At the age of 31, David Woodworth was offered CFO positions at two different firms. The first offer came from his then current employer, where as vice president of finance he was keenly aware of urgent challenges that the company’s next CFO would need to address. The second offer came unsolicited from a smaller company in the same field, where he could expect to ease into the role and set the pace for his first 100 days.
“It was a hard decision, and one where you wish there was a silver bullet,” says Woodworth, who opted to stay where he was, which was at a highly leveraged firm that had recently been taken private by a group of investors.Read More
Woodworth’s early chapter flies in the face of the widely expressed conundrum that to become a CFO, you have to be a CFO. However, in Woodworth’s case, the price of entry to the CFO office was a cool head and an even keel—or at least being someone capable of working alongside a group of edgy investors.
“I had to embrace the role pretty quickly and operate in some unique environments,” he adds.
Thinking back on his first CFO tour of duty, Woodworth concludes by saying, “The advice that I would like to give to someone stepping into a CFO role would be about how to prioritize and how to say ‘no.’” – Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: As you improve your visibility into the business, what types of metrics are you adding to the mix? Are you relying on certain nonfinancial metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS)?
Woodworth: The customer metrics that I sometimes refer to are really customer-specific internal dashboards. We don’t look at a general NPS. We tend to look at very specific customer usage and customer support types of metrics. More broadly speaking, we focus very much on annual recurring revenue and corresponding margins by product type, as we’ve brought lots of products together. Certainly, in the COVID world, working capital is extremely important, too, as all finance execs are working to navigate their companies through this period of uncertainty.Read More
Stepping back for a strategic, end-to-end view, certainly we look at LTV-to-CAC—that’s long-term customer value to customer acquisition costs. We look at development spend and return in terms of our normal course and rhythm around assessing our development road map. We look at sales capacity and all those sorts of metrics that align with this kind of line of sight that finance has to look at the company from end to end.
Nobody has a crystal ball, obviously, right? For finance executives, we have to plan for the worst and have playbooks that reveal how to respond, whether from kind of lower impact conditions to severe ones. The way we’ve looked at it—and what our indications are as of today—is that we believe that this trough, for lack of a better word, or this negative impact is going to carry forward throughout 2020 and ultimately into 2021. We’ve run four different scenarios, just for our own plays, to figure out and determine the different actions that either we since have already taken or that we will take, depending upon certain milestones as we navigate through this period of uncertainty.
Given the environment that we’re living in today, working from home, we have COVID among us. I’m still building out the team. Priority #1 for me is building out the talent and the processes within my team to deliver on the commitments that I’ve made to our company and ultimately to our customers and investors as well. jb
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