Years from now, when Andrew Casey reflects back on his CFO career and seeks to make sense of its various chapters, he may want to title the mythical volume Timing Is Everything. Certainly, few expressions might better summarize the career path of a finance executive who for years diligently checked off each CFO prerequisite only to arrive in the CFO office in March 2020—the very month when industry faced the seismic consequences of COVID-19.
No matter what lies ahead for Casey—or how he chooses to label his arrival in the C-suite at SaaS digital adoption enabler WalkMe—there’s little doubt that COVID-19 and industry’s response to it will become a defining chapter of his finance career.
Says Casey: “You learn from the good times and the down times, but when finance is most important to an organization is the down times because finance is the unbiased party in the room with respect to employee priorities as well as overall priorities.”
Turn back the clock to 2019, when Dan Adika, CEO of WalkMe, was meeting with Casey to make the case for the widening appeal of WalkMe’s digital offerings. “About halfway through the meeting, I said, ‘This is one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever had,’ and he asked, ‘Why is that?’ I said, ‘It feels like you’re just pitching me on the company.’ He stopped midstream and looked me in the eye and said, ‘Well, you know, we’re already convinced about you. We’re just trying to sell WalkMe to you.’ At that moment, I knew that I could ask any question, and I knew that my rapport with Dan was going to be strong,” recalls Casey, who at the time was a senior vice president of finance for cloud computing giant ServiceNow. “At that moment,” there was little question that for Casey, timing was everything. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Andrew Casey
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
CFOTL: Tell us about your arrival at WalkMe and how you’ve begun to prioritize the work that lies ahead?
Casey: One of the first things that I’ve done is to let people know who I am—that I have a family, that I have aspirations for myself and for the company, and that these things are very much interlocked. I want them to understand that I am not here to just come in and put my stamp on things—that I am here to really try to help architect the right organization with business processes that support our overall company objectives. The first priority for me is building the foundation for a world-class finance group. This starts with understanding the needs of the business and then what functions and processes we need to build in place. I’ve seen what it looks like to be in a world-class execution company. I would say that we don’t have this yet, but we’re going to build it.
One of my first steps is to build some core processes and build out the organization. This means having a forecasting process. We’re talking about having a pricing strategy and having some discipline and cadence with our sales team on their selling process and partnering with the businesses to do this. This is about partnering with our sales leader and partnering with our services leader to make sure that we’re ready to have an execution machine in place so that when the opportunities are there, we can take advantage of them with my team here for support.
So, first, it’s building some of these foundations. Over the longer term, I want us to be the organization that provides the critical data insights for people to use to make decisions, while also putting appropriate controls in place so that guardrails are there for how we expand. We are not a growth-at-any-cost business. Sometimes it’s easy in the Valley for people to rationalize growth at any cost, but that’s certainly not the way we should build a business. We have to be prudent and strategic about where we’re making investments and expect a good level of return, much like any business would say.