If we were asked to boil down our discussion with CFO Gary Golden to a single word, our answer would be: “judgment.”
It perhaps goes without saying that having good judgment is a prerequisite for every finance leader, and the quality frequently tops the list of reasons that CEOs give when asked to describe what sets apart one CFO candidate from another.
Still, the word comes to mind not because Golden uses it—which he does multiple times—but because he routinely draws our attention to the “decision-making” central to every CFO position and the experiences that have helped to shape the judgment that he uses to make sound business decisions.Read More
Golden’s professional life began as a lawyer in a Dallas law firm, where his goal was to become a top mergers and acquisitions attorney, but along the way he jumped to American Airlines.
“One of the reasons I left private practice for American is that they had a reputation for moving lawyers onto the business side of things,” explains Golden, who says that attorneys frequently found finance to be a convenient door-of-entry at American.
“Interestingly, at American, my mentors were not really attorneys, but I found mentors inside the finance organization,” remarks Golden, who says that his legal experience has served him well as he has taken on a number of different CFO roles.
“When you start training as a lawyer, you have a very detailed ‘what can go wrong?’ orientation that I have found to be very helpful to me as a CFO because you’re always thinking about what can blow up and you want to have this orientation that forces you to anticipate next steps,” comments Golden.
“Many times, you find yourself making judgments on things, and you decide not to do things even though you would really very much like to,” remarks Golden, who frequently uses the word “judgment” interchangeably or alongside “deciding” or “decision-making”—as in the sentence “As a CFO, your decision-making judgment is critical.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Cherwell. What does it do and what are its offerings?
Golden: Cherwell is in the space called enterprise service management. It’s a big space in a big market. Estimates for total addressable market in the space range from $50 billion to $70 billion. So, it’s very large, and that’s where we’re playing. We have a couple of things that distinguish us. One is our no-code platform, which has high capabilities, great flexibility, and a short implementation time. Also, it’s very easy to use. When you’re configuring this platform, no-code means that you can have business analysts within an organization configure it in the way that they want for their workflows. This is as opposed to a pro-code platform, which requires actual software developers to code it and make it happen. So, ours is a very flexible platform, and this is one of the things that distinguishes Cherwell.Read More
The other thing that distinguishes us is that I think that we’re Goldilocks—this is my term—in the sense that we’re not too expensive and we’re not too cheap. We’re just right. We also don’t have the highest range of product capabilities, but we have many more than are available at the low end. Again, we’re just right. So, we think that we’re kind of the right balance between value and price. We also focus on the middle market, which we define as companies with between 1,000 employees and 20,000 employees. We think that this is a good place to be.
There are some companies that focus on very small firms and provide very-low-cost offerings and very limited capabilities. The 800-pound gorilla in our space is called ServiceNow. They focus on the very largest enterprises, are quite expensive, have long implementation times, and are a pro-code type of solution. They have more features than we do in most places, but we think that we have the features that the vast majority of the market really values, as opposed to a lot of bells and whistles that they don’t. This kind of gets back to the Goldilocks theme. We think that we’re positioned in a good place.
Value Quote: “I’m highly focused on contribution margin, which is basically a combination of our cost of sales on a particular deal and our customer acquisition cost as related to our revenue. This is the one metric that I’m maniacally focused on because we want to make sure that we’re getting full value for our product and that we’re generating profits for the organization.” jb
Cherwell Software | www.cherwell.com | Colorado Springs, CO