People of OST: Drew Brownell, Director of Financial Planning & Analysis
Drew Brownell has 10+ years of experience as a key contributor in finance and operations capacities. After beginning his career at Glencore, he pivoted to become an early finance hire at an online education startup which grew from five employees to a successful exit. He enjoys corporate finance, concerts, and comedy.
Tell us about yourself!
I was born in Chappaqua, New York and grew up in Westchester County. I went to school at Boston College. My first job was on the commodities and analyst — mergers & acquisitions team at Glencore when they were still private. Then I worked in risk management at Morgan Stanley. I did aluminum for Glencore and oil for Morgan Stanley. I became a VP at Ormet in 2008, which was an interesting experience in management. I pivoted and went to a private equity firm that specialized in education companies. We built a startup from inception to a 1,500-person company and achieved a successful exit. Around that time I got my MBA in strategy and corporate finance from NYU. I pivoted again after the company sold, this time into blockchain.
What piqued your interest about blockchain technology?
Being a person with a finance background, I saw the word ledger and my ears perked up a little bit. That was my first attraction. As my interest increased, I read that blockchain technology would make growth easier for companies that couldn’t monetize or were fettered by costs. I like the idea of eliminating the middleman. It’s a utopian idea, but blockchain technology can potentially do that. I decided to delve into it further.
What does a blockchain ledger mean to you?
To me, a blockchain ledger is a source of trust. A ledger in accounting is a way to mark and keep track of things. With blockchain, it’s public and it’s a source of trust that can’t be changed. I’ve always wondered on the finance side if things are going on behind the scenes that are unsavory. Blockchain can eliminate that. It’s a really good way to help bring more trust within transactions between people or groups.
What does your role as Director of Financial Planning & Analysis entail?
I forecast the future using numbers. This involves a lot of analysis. I build internal and external financial and operational forecasts looking quarterly, monthly, and five years out to give the company a financial roadmap. I build an internal financial roadmap to figure out how fast we’re growing, how we’re growing, where we’re growing. In addition, I do a lot of ad hoc projects, which is something I’m used to from my previous experience. Another thing that I’m working on is a couple of the larger compliance projects that the company needs to focus on in the future
What is your favorite hobby?
I go to a lot of concerts. I love music — the more complex, the more layered, the better. I grew up listening to a ton of hip-hop and I am now into house, electro, pop, and indie music. New York has everything. Right now, we actually work next to a concert venue called Irving Plaza. It’s a good place to see a mid-size band. If you’re looking for big concerts, I’d recommend Terminal 5 and Madison Square Garden here in New York.
THANK YOU, DREW!
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OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST partners reach more than 300 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, and 500 Startups.