June 18, 2012, 10:24 AM — Name: Dan Curtis
Time with company: 8 months
Education: Bachelor of Science in business with an accounting focus from Boston College
Company headquarters: Boston; Nuremberg, Germany
Countries of operation: U.S., Germany
Number of employees total: 10
CFO's areas of responsibility: Finance, HR, IT
About the company: ownCloud is the company behind the ownCloud open-source project for data and file syncing, sharing and viewing. OwnCloud enables businesses to host their own, on premises or remote, cloud storage while maintaining regulatory and compliance needs.
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I started at what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers in Boston in the late '70s and was there for not quite four years. I did a stint with a Fortune 500 company after leaving PWC but very soon thereafter gravitated to smaller companies. I was drawn to smaller companies principally because you could have a meaningful impact on a regular basis because the expertise that you brought was not available in-house.
I've worked for a number of small companies that were venture-backed. There's a certain level of excitement that permeates these companies because there's a collective belief that doesn't exist at larger companies that the work you do will establish meaningful value, and the energy level is infectious.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
I'd have to say the one person who has been most influential on me was not actually a boss, but an uncle of mine named Ed Dailey who was also a public company CFO for a company called Warnaco in Connecticut that has since been sold. He went on to a public company called Crystal Brands, which was based in Manhattan.
Even to this day, he has been for me the most influential person in business and he was also the most ethical person I've ever known. He took his ethics very seriously when he was a public company CFO and in the way he conducted his daily life. What I took away from him was that if you set the right example and treat people fairly but also hold them accountable, it will often produce good results.
3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?
Big companies have their own sets of issues, but for the small company environment that I operate in, probably the biggest finance challenge is to come up with constructive, creative ways to extend cash and manage milestones. That's particularly important when the venture markets are tight.