Charles Freund began his career inside the HR consulting world in a position with Sibson Consulting, a member of The Segal Group. In this role, he became heavily ingrained with the nuances of executive compensation.
“Our job was to design programs that would link executives’ pay with performance,” he recalls. “We really had to understand the client’s business, the various business models, and the key drivers of company value creation and tie these metrics back to the executives’ pay packages.”
It was at Sibson that he learned how to successfully analyze a company’s proxy statement, as well as the art of mining data to get benchmarking information on compensation levels. Freund also learned how to build performance-linked compensation programs that have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
In 2009, Freund left Sibson to joined FLEETCOR as senior vice president of corporate strategy. Over the ensuing 15 years, he has worked his way up through the ranks, holding positions such as president of developing markets, executive vice president of corporate strategy, executive vice president of sales, executive vice president of strategy, and, now, CFO.
“I never really envisioned myself as a CFO, but during my tenure here at FLEETCOR, I’ve had a lot of different experiences and challenges that have helped to prepare me,” comments Freund, who adds that the Great Resignation has helped to validate the mind-set that FLEETCOR had adopted over a period of years.
Freund: Our employees are the company. They make things happen. We are very focused on talent acquisition and development. We keep careful track of what we are doing to make sure that we can hire and retain the people whom we need to have. So far, so good, but I would definitely tell you that the environment is getting increasingly competitive. As the economy continues to heat up, we’re seeing the war for talent do so as well.
The good news is that employee engagement during COVID has improved. Our IT teams and HR teams took unprecedented steps both to enable people to work from home and to make sure that they felt safe and connected to the company when we all went virtual. Some statistics in a recent survey revealed that 93% of our employees believe that they have everything that they need to work from home.
As a public company, obviously, we have a compensation committee and governance structures around our compensation. It’s a mix of salary and equity compensation in the form of restricted stock that requires company performance in order to vest. Our bonus objectives are set individually and looked at by our CEO. They’re measured, and they’re very objective. We try to remove subjectivity. Either you meet your objective or you don’t. And if you don’t, you don’t get paid.
This is kind of the philosophy that we try to employ everywhere we can. COVID upset things a little bit because after we had to withdraw guidance when COVID hit, in order to keep people motivated, we actually had to go through a rebudgeting exercise and then set second-half targets that were different. Other than this, I’d say that we’re very, very consistent in our approach to compensation. Because of the equity component, it is tied to the shareholder’s performance as well. So, if you get options and your stock price doesn’t improve, they’re not worth anything. This is a key component of our compensation as well.
“Some statistics in a recent survey revealed that 93% of our employees believe that they have everything that they need to work from home.”
– Charles Freund