Career Growth

Forbes: What Startup CEOs Want In A CFO

Written By Ritika Trikha | April 2, 2016

Last week, I spoke with Mike Asher, CFO of HackerRank about the challenges he faces as CFO of a startup. In many ways, startups arechanging the rules of business, and there’s been a lot writtenrecently about when a startup should hire a CFO. After speaking with Mike, I also connected with HackerRank’s CEO Vivek Ravisankar to learn more about how he came to this decision, and his expectations for the CFO and finance department.
 This interview has been edited and condensed.
 Jeff Thomson: Many startups have a difficult time determining when to hire a CFO. As cofounder and CEO of HackerRank, when and why did you decide it was time to add a CFO to your leadership team?
Vivek Ravisankar: In Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses, you can increase the odds of success by ensuring you have strong unit economics in the business to scale. We’ve been gaining traction and building a solid market presence by expanding from niche technology companies to more mainstream industries, like finance, healthcare and travel. We have a huge opportunity in front of us and great momentum. A CFO like Mike Asher, who comes with significant experience in strategizing for long-term sustainability, can really help us scale.

Thomson: According to a recent survey, CEOs listed global experience, experience with transformation and innovation, and length of tenure as the top three business attributes they wanted in a CFO. How does this compare to the characteristics HackerRank had in mind when searching for a CFO?
Ravisankar: Global experience is certainly important, but–for startups at our stage–even more important than global experience is a proven track record of strategic growth. Mike is one of the most strategic people I’ve ever met, and that’s crucial not only for global expansion but also transformation and innovation.
Thomson: What are your expectations of the finance department, and how do you work with CFO Mike Asher to drive business growth?
Ravisankar: The expectation is to be a good balance to my role as we grow the company. Controlled aggression is a very powerful strategy, especially in our market where the opportunity is huge. We’ll work together to ensure the organization is achieving ambitious metrics, and relentlessly prioritize the right areas of investment to help us grow as fast as we can.

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Jeff Thomson.  


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