A LIFE IN A DAY: Jeffrey Batliner: Cannabis Industry Personalities
Jeffrey Batliner, Chief Financial Officer of Unrivaled Brands, Inc., joined the company in December of 2018 when he was hired as the Director of Financial Reporting, where his responsibilities focused on SEC Reporting as well as Financial Planning and Analysis. During Mr. Batliner’s tenure in that role, he was instrumental in improving internal and external reporting processes as well as implementing more robust budgeting and planning processes. Mr. Batliner was promoted to his current role as Chief Financial Officer on October 6, 2020.
Prior to Unrivaled Brands, Mr. Batliner served in various Financial Planning and Analysis roles spanning multiple industries. From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Batliner led the FP&A team for Canon USA’s computer peripheral products division. Mr. Batliner was at Sage, a global business software provider, from 2003 to 2014. He built out the finance team supporting Sage’s shared services division and led several FP&A teams supporting multiple business units. From 2015 to 2018, he created the FP&A team at Iteris, Inc., a transportation management firm, as the company experienced significant growth. Mr. Batliner holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor’s in Finance from California State Fullerton.
What is your morning routine? What do you think about in the morning? What do you eat and drink?
In the morning I allow myself to wake up for 10 or 15 minutes. Once I am fully awake, I take my Australian Shepherds, Zeke and Hobie, out for a morning walk. This plays a vital role in structuring my day. It allows me to clear my head, bring back focus and organize my thoughts about the day ahead. I tend to think about the items I am going to target and what items can wait. Morning walks are probably the best start you can give your body and mind.
Once I return home, I have a simple breakfast of yogurt with fruit – and, of course, coffee! After breakfast, I get ready to go to work.
What part of the world do you wake up in the morning? What is it like where you live?
I live in Southern California. The year-round great weather makes it easier to spend time outside doing whatever activity is your thing. For me, that is golf, paddle boarding, and biking. Beyond the weather, the Southern California culture (…and maybe the west in general) is entrepreneurial and experimental in nature. Largely, that is why we want to focus our business on California, Oregon, and Nevada. We are in a new and evolving industry; and this region, both from a regulatory and market perspective is open to potential benefits that our industry can provide in the form of recreational products, health and wellness products, an improved tax base, and jobs.
How do you work? How do you plan your day? What is your job?
I work from the office, so it is a 25-minute commute. While I like the flexibility that working from home provides, there is a lot more synergy and efficiency when people work together in person.
I typically plan my day at the end of the prior day. I like to have this be one of the last things that I do at night prior to going to bed. As mentioned above, I also use the time when I am walking the dogs to think back through my plan and what the key elements are that I am going to attack. I let my mind ruminate on that.
The requirements for my job can be understood as three main duties. The first is control and compliance. This involves assuring the company has proper operating procedures in place and performs proper accounting. The second duty is decision support. This largely deals with planning, analysis, and reporting functions. The last duty is treasury and entails gaining access to and managing our cash.
My job in leading this team is to bounce between those three primary duties and provide guidance and make decisions where we need it.
How does your cannabis job compare to previous jobs outside of the industry?
In many ways, my current job is similar to my previous jobs outside of the cannabis industry. When you look at it from the perspective of accounting in an SEC-compliant way, you are managing cash flows and making sure that you do not overextend yourself. You are also providing meaningful analysis to the business to make sure they are making good decisions. In those ways, my cannabis job is like the prior jobs I have had.
In other ways, my current cannabis job is very different, especially with the frenetic pace at which we currently make decisions. We are dealing with businesses that feel that they need to move quickly to stay competitive. This rapid pace is a challenge for the accounting piece since we are trying to stay in line with the business.
It also makes it tough to provide a good analysis because everything moves so quickly. It is often difficult to get that analysis done in short timeframes.
Do you exercise or meditate? What do you think about when exercising or meditating?
The short answer to that would be exercise. I try and work out five or six days a week. Meditation is still very new to me, and I have run across a few meditation podcasts that I find interesting. However, at the moment, I feel like I’m sampling meditation, and not really exploring all it has to offer.
Besides my morning walks, I try not to think about anything when I am exercising or meditating. I like to focus on the moment at hand, regardless of the form of exercise or meditation. This is how I deal with the stressors of my job and stay balanced.
What do you wear these days?
Even with the pandemic, last year we spent a good part of the year from June onwards, in the office. During this time, my go-to wardrobe items were t-shirts, polo shirts, and shorts.
Admittedly, even in the office, my wardrobe is far more casual these days. When I am working from home, my outfit consists of a T-shirt and shorts. Jeans and khaki pants still make up a large portion of my apparel. However, sweats, track pants and shorts are starting to work their way into the rotation.
What is for lunch and describe the rest of your day up until dinner time?
My daily schedule can be unpredictable. Activities that need my attention often materialize around lunchtime. To account for this, I typically bring food from home for lunch (mostly leftovers). This way, if I need to schedule or attend an afternoon meeting, I will have leftovers ready to pop in the microwave – providing me flexibility in a busy schedule.
My day is busy from start to finish. I am typically occupied with whatever daily tasks we are on and attending meetings until I leave the office.
What is your evening routine like after work? What is your commute like if you have one?
My evening commute is similar to the length of my morning commute, ranging from 20-25 minutes. Occasionally after a long day, I do splurge and pay the $5 fee to use the toll road as a shortcut to get home quicker.
I enjoy working out in the evening. As I mentioned above, it helps me stay balanced and unwind after a long workday (I also believe it boosts my productivity at work). About six to seven months ago, I bought a Peloton. It has been an absolute delight to use. After exercising, I have dinner, and then check emails and organize for work the next day.
What publications do you recommend reading in cannabis?
I read the Cannabis Business Times. I enjoy its content. It allows me to keep up on important items in the cannabis industry and make timely, informed decisions. I also enjoy reading the Green Entrepreneur. I do consume non-cannabis-related content as well. I like reading the Wall Street Journal and the Economist daily and find the articles thought-provoking and insightful.
I believe reading daily and keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry — and US markets — can give you a competitive edge.
What is your bedtime routine? What are your thoughts when you drift off to sleep?
I usually wind down in the evening and decompress from the day. I try not to think about work and quiet my mind. I am usually thinking about how the Dodgers or the Rams are doing.
Work-related thoughts are bound to pop back in around 3:30 in the morning, so I try to take my mind in a different direction before I drift off to sleep and end a productive day.
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