“An accounting degree or MBA provides a foundational skillset, but that knowledge will not make you a great CFO. What makes a great CFO is the ability to pair that knowledge with critical skills like relationship building, problem solving, leadership, and ability to influence. Don’t lose sight of that.” -Kurt Shintaffer, CFO, Apptio
In the wake of an economic downturn, a company’s door of opportunity swings open to a finance up-and-comer. This is a familiar early career chapter for many finance leaders, and few have revealed to us the uncertainty surrounding the moment better than Apptio CFO Kurt Shintaffer.
“The CEO came to me and said, ‘Do you think that you have what it takes?’ I said, ‘Well, sure!,’ without really knowing what I was signing up for,” explains Shintaffer, who back in 2002 was a senior finance executive for Pacific Edge Software when the company’s then-CFO exited.Read More
Until this moment, Shintaffer’s resume arguably had resembled those of thousands of other finance career builders stationed along the different rungs of finance’s corporate ladder who, like him, may have also had completed a stint in public accounting (Shintaffer spent three years at Ernst & Young).
Still, at 28 years of age, Shintaffer was already aware that his technical knowledge was not what would make the difference in the days ahead.
“I had to rely on all of the relationships that I had built to help me find my way. I was super-open about what I didn’t know, and I tried to learn from other people. I think that when you sort of make yourself vulnerable like this, people lean in for you,” remarks Shintaffer, while recalling the mind-set that he quickly acquired to meet the challenges ahead.
Meanwhile, his ability to be calm under pressure began to become evident as his appetite for multitasking grew, and he found his relationship with the business changing.
Says Shintaffer: “I was able to stay just far enough ahead of all of the things that were coming at me so that I could at least create this illusion of control, and I think that even to this day there are still some times when you just have to stay one step ahead.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Apptio … what does this company do and what are its offerings today?
Shintaffer: At the most fundamental level, we’re an enterprise SaaS business. We sell our services to businesses all over the globe. We’re the leader in this category that we pioneered called technology business management, or TBM. It’s easiest to think of us as the business system for the CIO. So, think internal IT. We’re the business system to help the CIO to manage through all of the complexity that they have and to help to enable them to get through this digital transformation that’s happening right now.Read More
Probably the best analogy would be to think about the CFO having his ERP system, or the financial package. The head of sales has their CRM system. The head of HR has HCM. We’re this equivalent for the CIO. For years and years, the CIO has been buying and implementing systems for every other part of the enterprise. But just as in the classic tale of the cobbler’s children having no shoes, CIOs didn’t have a management system for themselves. And as IT has become so strategic and so complex, you no longer can manage an IT organization on spreadsheets and with ad hoc processes.
Our software helps both CIOs and finance leaders because the key partners in an implementation of Apptio are the CIO and the CFO. They’re wanting to answer things like: How much am I spending on these IT services? What’s the ROI of these investments? Or maybe they want to do scenario planning: If I move these on-premise workloads to the cloud, what’s the financial impact? What’s the operational impact? We help across all of these types of potential use cases at virtually any level of maturity that an IT organization might have.
Ultimately, what our customers want is to make sure that they’re spending their IT dollars in all of the right places—the most impactful places, that is. If not, they should be optimizing their IT spend so that they can then reallocate these funds to do things that are really business critical and are going to drive their company forward. Now is just a great time for our business because there’s this explosion of the cloud. There’s this prevalence of DevOps. There’s this hybrid IT world that still exists. Its complexity is very great, so we help IT leaders and finance leaders to sort of control all of this chaos and make good decisions about how to spend their money.
Apptio | www.apptio.com | Bellevue, WA