When Kate Bueker first left the world of investment banking for a corporate finance role, she was ready to savor the fabled congruity that a business finance career often offers.
“I felt that what would be more interesting and motivating to me would be more consistent,” recalls Bueker, who shortly after joining Akamai Technologies in 2007 became the first business finance executive to become “embedded” with the technology company’s network team.Read More
“At the time, Akamai’s cost of goods sold—which was mostly their network costs—was growing faster than revenue, so the CFO at the time asked me if I could figure out what was going on, or ‘what was driving this,’” explains Bueker, who reports that she and her team quickly zeroed-in on the company’s spiraling co-location costs, the fees being paid to operate the physical facilities that housed the company’s network servers.
“We worked together on an operational change that would basically rebuild the existing co-location facilities and free up capacity from within the space that we were already paying for—and it ended up that we did not add another dollar of co-location fees for the 2 years following this change,” comments Bueker, whose nine different future business partnering activities at Akamai ended up involving both the product engineering and go-to-market sides of the business.
“What makes these different parts of the organization successful is a bit different—and the personalities and perspectives are a bit different—so the holistic view was something that became increasingly valuable to me,” remarks Bueker, who today assumes a similar vantage point when reflecting back on the personalities and perspectives that once populated her investment banking days.
“As with many roles, over time mine transitioned to one that was determined more by relationship management and sales,” observes Bueker, who notes that she came to realize that while she excelled at financial analysis and the negotiation aspects of being an investment banker, she was not always “a comfortable salesperson.”
Says Bueker: “I think that the irony of the whole thing is that as you get more senior in your career, your success is more about partnering across the business and influencing people outside of your core area, which—when you step back and think about it—is really sales after all.” –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about HubSpot … what is it that sets apart its offerings?
Bueker: The best way to answer this is to maybe take a step back and ask, “What is HubSpot?” HubSpot is a CRM platform for small and midsize companies. What this means is that we offer a core set of software across marketing, sales, and customer service that helps small and midsize companies to build and run their front office. If you think about firms of this size, you realize that one of the things that they are faced with—more so than large enterprises—is a stretch of their resources, right? They want software that is really easy to use, really easy to get started with, and really easy to buy—and that’s what HubSpot is.Read More
Our customers typically have two choices. One, they can go out and buy a bunch of small-point solutions to solve very specific business needs—but they have to put it all together and try to run their business. The other thing that they typically can do is go out and buy a big, hunky, chunky software that is meant for the enterprise and try to implement it in their business—but this typically takes a long time, is very expensive, and is hard to get started on. We have built our platform organically, which provides a nice advantage for us in the seamless way that the interface feels to our end customers, as all of the data sits on the same CRM platform. This provides the real benefits of having an all-on-one platform, but at the same time, it is simple and easy to use.
During the pandemic, we went from half a billion dollars to a billion and a half really fast. This pace of growth really strains the organization in general. It certainly also stresses a lot of the support functions, and finance is clearly one of these. For me, the priority over the next 12 months will be about continuing to mature the finance function and to think about how we can put in place processes and systems that will first set us up to solve the near-term pain and then prepare us for the next phase of scaling—from here to $5 billion.
“My advice is to not underestimate the importance of communication as a CFO – both with the leadership team and company as a whole. Especially in moments of turbulent economic periods, transparency and the ability to deliver timely, empathetic communication at all levels is essential. You can build a career in finance through productive, behind the scenes collaboration, but effective finance leadership at the senior levels requires a more “front of stage” approach. Seek out opportunities to build public speaking and presentation skills early in your career as they are an important piece of effective communication.” -Kate Bueker, CFO, HubSpot
HubSpot | www.hubspot.com | Cambridge, MA