From a young age, Javier Salazar has been fascinated by finding solutions to complex problems, and more so, by how those solutions impact lives.
Javier gained an interest in accounting at 17 years old, after taking college courses his senior year of high school. This early aspiration led Javier to take his first bookkeeping job by the time he was 20 years old. And within two years of that job in this field, he started his own bookkeeping company. “What I found most interesting about the marriage between finance and technology,” he said, “is understanding the client’s needs and figuring out the right system to implement. Understanding their business model and what their goals have been major deciding factors in what systems and processes we use.”
Since those early days as a budding bookkeeper, Javier Salazar has gone on to become the Managing Director and CFO at TGG, a leading provider of outsourced accounting and business advisory services for small to mid-sized businesses. There he supports companies like Luna build financial strategies, raise capital, and attract investors. Javier attributes Luna’s mission and culture to selling him on joining its team.
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with Javier to learn more about his life story, career journey, and how he became a successful leader in fintech.
Hi Javier. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you share a little about your life growing up as a young Javier?
Growing up in Los Angeles, California with my sister and four brothers wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of fights in our full house, but there were also a lot of great memories. Both of my parents were hard workers. My father worked at Kaiser Permanente as a Warehouse Supervisor during the week and bought and flipped houses on the weekends. My mother immigrated from Mexico and pick strawberries in the field that eventually became the land on which the house she currently lives stands.
I fondly remember my dad taking us on fishing trips every first Sunday of the month. Sitting there waiting to catch a fish taught me a lot about patience. I was fortunate enough to pass on this tradition to my 3-year-old son for the first time this summer. We taught him how to hook the bait and cast the line. He didn’t catch anything, but we all still had a great time.
What a great skill to pass on to your son. Certainly, these will be some of his fondest memories, too. Can you share more about your career at TGG? How has your career evolved here?
TGG has provided me with so many opportunities to change people’s lives. As Consulting CFO and Managing Director of a team of thirty-four, I’ve helped people sell their companies, complete data migrations, clean up their financials, and create policies and procedures to create efficiencies in their accounting department. I couldn’t ask for more opportunities within a company.
How has your heritage shaped your career? What aspects of your heritage do you think have impacted the culture of your company?
My parents have been great role models. They instilled a strong work ethic in me. As a result, I was motivated to be the first in my family to get a master’s degree and eventually apply my learnings to my career.
Integrity and teamwork are the two biggest factors of what I drive home with my team. We take pride in our work and ensure we deliver quality service. Most importantly, we work as a team. TGG’s model for every client is a team of four, including a Staff Accountant, Accounting Manager, Controller, and CFO. We all have our assigned responsibilities, and it takes all of us to produce quality work.
Integrity and teamwork are great characteristics to have for solving problems. That’s why Luna is thrilled to be working with you. What excites you most about working with Luna?
I am so honored to be working with a company that is making such a huge impact in the world. The company’s mission and culture are beyond amazing!
What one piece of advice would you give to Latinos passionate about a career in finance and technology (fintech)?
Growing up as a Hispanic American, I have been faced with many challenges throughout my career. At times, it felt like I was judged by the color of my skin, and I changed my habits to fit in. It wasn’t until I embraced my background and became more comfortable with who I am and where I came from that I started to feel accepted. My advice would be to embrace who you are and focus on your career. Don’t try to fit the mold of something that you’re not. Find the mold that fits you.
Well said, great advice. Recently, you’ve adopted your baby Noah through the Safe Surrender Program. That story, in itself, is beyond moving. How has that life experience impacted your life?
Noah has been a true blessing to us. He is one of our two adopted children through the foster system. Adopting two children has taught my husband and me about compassion, patience, and unconditional love. Fostering a child is not easy, but we advocate for anyone with room in their home and heart to do so.
Two adopted children? What an incredible path you’ve chosen. In conclusion, what do you want your legacy to be?
That I made difference in people’s lives for the better. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Head of Digital Engagement at Luna
TGG is a leading provider of outsourced accounting and business advisory services for small to mid-sized businesses across industries. The TGG team delivers quality financial services, systems and insights that help small businesses thrive and, in so doing, serves a critical role in helping clients meet the day-to-day challenges of doing business. TGG Accounting has offices in San Diego and Boulder, Colorado. For more information, visit www.tgg-accounting.com.
Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data – health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.
Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.
By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.