Just as Michelle McComb was imagining that she would shortly be joining another Silicon Valley start-up as a finance leader, the CFO of Lucent Technologies helped to upend her plans.
Back in the early 2000s, McComb’s first CFO tour of duty was coming to an end with the successful sale of her company to a larger, publicly held software firm. However, within a matter of months, the buyer was itself acquired by the giant telecommunications player, and Lucent’s CFO offered up a question to McComb: “What would it take to keep you?”
The coveted query is one that career builders long to hear but don’t always answer in optimal ways.Read More
“I packed my bags and moved to England, where I became CFO of one of Lucent’s major divisions,” she explains, leaving little doubt that her answer had landed well.
“I received tremendous international exposure as I traveled extensively and got to deal with finance people with very diverse backgrounds,” says McComb, who worked abroad 5 years before returning to the U.S., where, over time, she has occupied the CFO office for a string of technology companies. The latest is Bluecore, a marketing technology firm that she joined in May of 2020.
Of course, in light of the pandemic, it’s safe to say that Bluecore will likely be a career chapter unlike any that have preceded it, and, not unlike her CFO peers, McComb finds herself now being drawn to the mix of financial and cultural levers that influence Bluecore’s workforce.
“I think that the people strategy—especially as we come through environments like COVID—is going to be extremely important to ensuring how we retain and hire the right talent, especially when it comes to remote. What does the new office environment look like?,” comments McComb, who begins voicing a series of questions: “What is our compensation philosophy today? Are we competitive? Are we a merit-based company?”
It’s just such questions that in the wake of pandemic make McComb—perhaps more than some other CFOs—better prepared to land on the right answer. –Jack Sweeney
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Guest: Michelle McComb
Headquarters: New York, NY
CFOTL: What are your priorities as a finance leader as we go forward?
McComb: I think it’s super important that you have a solid foundation. So for me, I got to make sure that that foundation of my GL’s accurate. I can close the books in a timely way. And make certain I have got audited financial statements. Those are super important. But as a finance leader, you’re not going to get credit for them. So make them happen, get them done, and then it’s important to move on to other things.
And so for me, looking over the next 12 months, especially in light of COVID, I think it’s paying attention to the capital strategy. So around cash management investment, what do we need to look at? … Should we look at acquiring a company or other companies? What do we want to do with our investments in our cash strategy?Read More
So that’s one side. I’m going to add to that because I think a lot of times CFOs do tend to (focus) on capital and cash. I’m one of those CFOs who look at people as a huge asset. I also look after the people function at Bluecore and I think the people strategy, especially as we come through environments like COVID, is going to be extremely important to ensuring how we retain and hire the right talent, and especially when it comes to remote. What does the new office environment look like?
And then the last thing that I would say that I’m looking at is all around the other keyword that I mentioned to you earlier, around data. I think data is going to be absolutely essential in helping the company transform strategically. The decisions we’re going to make, the avenues we’re going to take to support our customers. So it’s really double clicking down on the data side of things. And the analytics because it’s not just about data. What is the data telling us? What changes do we need to make? What’s the story being told? And I think it’s just going to become increasingly important to help get the company to the next spot in its journey.