“You want to be a CFO.” The second the words reached his ears, Bernard Huger experienced a moment of clarity that ultimately lifted a stubborn fog from the future path of his finance career. While this was not the first occasion when such a thought had entered his head, this time the words were delivered by a professionally accomplished friend, who wielded an air of objectivity.
Like many investment bankers, Huger had found the doorway to corporate development positions less illuminated than those to other corporate roles, while at the same time C-suite doors-of-entry were especially hard to find.
“It wasn’t so obvious to me, but as I explained more about the types of things that I wanted to do, I realized that he was right,” says Huger, who left investment banking after 12 years to become CFO of MuleSoft, a fast-growing San Francisco software firm. “Let’s just say that I caught a tiger by the tail,” recalls Huger, who today derives from the experience a lesson for others: “It was painful, but biting off more than you can chew and pushing yourself is critical to accelerating your career.”
Asked about the type of CFO role that he envisioned for himself when he joined OneLogin, Huger focuses his comments on hiring and building a team. Only by having standout talent, Huger explains, will finance be able to signal to the organization at large that it is “a creative force” and capable of creating analytical models that other parts of the organization can leverage to foresee the trajectory of the business. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Bernard Huger
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
CFOTL: What was the type of team that you wanted to create at OneLogin?
Huger: When you look at our expense profile and the expense profiles of many software companies, you see that two-thirds of the expenses are people-related. People are what drive this business. Having the right folks and having a team that lives up to our values and pulls together to create and own and be accountable for this business is what will make us successful or not. For me, it’s having a team not only that I can hire, but also that I can lead and that will help to support me. The whole company is fundamental. We can talk about the product, we can talk about a lot of other great things inside of OneLogin, but it all comes down to the people. I didn’t know this in my first days as CFO, but it’s something that I certainly have learned over time.
To be quite honest with you, I went quite some time in my first role as a CFO without building any kind of real team underneath me. It was a very small team. We were super-efficient, great people, but we just weren’t scaling our team in any way at the same rate as the rest of the company. When I finally hired an awesome VP-level controller and another person who was a VP-level business operations exec, I started to see the amazing scale that I could get as a CFO. Then I started to realize how important hiring and getting the team successful was at that first company. In places that I’ve been since, this has really hit home for me, and it’s my number one thing. jb