Generally, when legendary CEO Roger Enrico wasn’t happy, just about every PepsiCo executive from junior grades on up knew about it. So it was that when David Barnes was told he would be presenting to Enrico on a subject known to inflame the CEO’s ire, he knew that his presentation—one way or the other—would be career-defining.
“Enrico was known to be very impatient with those who would present a bunch of facts but offer no insights,” remembers Barnes, whose tryst with destiny surfaced via the guidance of none other than Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s future CEO, who Barnes tells us was his “great mentor and sponsor” during his Pepsi years.Read More
“Pepsi had hired a big consulting firm and they had dumped a lot of data on us, but they couldn’t find any insights, so Indra asked me to work with the consultants and actually get the insights out of the data,” continues Barnes, who had been hired in the mid-1990s to be part of a strategy group within PepsiCo that had been tasked with integrating strategy and finance across the company.
As it turned out, Barnes’s presentation succeeded in delivering a number of new insights related to the profitability (or lack thereof) of PepsiCo’s restaurant business in China.
“We had a small, money-losing business in China at a time when the Asian economies at large were experiencing deep recessions, so the questions being asked were ‘Do we give up?’ and ‘Do we double down?,’” recalls Barnes, who would soon open a new career chapter in China—an indication that perhaps his presentation had gone well.
“They wanted a known quantity in China—someone with the company’s corporate interests at heart—so I became responsible for finance as well as our development activities around new stores for KFC and Pizza Hut,” explains Barnes, who would subsequently use data to better expose an opportunity for new stores inside China’s smaller tertiary markets rather than in big cities.
“We figured out that there was a better way to do capital resource allocation just for these markets,” comments Barnes, who recalls the business leader who ultimately made the call when it came to opening new stores as saying: “Let’s get at it!” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Trimble … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Barnes: We are an industrial technology company with all of our work oriented around transforming the way the world works. And that’s not just a slogan for us—it actually does describe what we do, as we apply software and hardware technology to dramatically transform the way in which work is done in our core end markets. The biggest of these are construction, agriculture, and transportation. We use hardware and software technology to make the workflows in these businesses more efficient, safer, more environmentally friendly, and better for all key stakeholders.Read More
We are literally transforming the way buildings are built, the way roads are constructed, the way farms are farmed, and the way transportation happens all around the world.
I joined Trimble when the prior CFO was elevated to the CEO role. As a 45-year-old company now on only our third CEO, we are a company with incredibly stable leadership. I had some big shoes to fill. My first job was not to mess anything up because the company was very strong. We had plans, but as with countless other firms, a lot of the ones that we had going into 2020 got messed up by this thing called COVID. As far as I can tell, I’ve never met a CFO who can convincingly tell me that he or she had a pandemic on top of their list of enterprise risks. So, shortly after I joined Trimble, we were focused as a leadership team on ensuring that we were ready and able to withstand whatever this pandemic did to our company, while at the same time still making us stronger for the future. This was an all-consuming exercise for the first 9 months of my time at Trimble.
“Always keep learning, and demonstrate an understanding of business drivers in the broadest sense, beyond what is obvious from the financials.” –David Barnes, CFO, Trimble
Trimble | www.trimble.com | Sunnyvale, CA