CFOs step up as companies look for strategic guidance

Note from the editor

Even though he’s been at Hormel Foods for 43 years, CFO Jim Sheehan hasn’t spent much time looking at the past. “What happened five years ago doesn’t interest me,” he says.

His forward focus helped the 130-year-old company protect its employees during the early Covid months thanks to a system he helped bring in by enabling the company to compare its data against national data to help local health officials identify hotspots.  

“These types of analytics were just so impactful for keeping our employees safe and keeping our operations going,” he says. 

Sheehan’s many years as a finance leader has helped inform his approach to the CFO seat but not all wisdom takes decades to acquire; Chitra Balasubramanian, CFO of software development platform CircleCI, has been in the seat for less than a year but her data-crunching experience helped her transition the company from subscription pricing to a usage model. 

“The subscription in the earlier model was a little bit more like shelfware,” she says. “You’re paying for it, whether you use it or not.”

By the time finance leaders get to the CFO seat, they bring wisdom to the role. Even so, the learning never stops. To help you benefit from the insights of CFOs who are wrestling with problems today, we’ve compiled a handful of pieces from CFO Dive that focus on best practices. We hope the pieces are useful, whether you’re aspiring to the CFO seat or managing through your own challenges as a finance leader.

Robert Freedman Editor

To become a finance leader, think like one, Slack CFO says

Allen Shim was promoted to CFO once he grasped, and then prioritized, what the position must care about.

• Published June 1, 2021

Data helped CircleCI CFO make switch from subscription to usage pricing

Chitra Balasubramanian’s background interpreting data patterns helped her forecast the impact a new model would have on the software company.

• Published Oct. 7, 2021

Rough GE acquisition helped Twilio CFO learn resilience

Two companies "bred to hate each other" don’t make promising merger candidates, but the deal came together and provided key lessons, Khozema Shipchandler says.

• Published Nov. 8, 2021

Ansys CFO reaches back to early lessons to tackle challenges

After helping a storied company spin off legacy businesses, Nicole Anasenes brings an operational mindset to finance transformation.

• Published Nov. 11, 2021

CFO on why Bright Machines is going public via SPAC

Given the manufacturing automation company's capex-heavy model and its ability to help today's supply chain problems, merging with a blank-check company was seen as the way to go, says Michael Keogh.

• Published Oct. 28, 2021

Capital raise helped Iterable CFO see functions needing a boost

The customer engagement company had data but not the system to give leaders everything they needed from it, said Will Johnson.

• Published Oct. 20, 2021

Best practices for the CFO

By the time finance leaders get to the CFO seat, they bring wisdom to the role. Even so, the learning never stops. To help you benefit from the insights of CFOs who are wrestling with problems today, we’ve compiled a handful of pieces from CFO Dive that focus on best practices.

included in this trendline
  • To become a finance leader, think like one, Slack CFO says
  • Data helped CircleCI CFO make switch from subscription to usage pricing
  • Rough GE acquisition helped Twilio CFO learn resilience
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.