589: Builder, Fixer, Finance Chief | Bob Feller, CFO, Workforce Software

Listen to the Episode Below (00:53:03)

Last November, CFO Bob Feller achieved a career milestone of sorts when he celebrated his fifth anniversary as Workforce Software’s finance leader.

“Prior to this, the longest that I have ever stayed anywhere has been four years,” explains Feller, who says that the cadence of his CFO career transitions is normally in step with those of other tech sector CFOs, who are known to job-hop every three to four years.

Still, Feller mentions his recent anniversary to draw our attention to his resolve to help build Workforce into a formidable SaaS challenger inside the realm of workforce management software.

“It reminds me of when I started at Salesforce and we were up against Siebel—which was then acquired by Oracle—and everyone thought that we didn’t have a chance,” says Feller, who held controller and VP of finance roles during a four-year stint at Salesforce. Feller says that Salesforce’s singular focus as a SaaS company allowed it to overstep its merged rivals, who—while many times the size of Salesforce—failed to exploit all of the maturing advantages of the SaaS model.

Feller believes that this rivalry was similar to one that Workforce has today with HR software behemoth Kronos, of Lowell, Massachusetts.

“With every deal that we close, we pretty much take market share from Kronos,” says Feller, while naming the widely known rival that is roughly 15 times the size of Workforce.

Says Feller: “We like to say that we’re ‘Zeus to Kronos’—and if you don’t know your Greek mythology, just search on ‘Zeus, son of Kronos’ and you will discover just what Zeus ended up doing to Kronos.” Needless to say, there’s a reason that Zeus, and not his father, was known as ruler of the gods. –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Bob Feller

Company: Workfore Software

Connect: www.workforcesoftware.com

Corporate Offices: Livonia, MI 

CFOTL: Tell us about your arrival at Workforce and what this career chapter means for you?

Feller: How has my career evolved? I tend to be a builder and a fixer. I come into situations when some kind of a transformational event either has happened or is about to happen. This obviously goes back to Salesforce, where I had to build a team as we were building the company and prepping for an IPO, and has continued on to Workforce, where the company was founder-led for a number of years. You know, the founder did a great job in building the company, but it was really his first job out of business school. His first job out of business school was being our CEO. This happens all the time. The company did a lot of things well, but on the administration side, there was a lot of work to be done.

When we were acquired by Insight Venture Partners in 2014, I was the first hire that they made. They were looking for an experienced SaaS CFO who really knew how to put together not just a team but also the appropriate SaaS company metrics—the KPIs—and who knew how to work with a private equity firm and build a team to support that. Yes, this took time, but this is part of what I do to transform an organization. It’s not like I come in and aim to replace everybody. There’s a lot of great talent in these companies. It’s really putting them in the right place and in a position to succeed and then making sure that they know what they’re in for when they’re coming out of what the company used to be and going through the transformation into what it’s going to be.

…The way we think about community is important. It’s not just our employees—our employee community— but also the greater communities that we’re part of. We’re a global company. We’re part of the Michigan community. We’re part of the Sydney, Australia, community. We’re part of the London, UK, area community. We try to do a lot to support community activities everywhere.