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Back in the early 1990s, with both feet firmly planted on an auditing career path inside Price Waterhouse’s Tampa, Florida, office, Raj Dani decided to take a detour into the accounting house’s M&A advisory practice.
Over the next few years, the one-time auditor began providing deal-makers with financial and operational due diligence on their future mergers and acquisitions.
“I became focused on cash and EBITDA generation, the strategic value of two enterprises coming together, and how you drive synergies and value for shareholders,” explains Dani, who says that his segue into M&A opened the door to experiences that have never for a minute led him to reconsider the auditor’s path.
Dani’s jump into Price Waterhouse’s M&A advisory services also allowed the former auditor to gain international experience when the M&A practice shortly thereafter transferred him to Zurich, Switzerland.
It is perhaps little surprise that Dani’s post-PW career has also involved both M&A and Europe. Looking to enhance its European operations as well as its new ventures portfolio, Jabil Circuit enlisted Dani to help lead its corporate development efforts from its Milan, Italy, office.
Reflecting on his different M&A roles overseas, Dani says that “it was just a major life lesson on how to treat people when you’re integrating two cultures and how to be respectful of people and their differences.”
Today, as CFO of Ping Identity, of Denver, Colorado, Dani credits his early-career “M&A detour” along with his budding relationships inside the private equity realm for having helped advance him into the CFO office. – Jack Sweeney
Guest: Raj Dani
Company: Ping Identity
Headquarters, Denver, CO
CFOTL: What are your priorities as a finance leader over the next 12 months?
Dani: In terms of our priorities at Ping Identity and my own as a finance leader overall, my first priority is making sure that I continue to work from a team perspective, to work on progressing my team’s knowledge base and experience, and to thus give them greater career path opportunities. If you don’t think long-term about your people, they’re thinking long-term about themselves, and they want to make sure that they’re partnered with a company and leader who have their best interests in mind. This is not something that most leaders think of just off the top of their head as their number one priority, but it is absolutely all about the people for me because without these people, we would get bogged down very quickly. We hire well, we train well, and we make sure that they’re getting out of the company just as much as the company is getting out of them. You cannot have this equation be out of balance. So, I really do prioritize the people-centric initiatives from a business perspective.
We’re doing several things in terms of new products that we’ve introduced in the past few quarters. As we mentioned on our last quarterly call, we’re now really leaning into designing sales and marketing investments to monetize some of these product investments. A lot of my focus will be on the operations of the business and making sure that our new CMO is successful and getting what he needs to continue to elevate our brand such that Ping Identity is top-of-mind in any cybersecurity discussion with global systems integrators, with board-level folks, with C-suites, and so on.
I’ll also be making sure that our execution, from marketing to product to sales, is just a smooth supply chain, if I can use that analogy. There are investments that we need to make in each, so just making sure that we’re making the right investments at the right time and really enabling our teams to be successful is top-of-mind for me.