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

CFO Thought Leader

Release Date: 12/04/2019

623:  When an Opportunity Rises to Meet You | Sinohe Terrero, CFO, Envoy show art 623: When an Opportunity Rises to Meet You | Sinohe Terrero, CFO, Envoy

CFO Thought Leader

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622: Elevating Your Organization's Financial IQ | Shane Hansen, CFO, Planful show art 622: Elevating Your Organization's Financial IQ | Shane Hansen, CFO, Planful

CFO Thought Leader

CFOTL: Having only stepped in to the CFO office in April, what is the vision you have for the role of CFO?  Hansen: I’m really keen on having Planful be a world class FP&A organization and definitely be one of the best users of the Planful platform. I think that’s important for us as an organization to eat our own cooking so to speak. On the second initiative of covering the basics, particularly in times like these where there’s high level of uncertainty, we need to be able to iterate on company plans and department plans. We need to be able to adjust budgets and investments and...

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621: The CFO as Science Enabler | Ivor Macleod, CFO, Athersys show art 621: The CFO as Science Enabler | Ivor Macleod, CFO, Athersys

CFO Thought Leader

When veteran CFO Ivor Macleod first contemplated joining an early-stage pharma company, the condition  known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) was not appearing in nightly news headlines and was yet to be ranked as the  number one cause of death among COVID-19 patients. Nevertheless, ARDS captured his attention—or rather, Athersys did.  The Cleveland, Ohio–based company, with fewer than 100 employees, met one of Macleod’s foremost criteria in that the company was  focused on the area of medicine known as “critical care”—a space that Macleod...

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620: When People Matter Most |  Laurie Krebs, CFO, Red Hat show art 620: When People Matter Most | Laurie Krebs, CFO, Red Hat

CFO Thought Leader

It was October 2019. Red Hat, Inc., was preparing to submit its latest quarterly results to its new parent, IBM Corp., and Laurie Krebs had just been named Red Hat software’s new CFO. As a senior vice president of finance for Red Hat, Krebs had worked closely with the former CFO and more or less assumed that the acquiring company would likely prefer to fill C-suite spots from its “home team” talent bench of senior executives. In fact, Krebs says that during the course of her career she had never truly aspired to be a CFO: “I often wondered who would want all of that responsibility,...

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619: Using Data to  Power Up  Ad Inventory| Ray Carpenter, CFO, Xandr show art 619: Using Data to Power Up Ad Inventory| Ray Carpenter, CFO, Xandr

CFO Thought Leader

When Ray Carpenter retraces his steps to the CFO office at Xandr—an analytics and advertising company formed by AT&T’s WarnerMedia—he singles out two earlier roles as having been outside AT&T’s traditional finance track. “I actually got kicked out of finance for one role,” says Carpenter, referring to a stint as a marketer inside a start-up launched by AT&T’s emerging business markets group. “We did things that were uniquely different from what AT&T typically does when it launches a new business,” continues Carpenter, who in addition to marketing was...

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618: From COVID's Initial Shock to IPO in 60 Days   | Dave Jones, CFO, Vroom show art 618: From COVID's Initial Shock to IPO in 60 Days | Dave Jones, CFO, Vroom

CFO Thought Leader

Not unlike the careers of his finance leader peers, the finance career of Dave Jones, CFO of online car seller Vroom, has been shaped and influenced by economic crises of the past two decades. Last month, as the initial shock of the coronavirus waned and the stock market rallied back, Vroom moved quickly to go public. Explains Jones: “We consulted with our board and our investors and decided that the time was right.” After pricing its IPO shares at $22, Vroom saw their value more than double on their first day of trading. This was not the first time that Jones had discovered a window of...

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617:  Finding Your Seat at the M&A Table   | Dennis McGrath, CFO, PAVmed show art 617: Finding Your Seat at the M&A Table | Dennis McGrath, CFO, PAVmed

CFO Thought Leader

Dennis McGrath was only recently married and a new home owner when he was invited to a Phillies game by the CFO of AC Manufacturing. At the time, McGrath was working for Andersen as an auditor of a roster of growing companies, among which AC—a maker of industrial air-conditioning units—was perhaps not the most glamorous. “At the end of the night, the CFO told me that he wanted to hire me and would pay me a lot more than I was then making,” recalls McGrath, who doesn’t hesitate to reveal what allowed AC’s offer to trump all other opportunities. Says McGrath: “I went for the...

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616:  Predictability and the Pipeline | Ashim Gupta, CFO, UiPath show art 616: Predictability and the Pipeline | Ashim Gupta, CFO, UiPath

CFO Thought Leader

When asked to share a few of the experiences that he feels prepared him for a CFO role, Ashim Gupta recalls what he characterizes as a significant accounting problem. However, it was not the nature of the accounting snag that Gupta wants us to know about but instead how his initial response to the problem was somewhat clumsy and ineffective. The event occurred more than 10 years into his finance career and did not lengthen the path to his next promotion because he had only just arrived in a new role as a divisional CFO for GE Water, a General Electric Corp. operating unit specializing in water...

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615: Validating Your Proof Points for Investors  | Jeff Epstein, (CFO Emeritus) Oracle, DoubleClick, King World show art 615: Validating Your Proof Points for Investors | Jeff Epstein, (CFO Emeritus) Oracle, DoubleClick, King World

CFO Thought Leader

In the mid-1990s, when Jeff Epstein was busy satisfying the M&A appetites of media clients for First Boston, one of his smaller, but more boisterous clients asked him to join the firm as its CFO.   “It was the type of situation where if they had gone to a recruiter, I would never have made the resume cut because I had never been a CFO and I had never even worked for a CFO,” explains Epstein, who was 32 when he entered the lively entrepreneurial realm known as King World Productions. A one-time family-owned company, King World had seen its stature grow inside New York’s...

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614: In Pursuit of Data's Deep Impact | Matt Borowiecki, CFO, Biofourmis show art 614: In Pursuit of Data's Deep Impact | Matt Borowiecki, CFO, Biofourmis

CFO Thought Leader

When asked what led him to open his latest career chapter as CFO of Biofourmis, Matt Borowiecki quickly mentions the 2018 sale of MassMutual Asia Ltd. to Yunfeng FG. After helping to piece together a string of strategic plays for MassMutual, Borowiecki was instrumental in effecting the Yunfeng FG deal, which was a standout for him personally as well as one that many industry analysts at the time deemed transformational for company. Having helped to spearhead the transaction, Borowiecki was subsequently asked to relocate to Hong Kong and lead international strategy and corporate development for...

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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

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