Looking back on his first CFO role, Steve Vintz recalls waking up one morning and thinking that he might not have a job.
The night before, Vintz had told his company’s CEO that he was having second thoughts about a deck of slides highlighting the virtues of a proposed acquisition.
“It just hit me: This is a deal we can’t do—this is not our deal,” recalls Vintz, recollecting the moment of insight that he experienced and the subsequent butterflies set free.Read More
The company’s board was expecting to meet later in the week, and the “board deck” was the anticipated precursor to a presentation that Vintz and his CEO were preparing to give about a promising acquisition target.
Vintz continues: “Good news travels fast and bad news travels faster, but I caught this a little late in the process. I wish I had felt this way earlier on, but it was a reality. CFOs must have conviction, and conviction is all about doing the right thing.”
The courage of Vintz’s convictions were quickly put to the test when he told his CEO about his reservations concerning the deal—an acquisition that had already received strong support and enthusiasm from the firm’s management team.
“The conversation did not go well. The next day, I called our CMO and asked if I should even come back into the office,” comments Vintz, who adds that the CMO encouraged him to return and speak further with the CEO, who appeared to have begun to digest some of what he had heard the night before.
Days later, when the company’s board members gathered, the CFO was once more in the hot seat.
Says Vintz: “The board wanted to understand why we were having second thoughts, and as we talked, it became clear to the CEO and management team why that was not the time to do this deal.”
In the end, the company’s board ultimately praised the management team for bringing forth its concerns, and a few of its members even repeated the business maxim about how sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don’t do.
Reflecting on his moment of insight, Vintz observes: “I could have very easily sent out the board deck and told myself, ‘I don’t want to look bad, and maybe it will be okay’—but as CFO, you have to listen to your inner self.” –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Tenable … what does this company do and what are its offerings today?
Vintz: Tenable helps companies to understand and reduce their cyber risk. At a basic level, we answer the customer question, “How secure are we?” Companies today have an attack surface that looks very different than it did a few years ago. They have embraced digital transformation and there are more assets and devices coming online, and so it’s no longer just about securing servers, desktops, and laptops. The IT environment is much more complex. It includes Web applications, containers, and operational technology, and it’s really hard for companies to understand their true exposure to determine how to best manage risk.Read More
At Tenable, we discover all of a firm’s assets and connected devices and assess them for vulnerabilities across a wide range of the attack surface. We help companies to manage and prioritize their risk and to take remediation steps to reduce it.
One of my main priorities right is digital transformation—making sure that we’re looking ahead of the power curve and are prepared for continued growth and scale. This will necessitate investments in terms of process and systems. Another is to continue to get balanced growth with profitability. We’re not a grow-at-all-cost kind of company. Market dynamics can change on a moment’s notice, and it’s important to make sure that you’re able to run the business in a very agile way so that you can invest more or invest less, depending on the circumstances.
This may sound a little strange for a CFO to say, but my last priority is that I want to travel a little more. There are a lot of things that we can do remotely—and we’re in a work-from-home world—but meeting face-to-face with some of our key stakeholders, getting in front of employees in different offices around the world, attending investor conferences to be face-to-face with investors, and meeting customers are things that I really want to do. I think that you walk away a little smarter when you do do this, and it’s something that I’m going to set out to do this year.
“Start with the end in mind. At the onset, think about how the company will create returns for shareholders: aggressive growth, balanced growth, or margin expansion. This will determine how you set goals and deploy capital for years to come.” –Steve Vintz, CFO, Tenable
Tenable | www.tenable.com | Columbia, MD