a really productive environment within which you’re helping without getting stuck in a rut.
Are there things that might surprise people about David Sunderland?
I don’t know if this is surprising really, but I do have a wonderful family with my wife and twins. We do a ski trip or two every year to California or Utah—the kids have been skiing ever since they were young. These trips are just one way I like to pass on my love of sports to my family.
As an athlete, I’m the type of person that kind of goes all-in into things. As I said, I played football in college but have found myself pivoting to alternate sports. I taught myself how to surf—I’ve surfed where I live in San Diego as well as in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Australia. I’ve also gotten into paddleboarding and breath-hold freediving, and ended up freediving all around Mexico and San Diego before I had kids. Then I decided I wanted another challenge, so I got into biking. I’ve been doing a lot of long distance, high-endurance road races, anywhere from a 100-mile to 140-mile race in a day, or 15,000-foot climbing races. I’m the type of person that just gets immersed in things, and as my wife says, tries to take it to the next level (sometimes to her dismay). All in all, I love what I do, I want to press life to the fullest, and as our own Crossover tagline says, “Be Well. Do Good. Enjoy Life.”
Many thanks to Peter Heywood (one of our long-standing brand advisors and business consultants) who helped conduct these interviews. You can search for Peter’s other Crossover Leader Series Interviews here.