Boston-based cybersecurity ratings company BitSight named veteran finance leader Tim Adams its CFO on Tuesday.
Adams, who has worked in financial leadership for over 30 years, joined BitSight from his latest role as CFO at biotechnology company ObsEva, which he guided through its 2017 IPO. Before that, he served as CFO at Demandware, which Salesforce bought for more than $3 billion in 2016, and as CFO at Athenahealth.
"In these times more than ever, cybersecurity is business-critical for every organization, across every industry," Adams said in a statement. "I am eager to lend my expertise scaling fiscal operations across public and private organizations to help BitSight grow."
"What I’ve seen, in my experience as CFO of mostly public companies, is there seems to be a void in truly understanding the cybersecurity environment your company has and what kind of risk is out there," he told CFO Dive Wednesday. "We know from what we read, that there's many hackers out there, getting better at what they do, holding corporations ransom for financial payments, and they’re having too much success being the bad guy in the marketplace."
Adams says it's critically important all business enterprises have an understanding of their digital footprint in this way. "You also must understand the risk that the bad actors are out there and doing bad things to good companies."
Nine-year-old BitSight, according to Forrester, is the market leader on cybersecurity ratings, Adams said. His work as CFO will be in pursuit of helping companies strengthen their security and data safety. But, he said, the pandemic has changed what he expects his role to be.
"We are seeing a little bit of a headwind in our business, because many companies are having electronic difficulties with the pandemic," he said. "They're tightening their budget and delaying buying decisions. But we also see a very exciting opportunity now that most of us are all working from home. That creates an opportunity for BitSight to really help companies understand their additional risks and exposure they’re facing."
The reliance on remote work introduces new vulnerabilities and security risks, Adams said, which makes his work at BitSight all the more important.
"Being remote has created a bigger challenge, I think, for any leader, especially me, in my role managing a team of people I’ve only met via Zoom," he said. "It's harder to collaborate with your team, because you can't just walk down the hall and have a conversation with them, or pull people together and have an impromptu meeting. It's a little more cumbersome to be productive."
Getting a handle on BitSight's financials has also posed a challenge to Adams. Over Zoom, he has spoken with other company executives to get a better sense of the business and economic model, their budgets, and their current forecasts. "For all of these topics," he said. "You have to schedule a Zoom with the appropriate folks."
As a five-time CFO, Adams' word of advice to CFOs weathering the current storm — stay connected with your team.
"The communication piece is most important now," he said. "Folks are feeling isolated and alone because they're not seeing you. Create those environments where you’re accessible, as a leader, and you're bringing folks together to have conversations. That's the most critical we can do right now."
Additionally, he said, the CFO is "really the keeper of the economic business model for the company." Adams says it’s critically important CFOs have a keen understanding of the products and services their company delivers to the market, the value they add to customers, and that the customers' voice is heard.
"And you have to create the economic model for your company," he added. "At the end of the day, we have employees, shareholders, and customers, and we have to be able to deliver positive results and services to all three groups of those constituents."
"If you keep the business model front and center, it becomes your true north star as CFO," Adams said.