Back in the year 2000, as Arthur Andersen saw a stream of young accountants exit the firm to join dotcom start-ups, Kevin Rubin’s workload continued to escalate as the public accounting firm felt the pinch of a constricting workforce.
Nevertheless, Rubin’s career ambitions remained in lockstep with the public accounting house. In fact, even today he believes that he may have stuck with Andersen had the accounting house not collapsed in the aftermath of the Enron scandal.
Andersen’s fate, the implosion of the dotcom bubble, and the September 11 terror attacks each in its own way contributed to the future trajectory of Rubin’s career—a convergence of events and circumstances that Rubin still finds difficult to untangle.Read More
“Somehow, the circumstances opened up an incredible opportunity for me,” recalls Rubin, when we ask about MRV Communications, a client company of his that ultimately appointed him vice president of finance before 3 years later naming him CFO.
Meanwhile, months prior to Rubin’s arrival at MRV, the company had announced that its CFO, Edmund Glazer, had been on the Boston-to–Los Angeles flight that had crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11.
“It was more coincidental than anything else,” remarks Rubin, who refers to the late Glazer as a friend and the CFO who succeeded Glazer as one of his great mentors.
Still, the repercussions of the early 2000s were not yet behind Rubin. Shortly after his arrival, MRV’s market cap—once more than $6 billion—fell to roughly $60 million in a plunge that would together task Rubin and his new CFO mentor with finding a way forward.
Says Rubin: “We had to make some pretty dramatic changes pretty quickly to be able to re-orientate the business. In the end, we emerged as an operating company with three distinct business units.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Alteryx … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Rubin: At the highest level, Alteryx makes it super easy for anyone in an organization to use data, discover insights, and make better decisions. We have this terminology that describes us as providing “analytics for all” or the “democratization of analytics.”
Just think about any organization. You have people throughout it—let’s call them unsung heroes—who have operational roles. They’re challenged day in and day out to make decisions based on analyzing the information available to them, but they don’t have the tools and the ability to do this.Read More
They certainly don’t have the ability to operate at a higher skill level than their training. We have this saying: “You can’t teach a data scientist how to be an accountant, but—through Alteryx—you can certainly enable an accounting person to behave and operate like a data scientist.”
At the end of the day, we’re an analytic platform. We focus on business analysts sitting in the line of business and really giving them an opportunity to upskill. If you talk to some of the largest companies in the world today, you find that the biggest challenge that they have is that they can’t find enough skilled data workers. There aren’t enough data scientists in the world to be able to solve all of the problems that need to be addressed, and the ones who are already here are engaged in solving the world’s most difficult ones. If you’re trying to solve basic business challenges, whether in good markets or bad markets, there are just not enough people out there who can work with the data fast enough to make decisions.
Our whole goal is to be able to upskill a workforce. We really want to enable everybody in an organization to be comfortable when working with data and be able to use it to make better business decisions and drive real outcomes for their business.
Don’t be afraid to push into areas of unknown and stretch yourself. Challenging yourself breeds success and you learn the most in the most challenging experiences. Finally, continue to surround yourself with the best talent and don’t be threatened by smart people – they will make you better. – Kevin Rubin, CFO, Alteryx
Alteryx | www.alteryx.com | Irvine, CA