“As critical as it is to have technical skills, it’s equally (if not more) important to always work on your interpersonal skills. So much of the job of CFO is about numbers, but as you build out an organization, you need to relate to people and be an effective communicator.” –Chitra Balasubramanian, CFO, CircleCI
Talk to—or about—CircleCI CFO Chitra Balasubramanian, and you’ll hear the word “team” early and often. The phrase describes her leadership approach and how her finance group equips colleagues with next-level business and customer insights.
Visit her LinkedIn page, and you’ll see current and former colleagues tell us how much value (and fun) she brings to any “solve team.” And it is Balasubramanian who always cites her “insights team” when discussing her group’s FP&A activities at CircleCI, a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform that helps developers to do their work faster while ensuring high-quality code.Read More
The key to delivering actionable business insights, Balasubramanian notes, includes creating clear problem statements and outcomes. When this clarity is wanting, Balasubramanian’s insight team clicks into exploratory mode. Once the financial analysts have determined what the business needs to make better decisions, it’s time to distill. “We don’t want to simply relay a party bag full of information,” Balasubramanian asserts. “Our role is to deliver insights that are consumable and that immediately stimulate a productive dialogue among our stakeholders.”
That these financial analyses could influence shareholder value marks a touchstone career moment for Balasubramanian, who previously worked at RetailNext. “Finance teams have a lot of opportunities to lean in and drive the business forward,” she adds. “By looking at customer data from a finance perspective, we can glean new insights that help other business stakeholders to actually improve the end-customer experience.” Such a focus on delivering beyond-finance insights is fitting, given that Balasubramanian is the only CFO currently on the board of trustees team at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
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CFOTL: Tell us about CircleCI … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Balasubramanian: I will start by saying that CircleCI is a pretty technical product, but to put it simply, we really aim to empower software developers to take ideas to execution at scale continuously, confidently, and quickly. Ultimately, we want to enable our customers to provide value to their end users quickly because, as we know, in the world today, software is everywhere. Whether it’s how folks exercise or how people work, it’s very important that they have up-to-date software in all of the applications that they’re using. We ultimately help our customers to deliver this value to end users in a way that’s confident and that’s embedded with quality and speed. We have helped thousands of customers worldwide—such as Samsung, Peloton, and Ford—validate changes in software so that they can ultimately deliver this value.Read More
Given the rapidly growing software development environment, including the adoption of the cloud and other modern development technologies, we have found that software development teams across the globe are actually at various stages of their own evolution. One theme that really permeates every aspect of CircleCI’s business is flexibility and meeting customers where they’re at in their journeys. This is actually apparent in everything from our business model and how we price to what we offer and how we offer it, as well as in the technology choices that we make for what goes into our product. Our go-to-market model is a bottom-up, self-serve, freemium model, but we also have a top-down, higher-touch, sales option. Having this dual process helps us to engage with our customers in a way appropriate to their needs as well as their size.
This has also led to us having a pretty diversified customer base. We actually just celebrated having over 200,000 teams on our platform. I remember celebrating our first thousand customers. It’s been great to see this growth and to have been able to make our technology accessible to so many people around the world. We offer a usage-based pricing model, which really allows customers to make real-time choices regarding how they use our platform based on their evolving needs and use cases. They aren’t always forced into these long planning horizons up front. Ultimately, we recognize revenue only when our customers derive value from our platform. This is a really important driver of how we think about innovation.
CircleCI | www.circleci.com | San Francisco, CA