In one important way, Navan’s new CFO, Ram Bartov, is like a growing number of company employees: He’s a former Navan customer. In fact, he was the one who had procured Navan for his previous employer, Snowflake, and the experience was so good that he wanted in.
Also, it didn’t hurt that his manager at Snowflake, Thomas Tuchscherer, became Navan’s CFO in 2019.
With Thomas’s retirement in June, Ram is now leading the vision and the charge with Navan’s financial management — a position and a company that’s fit perfectly into his career trajectory.
Born and raised in Israel, Ram studied business management and accounting before snagging a job with one of the big four accounting firms, KPMG. But after working on a couple of projects for startups, he realized that his calling wasn’t in public accounting — it was in the tech industry.
He got an offer to move to the U.S. and worked various controller roles before meeting Thomas at Talend and following him to Snowflake. That’s when things really started clicking.
“We were scaling like crazy,” said Ram. “We tripled the size of the accounting group while I was there.” It was good preparation for the explosive growth to come at Navan.
As a road warrior, Ram was continually impressed with the Navan travel experience, so when Thomas moved into the CFO role at Navan, Ram saw an opportunity. “I really liked the product and really liked the team,” he said. So he made the move in…wait for it…February 2020. “Just my luck to join the travel industry two weeks before COVID,” he said with a chuckle.
The pandemic may have been a ground-disappearing Wile E. Coyote moment, but it wasn’t long before Navan started chugging back up the hill, then accelerating…quickly.
“Our accounting team has gone from 20 to 100 during my time here,” said Ram. “It’s been extreme, exciting growth” spurred by the launch of Navan Expense and the Reed & Mackay and Comtravo acquisitions, as Navan has grown into a truly global company.
Of course, operations have had to keep pace with that growth, and the Navan ethos has been key in the process.
“We couldn’t double the team every time revenue doubled,” said Ram. “So we’ve had to find efficiencies, and often that comes through automation.” The result is not just getting more done, but keeping employees motivated. “I like to hire people who like to challenge themselves,” said Ram. “And the way to help them is to take any mind-numbing manual work off their plates. Do that and you can build a team that will last.”
It’s a practice his predecessor believed in as well. “I’m so proud of all that Navan achieved during my tenure,” said Thomas, “and I’m thrilled for Ram, my successor and longtime friend.”
“I have big shoes to fill,” said Ram, “but I know the company well, which is essential in keeping our great team together and maintaining the momentum that we’ve built.”
“I’m so excited for the future,” said Ram. “and all the work we’re doing to ensure that we can support Navan’s continued growth. With our strong bedrock, innovative product, and incredible people, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.”