2021 BC CFO Awards: Catherine Chew

Information-oriented stewardship helps propel company’s growth

Catherine Chew, CFO, Global Relay Communications Inc.

Catherine Chew, CFO, Global Relay Communications Inc.

Catherine Chew joined Global Relay in 2014 and rose through the ranks to become its lead financial professional in 2016.

The fast-growing company knew it needed transformation in its finance strategy and operations. Prior to Chew’s appointment, the company lacked the visibility and insight it needed to make decisions and measure success to continue the steep growth trajectory of the business.

Chew delivered with timely information about cash flow, revenue growth, financial results and dynamic forecast and budget models that allowed Global Relay to plan for different scenarios. She implemented processes to improve working capital, established financial reporting, and defined key performance indicators so Global Relay could measure itself against competitors and industry benchmarks.

She mined its existing data and collected new data points essential to making decisions on everything from how to structure customer contracts to setting up parameters for how quickly to expand Global Relay’s employee base and deploy capital to help meet the company’s long-term, global growth goals.

Change can be difficult. Over time, however, Chew’s consistent, transparent communication and focus on demonstrating the critical insights the new data and processes could provide turned her into a highly valued executive member.

Because of her dedicated focus on building a solid finance foundation, Global Relay has successfully remained a private company, despite numerous offers by other organizations to acquire it.

Not having venture capital or private equity funding means its two majority owners can still control how the business grows toward its long-term goals, rather than focusing on shareholders’ financial gain.

With a keen understanding of and input into Global Relay’s strategy, Chew helped the business open a new office in London and hire 250 people globally in 2020. In 2020, she also contributed to negotiations for the company’s expanded partnership with Refinitiv to broaden its reach into new markets and territories.

As CFO, Chew has made significant contributions to Global Relay’s strategic decision-making and growth, including managing the company’s credit syndication without surrendering any equity. She negotiated the agreement with four banks so Global Relay could purchase its current headquarters in Vancouver (home to more than 600 employees) and refinance existing debt. As the largest employer in the neighbourhood and now property owner, Global Relay is represented by Chew as a board member on the Gastown Business Improvement Society. Global Relay cares deeply about its community and last year worked with the Society and Vancity to establish a “shop local” card to provide discounts to help drive business to Gastown retailers and restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. 

The CFO of the Year winners will receive their awards at an event November 29, held in conjunction with the annual Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Year celebrations. 

For more information go to https://biv.com/bc-cfo-awards.