September 03, 2012, 11:33 AM — Name: Paul Machle
Time with company: 6 years
Education: MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University
Company headquarters: San Francisco
Countries of operation: U.S., Canada, U.K., China, Hong Kong, Sweden, Malaysia
Number of employees total: about 1,000
Number of employees the CFO oversees: about 30
CFO's areas of responsibility: Finance, accounting, IT, metrics, some quality and strategy work
About the company: Freeborders provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services and products for Internet-based companies.
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I started my career at Ernst & Young in Palo Alto. I worked there as a staff auditor for four years and then decided to go back to Northwestern University to get an MBA.
After obtaining my MBA, I first joined Sybase, then the software company Kanisa Inc. I then joined the Exigen Group, a global business process solutions company, which has a combined services and outsourcing model. Working at Exigen exposed me to the services side of the business. After one year, I was offered the opportunity to join Freeborders as the CFO. I like Freeborders' unique approach to delivering IT services, quality of its investors, management team and clients. The company applies an IT services model that has been perfected by the tier 1 Indian outsourcers to the hugely talented technical labor pool of China.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
My most influential boss was Jerry Kennelly, my manager at Sybase. He taught me the basics of P&L reporting and how to report across geographic P&Ls. He also taught me about management. Jerry went on to become the CFO at Inktomi and then co-founded Riverbed.
3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?
The life cycle in today's companies is much shorter as companies are now Internet-based businesses. We have a SaaS model. In addition, the market changes very quickly. You can't have a five-year strategy. You have to monitor your strategy almost quarterly and move quickly. It's a much more compressed time cycle that doesn't fit the planning models that CFOs are used to historically.
4. What is a good day at work like for you?
A good day is when we close a nice deal. I often get involved in contract negotiations and work with our sales team on pricing initiatives and with our clients on sales contracts.
5. How would you characterize your management style?