Reflecting on the past eight years as leader of Novocure’s finance organization, Wilco Groenhuysen gestured toward to the blank whiteboard in his office. Wilco joined Novocure in 2012 with the objective of building a finance team and achieving finance excellence.
“The whiteboard was truly white,” Wilco said. “There was nothing on it.”
The metaphorical and physical white board in his office is still without writing. In his early days at Novocure, Wilco felt excited by the opportunity to start with a blank slate—an excitement that still drives him today as Chief Financial Officer.
“I knew what a successful finance organization should look like, but also wanted to create one that adds value,” he said. “I’m a strong believer in hiring superior, highly motivated talent that can build their own jobs to some extent as long as it fits in the total.”
In October 2019, Novocure reached a financial milestone: profitability. In the years leading up to profitability, Wilco said, leadership balanced the desire to become profitable with investing profits from the GBM business into Novocure’s research and development. Over time, funds generated by the GBM business exceeded Novocure’s investments in research and development.
“It took a massive, collective effort,” he said. “Becoming profitable from scratch is a remarkable achievement.”
Wilco said Novocure’s financial performance and improvement is not the company’s primary objective, rather a positive consequence of Novocure’s mission.
“What's remarkable about Novocure is the fact that its sole focus is on helping patients and extending survival in some of the most aggressive forms of cancer,” he said. “We know if we stay focused and if we execute on that well in a disciplined way, financial success will also be achieved.”
After nearly a decade at Novocure, Wilco still feels like he is starting fresh every day—and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We are building a company, going through stages that require substantial change,” he said. “What is great today might not be good enough two years from now. This is a continuum. So you have to wipe the board, accept that status quo will be insufficient, and define the future.”