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Rank #148 in Careers category

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CFO Thought Leader

Updated 7 days ago

Rank #148 in Careers category

Business
Careers
Management
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CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

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CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

iTunes Ratings

76 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
5
5
3
2

Excellent resource / great find

By Crossfitgator - Oct 09 2019
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Real world, practical insights from experienced CFO’s. Very helpful to get tangible examples. Feels tangible and real not book content.

Great show bringing together CFOs!

By BrieGF - Aug 11 2017
Read more
This is a great show for CFOs who are leading businesses!

iTunes Ratings

76 Ratings
Average Ratings
61
5
5
3
2

Excellent resource / great find

By Crossfitgator - Oct 09 2019
Read more
Real world, practical insights from experienced CFO’s. Very helpful to get tangible examples. Feels tangible and real not book content.

Great show bringing together CFOs!

By BrieGF - Aug 11 2017
Read more
This is a great show for CFOs who are leading businesses!

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Cover image of CFO Thought Leader

CFO Thought Leader

Updated 7 days ago

Read more

CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

373: The Five Traits of Effective Finance Executives | Bruce Hartman, CFO (emeritus), Foot Locker Inc

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Mar 11 2018

36mins

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345: ASC 606: Ready for Action | Steve Giusti, Controller, Xactly Corp., John Dunican , Armanino, LLP

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Believe the hype. ASC 606 is one of the biggest compliance changes for business since Sarbanes-Oxley.

The new revenue recognition standard goes into effect at the end of 2017 for public companies and at the end of 2018 for private companies. The new standard is based on one overarching principle: When goods and services are transferred to the customer, companies must recognize revenue in an amount that is proportionate to what has been delivered at that point.

Join us as Steve Giusti, VP & Controller, Xactly, reveals the path that Xactly blazed to meet the challenges of the new standard while avoiding added cost and time. Next, presenters John Dunican, CPA, and Ricardo Martinez, CPA, of Armanino LLP will explore some of the specific challenges that ASC 606 poses to finance teams and highlight a number of industry-specific approaches for companies inside the real estate, high tech, manufacturing, life sciences, professional services, and software industries.It’s no secret that the mix of skills and experience demanded by successful finance teams is quickly evolving, and at no time has the need to attract, grow, and retain talent competencies inside the finance function been more critical to finance leaders.

Nov 22 2017

57mins

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338: Building Your FP&A Muscle | Sydney Carey, CFO, Apttus

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Oct 30 2017

28mins

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444: Blueprint for a Strategic Finance Chief | Raj Agrawal, CFO, Western Union

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When he started his career, Western Union CFO Raj Argawal never expected to wind up leading a global finance function. That seems appropriate today considering he defines his role – first and foremost – as “driving and executing the strategy of the company.” Trained as an electrical engineer at General Motors, Argawal also earned an MBA and then set out in pursuit of a variety of job roles (in the treasury function at General Mills, running one of Western Union’s business units) and diverse experiences (managing foreign exchange risks, taking overseas assignments). Those activities ultimately helped groom him as a finance chief with a broad perspective and a highly strategic lens. “I really look at myself as being a strategic CFO because I’ve had so many experiences in the field interacting with our customers, our agents, our business partners and our employees,” he says. “I’ve always brought the business perspective to my thinking and my decision-making.”

Nov 18 2018

34mins

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245: Using Analytics to Explore a Company’s “What If” Questions | Ron Knutson, CFO, Lawson Products, Inc.

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Ron Knutson, CFO, Lawson Products, Inc. 

Sep 09 2016

42mins

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232: Paul Auvil, CFO, Proofpoint

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Paul Auvil, CFO, Proofpoint

Jul 05 2016

29mins

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361: Acquiring Operational Smarts | Art Barter, CEO, Datron Communications

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Jan 28 2018

38mins

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323: Empowering Finance to Optimize Strategy | Olivier Leonetti, CFO, Zebra Technologies

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Aug 21 2017

43mins

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514: Building a Better Dashboard | Perry Wiggins, CFO APQC

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As CFO Perry Wiggins recounts the different door-opening opportunities that allowed him to advance to the CFO office, APQC’s finance leader doesn’t hesitate to expose the seldom-mentioned sensation that frequently accompanies new responsibility–the feeling of being overwhelmed. According to Wiggins, the sense of being overwhelmed by new responsibilities is an experience that finance career-builders should at times relish because it signals they are being given “room to grow.”

“There’s an expression–‘Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet.’ I was prepared when an opportunity came along inside a healthcare company, and that opportunity just opened so many others for me,” says Wiggins, who credits an early mentor for sharpening his career focus and directing him down an accounting track that he routinely widened as he took on different finance roles. –Jack Sweeney

Jul 17 2019

35mins

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383: Why Finance Leaders Must Be Chief Business Officers | Gary Roth, CFO, United Financial Capital Partners

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NOW SUBSCRIBE: The Quarterly Digest of CFO Strategic Insight http://bit.ly/2Wfv291 (50 CFO Profiles Every Issue).

Apr 15 2018

47mins

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355: When KPIs are Top of Mind | Four CFOs Tell Us Which Metrics Matter

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Now access our FREE eBook “The Mentoring Round” featuring career insights from 25 of our CFO Thought Leaders: https://mentoringround25cfos.gr8.com/

Jan 07 2018

28mins

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370: A CFO's Strategic Instinct | Kurt Abkemeier, CFO, Fidelis Cybersecurity

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Now access our FREE eBook “The Mentoring Round” featuring career insights from 25 of our CFO Thought Leaders: http://bit.ly/2Ga5Vfq

Feb 28 2018

42mins

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248: Anatomy of a SaaS Finance Function | Chuck Best, Vice President Accounting Operations, BlackLine, Karen Gift, Vice President of Finance, BlackLine

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Sep 20 2016

26mins

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290: The CFO Work Ethic: Six Finance Leaders Explain Why There is No Substitute for Hard Work

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Mar 13 2017

25mins

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385: Early Lessons: Five CFOs Share Their Formative Milestones

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NOW SUBSCRIBE: The Quarterly Digest of CFO Strategic Insight http://bit.ly/2Wfv291 (50 CFO Profiles Every Issue).

Apr 23 2018

24mins

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524: The Transformative Power of Data | Ben Luety, CFO, Seattle Indian Health Board

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When Ben Luety first arrived inside the CFO office at the Seattle Indian Health Board, he would frequently rely on his smartphone’s roaming service to search the Web rather than depend on the organization’s Internet connection.

“The Internet for the entire organization had less bandwidth than I did,” explains Luety, who describes the IT infrastructure serving the organization’s 200 staff members as being minted in the pre-Internet days of the early 1990s. 

For Luety, it was apparent that the SIHB was the type of organization that cloud technologies often serve best by allowing them to leapfrog certain technologies and approaches that haven’t passed the test of time. What’s more, Luety was in lockstep with his CEO, Esther Lucero, whose vision for the organization could be realized only through greater transparency and visibility into its numbers.

“We needed a system that would allow us to quickly and easily produce reports, and it all came down to our ability to manage data and produce a workflow that allows everyone to make certain that the data is getting into the right bucket and that we’re reporting out to the organization—so that people across the organization can make data-driven decisions,” he explains. –Jack Sweeney jb

Aug 21 2019

54mins

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206: Tom Stewart, CFO, SecureAuth

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 Tom Stewart, CFO, SecureAuth

Feb 24 2016

32mins

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483: Making FP&A a Road Map for the Business | Glynis Bryan, CFO, Insight Enterprises, Inc.

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There was a time when Glynis Bryan imagined herself someday retiring from Ryder System, Inc.—a company she entered as an intern and would later exit as a senior vice president. Along the way, she credits the transportation logistics giant with having exposed her to complex M&A transactions and innovative capital structures—two areas that she believes have made a hefty contribution to her post-Ryder success as a CFO. However, the Ryder experience she recalls most fondly was inside the FP&A function at what was her first destination on a finance career journey and one that has served her well at Insight Enterprises, Inc. There, shortly after being appointed CFO in 2007, she energized her team's FP&A ambitions and set a course that would forever transform the technology services company's notion of strategic finance. "I think of the FP&A function as being the road map within the finance function that helps each one of the senior leaders across the organization by supplying them with tools and actionable data that they can use to see where the business is going," she observes. Meanwhile, in 2012, Insight overhauled its internal systems, establishing a single platform from which to integrate acquisitions and satisfy its appetite for growth and helping the company to better unite its North American and Asia-Pacific operations. It's a platform that Bryan has gotten to know well as she routinely weighs the obstacles and advantages that future merger partners may bestow. 

NOW SUBSCRIBE: The Quarterly Digest of CFO Strategic Insight http://bit.ly/2Wfv291 (50 CFO Profiles Every Issue).

Apr 03 2019

43mins

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314: Back to the Future with ASC 606 | Joe Consul, CFO, Xactly

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As the complexity behind the new revenue recognition standard ASC 606 discharges a cloud of angst and consternation over many accounting departments, a growing number of SaaS technology firms have begun to help their customers address the burdensome standard allowing their finance teams to sharpen their customer focus.   Few SaaS firms perhaps tout software offerings more enmeshed with the standard’s requirements than Xactly, the San Jose, Calif.  software developer specializing in sales performance and incentive compensation.   Join us when we ask Xactly CFO Joe Consul to recount how the developer recognized that the burdensome standard was an opportunity to better serve its clients.

Jul 17 2017

23mins

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424: The Age of Real Time Strategy Dashboards

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Sep 09 2018

40mins

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554: Achieving a Strategic Capital Structure | David Moss, CFO INmune Bio

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CFOTL: Tell us about a finance strategic moment? Moss: One very strategic moment in our business at INmune Bio had to do with something that we did that was very unusual with regard to our financial situation. When companies go public, they typically go and hire an investment bank first. Then they go and draft all of their financial documents, and then they go and do their IPO and raise the money. We did the opposite here at INmune, which is probably very, very rare. We went and actually drafted our financial documents, got them approved by the regulatory authorities like the SEC and the NASDAQ, and then went and got our banks to do our capital raise. We did this because we wanted to be in the driver's seat. You know, we kind of have this view that you want to drive your own destiny. You put yourself more in the driver's seat, show that you can do it, and then try to bring your financial players on board. That's what we did here. As a result, what does this mean? There are positives and negatives with everything that you do. One positive is that because we drove the deal, it was mainly on our own terms. We also were able to maintain a lot of insider ownership, because we're big believers in this business. We believe in simplicity, so we wanted a simple cap structure. We didn't want to go into preferreds, we didn't want to go into convertible debt. We didn't want to go into warrants or anything like that. So, we kind of drove that on our own. A negative is that we weren't able to attract investor audiences as large as we would have if we had been more flexible in our terms and our deal structure. But all of this led to us ringing the bell on the NASDAQ, where we were actually the first biotech IPO of 2019.

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Dec 08 2019

59mins

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553: Rebuilding a Spin-off's Missing Parts | Ravi Chopra, CFO, SonicWall

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Ravi Chopra has built his career inside finance functions designed to serve growth-minded management. Such was the case in the late ’90s when Chopra joined Cisco Systems, which at the time was experiencing 50% growth annually. Jump forward 10 years, and you’ll find him busy leading the FP&A function for growth-driven Juniper Networks.

Asked to reflect back on a 25-year finance career, Chopra doesn’t hesitate to cite his former employer. “I learned most of everything that I know today at Juniper,” says Chopra, who quickly names Robyn Denholm, Juniper’s former CFO and current Tesla chairman, as a present and former mentor. Still, when the door to the CFO office swung open for Chopra, the accomplished finance executive no doubt found his operations knowledge being put to the test.

In 2017, Chopra would exit Juniper Networks and take on the CFO role at SonicWall, a company that had neither a finance nor an HR organization after it split off from Dell, Inc., in late 2016. Dell had acquired SonicWall in 2012 but divested the business along with Quest Software as part of the larger Dell EMC integration.

Despite some missing parts, SonicWall arguably split off with something far more valuable intact: its brand name. Prior to being acquired by Dell, the cyber protection company had long since established itself as a leader in the small and midsize business space.

“It was just an amazing challenge, and I think that we have now come out on the other side of it rather well,” explains Chopra, who believes that the speed with which SonicWall built its new infrastructure and achieved operational efficiencies allowed the firm to more quickly determine where to allocate capital. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Dec 04 2019

38mins

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552: Making Customer Outcomes Top of Mind | Valerie Burman, CFO, Guidespark

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Had Valerie Burman entered the CFO office a decade ago, you wonder whether the role would be as good a match for the accomplished finance executive as it appears to be today.

Back in 2007, after working nearly a decade in M&A as an investment banker, Burman exited a banking career to take on a corporate development role at Business Objects, a French software company that was soon to be acquired by SAP.

Post acquisition, Burman quickly found a groundswell of opportunities coming her way inside SAP, where she would serve in a variety of roles involving technology partnerships, business development, and product management. 

Fast-forward a few years, and we find Stanford Law graduate Burman serving as general counsel first to Mindjet and then to crowdsourcing innovation upstart Spigit.

“I would say that working from those perspectives—although it is a bit of a roundabout way to become a CFO—has really led me to a place where I can be a CFO with a business-minded, strategic approach,” says Burman, who points out that along the way, she was given the opportunity to closely observe the board room decision-making behind certain acquisitions designed to drive growth.

“The breadth of experiences that I have taken with me are not necessarily specific to my core finance role, but speak to my ability to understand cross-functionally what’s important to my peers,” Burman observes, while underscoring the growing cross-functional role that finance plays in business today.

For just as Burman’s resume has evolved, so too has the role of CFO. – Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Dec 01 2019

40mins

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Holiday Bonus: Catching The Next Wave, Again and Again | Steve Cakebread, CFO, Yext

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Yext CFO Steve Cakebread’s resume is extraordinary, given the preeminent companies he’s worked for (HP, Silicon Graphics, Autodesk, Salesforce.com, Pandora, and Yext), the new technology categories that he’s helped to bring to market, and the staggering growth that those organizations posted under his corporate-finance leadership. Cakebread joined Salesforce as employee #67 when the $10 billion company was eking out a quaint $20 million annually. Despite these Lebron-esque achievements, Cakebread humbly peppers his discussion with plenty of phrases like “I was fortunate to ….” Luckily for us, he also runs through a compelling set of career-building keys, including taking promotions to difficult roles that had remained unfilled for months “because everyone else thought they would fail” at the job; amassing international experience (a decade in China and India); and learning how to explain innovative business models and entirely new product categories to analysts and other stakeholders. He also shares his personally fulfilling approach to team-building at Yext, a B2B geomarketing company that provides a software platform for streamlining all of an organization’s online listings.

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Nov 27 2019

48mins

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551: Capitalizing on Efficiencies to Unlock New Value | Chris Sands, CFO, MineralTree

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When Chris Sands accepted an investor relations position at a midsize health care firm, he did so with the understanding that he would be permitted to occasionally sink his teeth into some of the firm’s growing FP&A challenges. Having a resume rich with investment banking experience, Sands was now determined to add some FP&A, a tour of duty that he viewed as a necessary prerequisite if he were going to advance down the CFO path.

Unbeknownst to Sands, his FP&A plate would shortly be overflowing following the acquisition of his new employer by Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, Massachusetts. In the aftermath, Sands was enlisted to help lead the science giant’s planning function, which allowed him to dine regularly on high-calorie planning and begin to consider his next opportunity.

Sands would open what he views as the third chapter of his career at MineralTree, after having been recruited by CEO Micah Remley, with whom Sands had worked earlier in his career.

“Anytime a company is looking to hire a CFO, they inevitably ask for CFO experience as if people are born with it, so, for me, getting that experience became really important,” observes Sands, who describes his decision to join MineralTree as a “no-brainer.”

Looking back, Sands says that he would advise up-and-coming finance executives to actively seek out leadership mentors and not hesitate when it comes to expressing aspirations to become a CFO. Says Sands: “People aren’t mind readers, but if they are a true mentor and know what your aspirations are, they will seek to enable you on your journey.” –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Nov 24 2019

35mins

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550: The Funnel: Where Sales & Finance Meet | Andrew Hicks, CFO, Advanced

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For every top sales leader who confides to friends that he or she is really a numbers freak at heart, there’s an Andrew Hicks, who, as CFO of Advanced, would be just as apt to boast about a sales funnel innovation as he would about the adoption of a new accounting rule.

In fact, it would probably not surprise Hicks’s past and present business colleagues to learn that when asked to identify a mentor from his past, Advanced’s CFO chooses the head of sales for a former employer.

“It was because of this relationship that I first experienced an inkling of how people can think about the business differently and think differently about what drives value in the firm,” explains Hicks, who found his mentor after being transferred to Austin from London by Misys, a UK-based software developer that today is part of Finastra.

“I had moved across the world, and the sales leader took me under his wing a bit as someone new in the U.S. who didn’t really have family or friends nearby. Talking to him really piqued my interest in learning more about how the business worked,” recalls Hicks, who would remain in the U.S. for nine years before being recruited for a CFO role back in London.

Along the way, Hicks’s professional network became energized via a budding relationship with private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, which enlisted him as an advisor after Vista bought a portion of Misys’s healthcare business. “Vista is continually working its network to find talent, and I was found by that means,” says Hicks, whose CFO career chapter has to date been populated by multiple Vista-owned companies. –Jack Sweeney 

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Nov 20 2019

36mins

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549: Stay the Course | Cort Townsend, CFO, Kofax Software

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As is the case with many finance leader resumes, Cort Townsend’s reveals a repetition of professional advancement and achievement that allows casual readers to quickly validate his CFO credentials. However, like those of many, Townsend self-tale is only a shorthand rendering of a career path filled with twists, turns, and high-stakes industry drama.

Such was the case in 2015 and 2016, a period in Townsend’s career annals with enough M&A high jinks and boardroom intrigue to fill an entire volume. Subsequently, though, in July 2017, Townsend landed neatly inside the CFO office of Kofax via an appointment that casual readers of his resume might have assumed was the natural next step for a dedicated senior executive who had already served as the firm’s controller and vice president of finance. So, where was all the drama?

Lost between the lines of Townsend’s resume was the acquisition of Kofax by Lexmark International in 2015 and the subsequent acquisition of Lexmark by Apex Technology in 2016. Along the way, Townsend was named finance chief of Lexmark’s enterprise software group, which turned out to be an abbreviated tour of duty that made him the obvious choice for a C-suite posting when Lexmark opted to spin off the software group in late 2016 and later sell it to private equity firm Thoma Bravo. The sale of the group would be completed in July 2017, the very month in which Townsend was appointed CFO of newly branded Kofax.

Witness just the type of swift-moving, complex narrative that allows even detail-oriented leaders like Townsend to much appreciate the virtues of a shorthand bio. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Nov 17 2019

36mins

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548: Raising Your Finance Voice | Mahesh Patel, CFO, Druva

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Nov 13 2019

43mins

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547: Enters the Change Agent | John Karnes, CFO, Vertafore

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CFOTL: What are your top of mind metrics?

Karnes: I think about metrics sort of under three rubrics. The first is what I would think of as a customer-centric layer. Then there's the financial performance one that we all think about as CFOs, and then there's a very distinct operational layer. On the customer-centric layer, we think about things like SLAs, our service-level agreements with our customers, uptime, system availability. These are the things--before we get to gross margin--that really impact our success as a business and what our next quarter is going to be like. There are things like customer health scoring in your customer success organization. Happy customers don't leave. Keeping your revenue is much cheaper than trying to go acquire new revenue. Things like NPS, net promoter score. Things that I watch very, very carefully are very customer-centric, as opposed to what's next, which is more pure financial performance. At the end of the day, your economics are based on your base business, your new business, and the investments that you make going forward. That's what drives economic performance. The first thing that I look at in the morning is churn and retention. "Churn," for those who aren't SaaS experts, is simply our subscriptions that are terminating and my customers that are leaving me or deciding to subscribe to me in a lesser amount. So, it's lost revenue. After that, it's gross margin. Obviously revenue is tops. Churn is my top line. Gross margin is after my cost of goods sold and tells me how efficiently I'm delivering my product. All of these businesses are built on free cash flow. After I pay my G&A, after I pay the capex that I've got, how much cash am I making and am I self-sufficient or dependent on the equity markets to grow my business? That's a really important part of the business, from a baseline. New business cost is very important. These are things like customer acquisition costs. I'm making an investment for every customer. How quickly do I get that investment back? How many months? Is it six, 12, 18 months before I recoup that investment? And, like all good SaaSware companies, we invest a tremendous amount of money in our future through research and development. The question is, What is the rate of return that we're engineering to for that research and development? How does this correlate with other opportunities that we may have, like acquisitions or debt repayment?

Nov 10 2019

37mins

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546: When Speed to Market Matters Most | Richard Steinhart, CFO, Bioxcel Therapeutics

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When asked what sets BioXcel Therapeutics apart from other clinical-stage biopharmaceutical companies, CFO Richard Steinhart doesn’t mention a specific drug or therapy. Instead, he describes a system that the company developed to advance the speed with which drugs are commercialized.

According to Steinhart, the biotech company’s system uses artificial intelligence to reveal “hidden connections” that, once exposed, can multiply opportunities for the application of certain drugs.

“Good drug developers can see first connections between drugs and diseases and they are pretty apparent to everyone out there, but second- and third-degree connections are not apparent,” explains Steinhart, who says that such connections have been too time-consuming and expensive to expose in the past.

“The last company I was with took 10 years to go from the discovery (of a drug to the licensing of the discovery to a phase two trial,” adds Steinhart, who reveals that it was BioXcel’s system for shortening the path to commercialization that first attracted him. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Nov 06 2019

38mins

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545: Get in Gear with ARR | Ken Stillwell, CFO, Pegasystems

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The way Ken Stillwell tells it, his career as a CFO can be divided into two distinct worlds: the world before ARR and the world after ARR.

ARR, of course, is the acronymic identifier for the widely used SaaS metric known as annual recurring revenue. Stillwell prefers to put his own twist on the acronym by declaring its actual meaning to be annual recurring relationships—as in client relationships.

Says Stillwell: “Whatever metric you use to measure recurring relationships is really misunderstood in the marketplace until you start to track it.” What happens next has led many a finance leader to shout, “Where have you been all my life!”

Or so Stillwell might have us believe in light of his evident passion for the metric and the singular emphasis that he places on it when asked about the career chapter that he has opened as CFO of Pegasystems, a firm specializing in customer engagement solutions.

“Once CFOs track it and begin reporting it, its value becomes so obvious—not just the value of the metric, but also that of the relationship with the customer and of the different mind-set and shift that occurs when you are an ‘as a service’ company and of making customer success a key part of keeping that relationship,” says Stillwell, who began his finance career in Price Waterhouse’s audit advisory services practice, which he soon exited to become part of an early PW mergers and acquisitions group where he would become involved in various deal-making activities outside the US. It was this experience that Stillwell says helped to propel him into a number of consecutive CFO roles, including his latest CFO tour of duty at Pegasystems.

“The one thing that’s different about Pega from my earlier experiences as a CFO is that Pega is one of those rare examples where a company is growing both at an accelerated pace—by this, I mean that it’s growing faster than the market growth rate—and also at significant scale,” explains Stillwell, who adds that Pegasystems is quickly approaching $1 billion in annual revenue. “In my previous experience, the companies were typically slower-growing and focused more on operational excellence and how to maximize shareholder value when growing in the single digits. Pega is an interesting mix of both growth and scale.” –Jack Sweeney

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Nov 03 2019

30mins

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544: Tales of a Finance Journeyman | John Pokorney, CFO, LeTip International

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Few finance leaders have boiled down the take-aways from their career journeys into as many palatable, bite-size portions as John Pokorney, CFO of LeTip International. Having found his original finance door of entry at Intel Corp. in the early 1990s, Pokorney credits the chipmaker’s collaborative culture for prodding him to speak the language of others and tap the power of narrative.

“I wasn’t there to create numbers for the engineering group that I was working with or the logistics organization that I ended up supporting, but I was there to be a business partner—and when you’re a business partner, you have to talk the language of the group you’re working with,” explains Pokorney, who would enter the ranks of entrepreneur CFOs after leaving Intel, where in a span of eight years he occupied the roles of finance analyst, finance manager, and group controller.

Reflecting on a number of different CFO tours of duty, Pokorney is able to quickly bring forth detailed memories of different places and times when business challenges were addressed and lessons learned. While certain ilks of finance leaders have reduced their career highlights to a single stock price or capital raise, Pokorney can be counted among the finance realm’s artful communicators who routinely draws people in by sharing wins, failures, and hard-earned insights. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leaders?

GO PREMIUM with CFO Thought Leader and each quarter we will ship you our CFO Thought Leader Quarterly Magazine featuring profiles of 25 different CFOs (4 issues, per yr.). What’s more, become a PREMIUM member before February 1, 2020 and we’ll ship you THE CFO Yearbook 2020  featuring 100 CFO profiles. Go Premium today learn more

Oct 30 2019

1hr 1min

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543: Whetting Your Firm's FP&A Appetite | Paul Willson, CFO, Compeat

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After years of careful finance career–building within the healthcare sector, Paul Willson came upon an opportunity inside Austin’s energetic technology start-up community that he found hard to resist.

Becoming employee number 23, he was immediately dubbed “the finance guy”—a label that he would wear for only 5 days before the ambitious start-up announced that it was being acquired by BMC Software.

At the time, Willson no doubt harbored some frustration concerning the timing of his arrival in the realm of entrepreneurial tech. However, in the weeks and months to come, the conventional wisdom that had fueled the tech community’s bravado would be stood on its head as the dot-com crash of 2000 scorched the entrepreneurial landscape and ended the life of many a start-up.

Back at BMC, Willson weathered the storm and joined their finance rank-and-file, where he grew accustomed to the ebb and flow of the technology world before jumping to Convio, a small, Austin-based, technology firm with IPO ambitions. “It was a great experience to build Convio from scratch, and this being 2005 when we started—the early days of SaaS companies—we were looking for any information that we could find on the business model,” explains Willson, who today credits Convio for allowing him to open the entrepreneurial career chapter that he had needed to put on hold a few years earlier. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leadership?

There’s no shortage of courses out there that promise to help you build a finance career. But the vast majority of these courses are taught by people who’ve never actually advanced into the CFO office.  The reason is pretty simple: CFOs are too busy helping to lead their companies to begin offering courses!  Subscribe to CFO Thought Leader Quarterly magazine or let us ship you our latest issue HERE

Oct 27 2019

29mins

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542.5: THREE for ONE Friday | CFOs: Chris Sands, Pavan Makhija, David Morris

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Oct 25 2019

9mins

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542: Now See This: One CFO's Data Visualization Mantra | Tim Zue, CFO, Boston Red Sox

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­­­When it comes to guessing a person’s email address, most of us would agree that the best way to optimize your odds of success is to first assume that the person was using their actual name as part of the address. From there, your next decision arguably is whether to spell out the individual’s first name or use an initial for it.

For Tim Zue, the calculation behind one guess was a bit more nuanced because although the first name of the person he was emailing was Lawrence, the man was widely known as Larry. With little to lose, Zue addressed the email to LLucchino@redsox.com.

Sixteen years later, Zue is CFO of the Boston Red Sox, and his “initial decision” sticks with him perhaps as a reminder that every carefully built career contains serendipitous moments.

Still, the email that Boston Red Sox then-CEO Larry Lucchino received from Zue did not come from a career-minded controller or accountant, and it was not a job inquiry. At the time, Zue was teaching 8th-grade math in the Boston public school system, and with a summer break quickly approaching, he had a thought: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to work for the Boston Red Sox as an unpaid intern?”

Such a thought is not unlike one widely shared today by Zue’s CFO peers, but in this case, there’s one necessary modification: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to be CFO of the Boston Red Sox?”

Meanwhile, not wanting to overstate the rewards of a correctly addressed email, it’s probably worth mentioning here that Lucchino’s unpaid intern was an MIT graduate with a prior tour of duty at Bain & Company as a management consultant. –Jack Sweeney

Do you want to learn more about the experiences that shaped today’s finance leadership?

There’s no shortage of courses out there that promise to help you build a finance career. But the vast majority of these courses are taught by people who’ve never actually advanced into the CFO office.  The reason is pretty simple: CFOs are too busy helping to lead their companies to begin offering courses!  Subscribe to CFO Thought Leader Quarterly magazine or let us ship you our latest issue HERE

Oct 23 2019

42mins

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541: Energizing Your Stakeholder Network | Smital Shah, CFO, ProQR

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As an Indian citizen living in the United States and working for a Dutch company, CFO Smital Shah frequently spends her days on conference calls with investors from Asia, Israel, or Europe.

On every investor call, at every board meeting, and at every employee gathering, the same question gets asked: “How far is ProQR from serving patients?” Each time she hears this, the firm’s worldly finance leader provides a thoughtful and measured response.

This is a question that punctuates the tenure of finance chiefs inside every clinical stage start-up, and one that Shah says has led her to seek out any synergies that she can between the finance function’s accounting and compliance processes and ProQR’s greater goal of creating medicines for patients who suffer from rare diseases.

Shah asks: “How do we facilitate—within the confines of finance—what we need to do in order to achieve this?”

ProQR expects to have collected the necessary data from its ongoing clinical trials to seek out approval for its new medicine from the Food and Drug Administration by early 2021 or perhaps sooner.

As for the “confines of finance,” any functional borders within ProQR have clearly already been breached by Shah, who implores her finance team to regularly listen to those beyond the functional boundaries. “This is about understanding that you as an individual contributor cannot always affect the magnitude of change that you want. Change will depend on your team and all of the stakeholders around it. So I think that this is about stakeholder management and truly listening to all and realizing that you achieve impact as a group,” explains Shah, whose finance leadership mind-set is perhaps the offspring of a borderless career. –Jack Sweeney

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Oct 20 2019

35mins

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540.5: THREE for ONE Friday | CFOs: Marty Moore, Greg Frost, Ralph Bender

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Oct 18 2019

12mins

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540: When the Whole is Greater | Lucy Rutishauser, CFO, Sinclair Broadcast Group

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Like a savvy investor, Lucy Rutishauser built her early career by carefully tracking the activities of different companies. Sometimes, to glean better insights, she would actually cold-call a company and ask for the finance department. But Rutishauser wasn’t looking to invest money—instead, she was looking to invest that all-so-valuable commodity known as career-building years.

“The take-away here is that as you are growing your professional career and moving from job to job, it’s crucial that the decisions that you make be valuable to a future employer and not just great for your bank account at that moment,” says Rutishauser, who would join Sinclair Broadcast Group after placing just such a cold call back in 1998.

Providing some additional background on what led her to originally place the call, Rutishauser explains: “I had been reading about Sinclair rolling up the industry and driving industry consolidation. They were located here in Baltimore, which is where I live. I figured that they were probably going to need an assistant treasurer, so I cold-called them and created a job for myself.”

While Rutishauser had successfully identified a hiring hot spot inside Sinclair, she sensed that the growing company appreciated her willingness to open the door and take some initiative—and would perhaps be open to more job creation down the line. “I selected a job that filled gaps in my background because Sinclair, being a smaller company at the time, really let me do a lot more than what a traditional assistant treasurer would be doing,” she recalls. In 2016—nearly 18 years after she placed her cold call—Rutishauser entered Sinclair’s CFO office, where she has already helped the media company to open a new chapter of growth – one that only last month led Sinclair to triple in size. –Jack Sweeney

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Oct 16 2019

34mins

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539: Own Your Next Challenge and Your Career | Jason Lin, CFO, Centage

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While tours of duty at struggling companies are seldom viewed as enviable career chapters for most professionals, finance leaders are often apt to savor the lessons that such tours of duty bring forth and even draw attention to such early chapters.

Such is the case with CFO Jason Lin, whose career journey includes chapters with a rapidly rising juggernaut (TripAdvisor) as well as with the revitalization of a flickering fallen star (Monster.com).

When asked why he singles out his “Monster chapter” as an experience that prepared him for a finance leadership role, Lin recalls the valuable lessons learned from “having to manage people through tough times—to motivate them without being able to offer a bonus or a salary increase and still be able to move the team forward.”

“There are challenges in both environments, and I think that having been at both ends of the spectrum has been beneficial for me,” says Lin, while quickly segueing to his days at TripAdvisor, where a cash-rich balance sheet and seemingly unlimited growth summoned finance to remain a calming influence and the guardian of responsible spending practices.

At Centage, Lin is opening yet another growth chapter, where scale is now top-of-mind and manual processes are being closely scrutinized as the upstart developer’s new CFO seeks to unclutter the path and prepare the runway for unencumbered growth. – Jack Sweeney

Subscribe to CFO Thought Leader Quarterly magazine or let us ship you our latest issue HERE

Oct 13 2019

36mins

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338.5: THREE For ONE Friday | CFOs Eric Loughmiller, Hugh Watchhorn, Jim Tholen

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Oct 11 2019

12mins

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