David Johnston CFO

Former CFO David Johnston is the current principal of dbj Consulting LLC, a firm that provides fractional CFO services and advises life sciences companies. He is the former chief financial officer of several Massachusetts biotechnology and life sciences firms.

Current Position

In 2019, he founded dbj Consulting LLC. After over three decades as a corporate CFO, Johnston established a firm to provide financial expertise to smaller emerging life sciences companies that cannot afford a full-time, experienced CFO. Many of his clients have fewer than ten employees and are virtual. When clients sign on with his firm, they receive the fractional, part-time services of an experienced CFO. Due to his extensive experience, he can efficiently create and implement action plans.

He believes that the trend of emerging companies employing part-time C-level executives benefits the firms and the executives. With his consulting firm, where he functions as a fractional CFO for multiple companies, he can better balance his work and family life. Additionally, it helps him avoid fatigue and become healthier and more productive over time. It also keeps his interest by providing him with a variety of experiences.

CFOs benefit small emerging biotech companies by assisting in the development of financial relationships, the management of financial resources, and the provision of financial planning counsel. CFOs can also strengthen the business's foundation and increase accountability. Part-time CFOs are compensated on an hourly or fixed rate basis and only for the hours they work. Companies can hire an experienced part-time CFO for less than a full-time CFO because they only pay for the time spent.

CFOs play numerous crucial duties in biotech companies, such as securing funding and overseeing grants, financial reporting, budgeting, guiding compliance, and assisting with the company's future market trajectory planning. In some instances, CFOs serve as CEOs, particularly when cash flow is crucial.

Some of his firm's clients employ CFOs but retain them for his strategic advice. He believes a disciplined, professional, humorous approach works well for entrepreneurs.

Written Work

As a former CFO, David is also a prolific blogger and writer on biotechnology and finance-related topics. His articles have been published on Medium, Tumblr, the Buckeye Business Review, DrBioScience, and other online business and medical websites.

Since 1998, Johnston has held senior-level finance positions with life sciences companies. His first finance position in the life sciences was with Genzyme as senior vice president of corporate finance, corporate planning, and analysis. Sanofi acquired this Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company, a multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company headquartered in Paris. After Genzyme, Johnston served as CFO for two multinational corporations based in Boston that aimed to develop cancer-treating and -curing medications.

Before his first senior-level position at a biotechnology company, he held financial positions at companies in other industries.

He has received numerous distinctions for his financial and strategic insight.

Competences and Experience

Johnston uses his extensive experience to assist clients of dbj Consulting. He has experience in the following:
  • Leading Initial Public Offerings
  • Creative, non-dilutive royalty financing
  • Advising companies on strategic stock buy and sell solutions
  • Managing SEC reporting and financial analysis
  • Investor relations
  • Corporate finance
  • Strategic planning and the setting of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Financial modeling
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Advising startups on how to raise funding and plan their financial future
  • Corporate development
  • Financial analysis
  • Acquisition integration
  • Revenue recognition
  • Due diligence
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Developing and rethinking capital allocation strategies
  • Improving operational efficiencies by analyzing bottlenecks
  • Helping companies use financial data to make decisions


Former CFO David Johnston obtained a bachelor's degree in science from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He earned an MBA from the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor.

Volunteer Work and Generosity

Several non-profit organizations benefit from Johnston's financial and strategic expertise. For instance, he previously served on the board of directors at RAW ArtWorks. RAW Artworks is a youth arts organization based in Lynn, Massachusetts, that provides free programming in numerous art disciplines. Johnston has also served on the board of directors for Tissue Banks International Inc., the largest provider of ocular tissue globally.

Hobbies and Other Amusements

Johnston reads voraciously. Rinker Buck's The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey is one of his beloved books. While the book is fascinating for its information on traveling the Oregon Trail with a mule-drawn wagon, it is also applicable to entrepreneurs of small biotechnology companies. The book describes how the two adventurers overcome obstacles and uncertainty while maintaining their focus on completing the trail.

Johnston resides with his family in the Greater Boston area of Marblehead, Massachusetts.
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