How Two Public Company CFOs Guided Their Businesses Through 2020
Honoring some of the best finance chiefs in the game. Jack is a Senior Contributor to Forbes CFO Network. An excerpt of his recent interviews are below.
This week I am honoring six chief financial officers who made amazing contributions to their organizations’ successes in 2020. Like the rest of us, chief financial officers were challenged in 2020 as never before, and they more than rose to the occasion, helping to guide their organizations to unprecedented heights in some cases. Today’s focus is on the phenomenal CFOs from two of the most resilient companies in the world: Rachel Glaser of Etsy, and Kelly Steckelberg of Zoom Video Communications (Zoom
Rachel Glaser, CFO, Etsy
Etsy is an ecommerce site focused on vintage items and craft supplies. To say that the company enjoyed a phenomenal year is an understatement: Revenue increased by almost 70% over 2019, causing the stock to increase by 289%, making it the second best performing stock in the S&P 500. Rachel joined the company in 2017 and her understanding of Etsy’s business played a critical role in its successes. Highlights of my conversation with Rachel are below.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in 2020?
As was the case for many, the biggest challenge was overcoming the hurdles that came as a result of the pandemic at the start of this year. For us, it wasn’t simply a matter of adjusting to a remote workplace. As a company, we had to address the sudden surge in demand for masks and other essential items. This would be a dramatic adjustment under regular circumstances, so doing this as a remote team meant ensuring that employee health, engagement, and productivity levels remained high and a top priority.
Outside of these internal shifts, a big challenge I faced in my role, specifically, was figuring out the best way to effectively communicate these changes and the growth we were experiencing to the rest of the market.
Kelly Steckelberg, CFO, Zoom
It is difficult to identify a company that had a better 2020 than Zoom. While the company has long had a great product and loyal following, it became a global phenomenon due to quarantine measures adopted to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly joined Zoom in 2017 after being the CEO of Zoosk. Her previous experience as CEO undoubtedly prepared her for Zoom’s hyper-growth of 2020. Highlights from my conversation with Kelly are below.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in 2020?
Zoom is an agile organization that is constantly innovating to adapt to change. Our user base has dramatically expanded and our response to that growth became our sole focus. At the beginning of 2020, Zoom was focused on the enterprise market and higher-education. The pandemic caused an accelerated shift, which took Zoom from an enterprise platform to a central part of daily life, with people worldwide transitioning to remote work, distance learning, and remote gatherings.
As we grew, we listened closely to our customers and enhanced the platform with numerous new security and privacy features—including end-to-end encryption for free and paid users. We also introduced Zoom for Home for remote work/working from home and hybrid work, announced OnZoom—a one-stop solution for small businesses to host free, paid, and fundraising events on Zoom— and added dozens of new Meetings and Zoom Rooms features. As a CFO and Finance team, we were constantly evaluating trade-offs in spend around long-term opportunities and short-term needs. We always want to be sure we are investing in the right areas but not getting ahead of ourselves during such an unprecedented time.
About Jack McCullough
Jack McCullough is a recognized thought leader in the field of financial leadership, with a career that has included CFO positions at 26 companies. He founded the CFO Leadership Council, a global organization dedicated to empowering senior financial executives through innovative professional development programs and peer networking. His other accomplishments include chairing the MIT Sloan CFO Summit, and creating the vision behind CFO Week, a one-of-a-kind learning and networking experience jointly executed by the CFO Leadership Council and MIT Sloan. He is a contributor to Forbes.com, where he writes for the CFO Network on challenges and opportunities facing financial leaders. He is an entertaining and insightful public speaker, and has spoken to thousands of CFOs, and is frequently contacted by members of the media who appreciate his candor, insight and wit.
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