Role of the CFO

Coworking with Rich Veldran

CFO of GoTo
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· 4 min read

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and other leaders in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. To be considered, answer a few quick questions for us here and we’ll be in touch if we want to feature you in the newsletter.

Rich Veldran is CFO of GoTo, formerly LogMeIn, a SaaS company that provides cloud-based, remote-work tools.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Give us an idea of what your company is doing right now, and things that you’re expecting or looking for, in terms of the larger economy.

As with most companies, you want to be flexible, and want to be able to just thrive in any environment. The goal is to really stick to your strategy, create value, and—regardless of the weather—be able to work through that. So as we plan through things, we look at different scenarios. We don’t want to be in a situation where you’re reactionary—where something happens and then you have to react and do something extreme, and you see companies do this all the time. You see them hire at an accelerated pace, and then all of a sudden, turn around and do a layoff. We want to avoid this kind of whipsaw behavior.

So we’ve asked what we’ve done, we’ve sat with our teams, and we’ve said, ‘Look, you know, we’re going to be transparent about what we see. We think that there’s some, some clouds on the horizon. But we’re gonna, as a team, work through this together. So we’d like you all to think about ways to do things more efficiently.’ So you’re not doing something to the team, you’re working with the team to handle any situation. That’s what we’re trying to do, so we’re very transparent.

And how do you define transparency, in terms of keeping employees up to speed?

It literally starts with just basic communication. So we have what we call all-hands sessions, town halls, and we’ll do them as a company. Each member of the executive team will sit with their direct reports and take them through the strategy for the company: ‘Here are the choices we’re making. Here are the things we’re not doing.’

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What is something about your current role or the CFO role generally, that you never thought you’d be dealing with?

I tell people: Work on your communication skills. What separates people who will ultimately make it to the C-suite versus folks who won’t, is actually not how analytical you are. It’s actually communication, being able to tell a story, being able to bring people along for the journey. You’re bringing employees along for the journey, you’re persuasively communicating to a board to ensure you can make the right investment decisions where the board may have to weigh in, and you’re bringing investors along on the journey. If you can’t do that, well, then you won’t survive in any C-suite role. So that’s what you don’t necessarily realize in the very early days, but it’s the most critical element of the job.

What is something about you either personally or professionally, that maybe people wouldn’t be able to guess about you based on your LinkedIn page?

I used to sing rap in my fraternity as part of a band. But aside from that, I would say the thing about me that you wouldn’t get—and it’s actually a really important thing—is: I think it's incredibly important to laugh and to continue to engage with people in a way that just takes some of the pressure out. If you’re bringing people along, for any kind of journey, a hard journey, they have to want to be there. And that comes through feeling as though they can laugh once in a while.

The thing I’m proudest of in my career, well, two things: One is, six people that have worked for me have become CFOs of companies. So I feel good about that group because I think it’s important to grow people and to coach them to do that. And generally my leadership teams have stayed with me a long time. You foster that through caring about people and making them want to be part of the team.—KL

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CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.