Making Hiring a CFO Priority | A Talk with Marc Linden, CFO, Sage Intacct

Marc Linden is CFO of Sage Intacct. Prior to Sage Intacct, Marc spent four years as CFO for Mirapoint, Inc., a leader in secure appliance solutions for messaging. He also served as general manager of Openwave’s messaging business unit. Marc came to Openwave from the unified messaging company Onebox, where he was CFO and was instrumental in the sale of Onebox to for $850M.

Event Venue: Modern SaaS Finance Summit, San Jose, CA

Guest: Marc Linden, CFO

Company: Sage Intacct

Headquarters: San Jose, CA


Transcript Excerpt:

[[00:17]] CFOTL: Mark, it’s great to be able to put you on the spot once more. Thank you.

[[00:20]] Linden: Thank you, Jack.

[[00:22]] CFOTL: We’ve been talking to a lot to companies about scaling today, and as they scale, of course the complexity grows, but to begin with, what are some of the biggest challenges that finance leaders face as companies scale?

[[00:37]] Linden: I think the biggest one, especially if you are on a rapid-growth curve, is hiring. That is a perennial challenge. I think it’s compounded by the fact that we’re here in the Valley in the center of competition for talent. But it is way too easy to get behind on your hiring plans, which is ultimately going to catch up with you and everything else. Beyond that, one of the things that people don’t spend enough time thinking about as they grow is how to maintain alignment across the company. What happens is that when you have a very small team, it’s very easy to communicate what you actually mean when you’re working with each other day to day.

[[01:35]] You’re typically co-located, allowing you to do real-time corrections to misconceptions, but as you scale and you start communicating your intent through others and they have their own spin on things, maybe they heard something that you didn’t quite mean. Keeping that alignment across the teams or even your own team as you scale in the organization is a huge challenge. I don’t think that we spend enough time on that, and you really need to think about how you communicate. You need to think about overcommunicating and repeating yourself, and always be open for questions. That’s one of the things that we’ve had as a rule. There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. We do new hire orientation for everybody who joins the company, and one of the things that I go out of my way to tell everybody is that if you have a question, just ask. I don’t care what it is, I don’t care if you think it’s offensive—just ask. The worst thing I’m going to tell you is that I’m not willing to answer. More often than not, I’m going to go out of my way to answer. I think that as leaders, we have to be willing to spend the time to explain things to people or we’re not going to get that alignment across the organization—and that’s where things just spin out of control.

[[02:58]] CFOTL: Do you have any advice for CFOs who think of themselves as too busy when it comes to scheduling time to properly hire the people they need?

Linden: Stop! Really simply. It is the most important thing that you can do, and you’re not going to scale unless you get the right people in the right organization and in the right position in your organization. It doesn’t mean that everybody has to be a superstar. I mean, you need superstars and you need people you can 100 percent rely on. But there’s two things that I’ve always done, and that is to make sure that when it came to key roles, we had the absolute right person, and then the second thing is to always hire your replacement. I tell my team, You can take anything off my desk as long as you’re willing to do it.

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