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Jacqueline Purcell’s path to the CFO office began inside an Australian law firm where as a young attorney she was advising corporate clients and their bankers on how to best address some of the legal hurdles that their M&A deal-making might confront.
At the time, her routine collaboration with different banking executives gave her a point of comparison to the seemingly less energetic legal world.
“They seemed to be having a little more fun and a lot more impact on the outcomes,” she recalls.
“This is what sparked my interest in moving into finance,” continues Purcell, who was soon headed to Stanford University for an MBA and then to New York, where she joined Morgan Stanley’s M&A practice.
“I spent just over 8 years there focusing on a full spectrum of mergers and acquisitions transactions,” comments Purcell, who says that it was during those years of M&A deal-making that she grew to respect the CFO role and the executives who filled it.
“CFOs were very often the ones in the driver’s seat for the deals, and they were just particularly influential,” notes Purcell, who realized that the CFOs across from whom she sat often applied deep operating experience to their decision-making.
Determined to add an “operations stripe” to her sleeve, Purcell would exit Morgan Stanley in 2017 and return to Australia, where she would step into her first CFO role at Culture Amp, a workforce management company headquartered in Melbourne. Purcell’s appetite for operational insight has since led her to join Deputy, of Sydney, Australia, where today she resides at the intersection of finance and operations. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Jacqueline Purcell
Headquarters: Sydney, Australia
CFOTL: Tell us about the metrics that are top-of-mind for you at Deputy …
Purcell: As a finance leader, I’m obviously interested in financial data, but in many ways that tells you what has already happened in the business. I’m interested in the connection between financial and operational data and want to understand the connection in order to uncover what are the real, most critical leading indicators that are going to tell us where the company’s going. That includes both understanding the potential to bring in revenue from new customers and also how the behaviors of existing customers may change, whether that’s expanding with you or churning. I work really closely with our data team and, in particular, during the early months of COVID, we worked really closely together to establish what we called a COVID-19 dashboard. That was relatively operationally focused, actually, in terms of understanding the behavior of our users in the product and what they may tell us about what then would happen on our revenue side.
We’re looking at things like the time between when companies are scheduling shifts and when people are working. We’re looking at activity levels on the platform, how many shifts are being scheduled, and how many employees are then actually going and working those shifts. We’re using that data to inform our forecast of what will happen in the business. In addition to that, I also track all the typical SaaS metrics around new customer acquisition, MRR, and so forth. Deputy is very much a monthly recurring business for the most part and really focused on our efficiency metrics. We want to know how much it is costing us to acquire customers and how long it takes us to recoup that cost. jb