Last week, CloudHealth Technologies CFO Larry Begley was named CFO of the Year by the Boston Business Journal! We took some time to sit down with Larry to get his thoughts on what it means to be a CFO…and how the role has evolved.
1.) Congratulations on being named a BBJ CFO of the Year winner! A lot of work goes into being a top CFO. What can other aspiring CFOs learn from you?
As a CFO, you are always focused on the broad spectrum of investments your company is making—or needs to make. However, your true priority should always be centered around the people you hire. Bring on the best available talent, continue to invest in them through supporting their career growth, and create a motivating culture where they can thrive. In fact, we just moved into our new office at 100 Summer Street, designed to foster collaboration, innovation and passion across our employee base…and the enthusiasm is palpable! More to come on that.
2.) In your view, how has the CFO role changed over the past several years?
I think the CFO role has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Globalization has created a need for CFOs to develop a finance function that works effectively around the world. Also, the global growth in regulations and exogenous threats like cybersecurity attacks require CFOs to be strong in risk management and compliance. Finally, CFOs are playing a greater role in strategy development and validation. This is in part due to the growth in big data which affords CFOs the ability to use their analytical skills to help evaluate companies’ strategic alternatives.
3.) When it comes to the cloud, do you feel the CFO is primed to be a key player in cloud initiatives as well?
Yes, today’s CFO is expected to understand emerging technologies and where things are headed…and cloud-based solutions have become the norm because they can be rapidly deployed, and they drastically reduce the cost of IT infrastructure. Many of our CloudHealth end users are CFOs and are in financial functions. The movement of infrastructure from the data center to the cloud is the biggest technology trend in 20 years, and much of CloudHealth’s rapid growth and success is because we are the market leader in cloud service management. Not only do we serve the largest public cloud spenders in the world, but we “eat our own dog food” by using the CloudHealth platform to, among other things, keep our cloud spend as low as possible.
4.) What is it like being a CFO at a company experiencing such rapid growth on a global scale?
Challenging and fun! One of the biggest challenges is cash flow management, which entails fundraising and capital deployment. We’ve successfully raised $86m, but it’s important to determine where to invest that capital and at what pace. We have a huge and growing market opportunity, so we are investing heavily to maintain and grow our market leadership position. Secondly, you need to have key performance indicators in every department and sound reporting systems to measure performance against them. That helps determine when and where to turn up the “cash knob”. Lastly, you need to hire great people and deploy scalable systems to keep up with the pace of your rapid growth!
5.) What do you most enjoy about being a CFO at CloudHealth Technologies?
Not to sound corny, but as referenced earlier, it’s the people! CloudHealth has recruited the best available talent in all of our geographies, and we are focused on ensuring our culture fosters development, while rewarding innovation, accountability and contributions at every level in the organization. Eighty percent of our employees are millennials, a generation I am fond of because of their sense of wonder, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and innovative thinking. We come to work every day looking to thrill our customers and partners and to build the next big Massachusetts-based technology company!