655: Awaiting the Return to Travel | Tom Tuchscherer, CFO, TripActions
Twenty-five to 30 years ago, senior executives seeking CFO roles did not think like Tom Tuchscherer.
Many still don’t, which is why CFO roles have increasingly come to executives like Tuchscherer, a gate crasher from the world of corporate development.
Such was the case back in 2012, when Tuchscherer entered the CFO office for the first time at Talend, a fast-growing developer of data integration software.
At the time, Tuchscherer was accustomed to having long strategy discussions with both Talend investors and board members and was even tasked with helping management to recruit “a professional” CFO.
However, when a new CFO exited the company only 12 months after being recruited, Tuchscherer agreed to serve as an interim finance leader.
“First it was 3 months, then 6 months, then 9 months, and then a year. Eventually, the board said, ‘Hey, you seem to be doing a good job with this—why don’t you just stay?,’” explains Tuchscherer, who characterizes his arrival in the CFO office as an “accident” rather than a “willful choice.”
In fact, as time passed and Talend began preparing for its IPO, Tuchscherer says his career mind-set remained untethered to the CFO role.
“Had I been in a board member’s shoes, I would have thought that this was pretty dangerous,” explains Tuchscherer, who says that during some “honest discussions” with the company’s CEO and board members, he made clear his willingness to step aside and even to help recruit a CFO with IPO experience.
“Essentially, the message that came back was: ‘We value the relationships that you built and your strategic knowledge of the company much more than the downside of your lack of experience as a public company CFO, and we believe that you can grow and learn those skills … but we will be keeping a close eye,’” recalls Tuchscherer, who notes that by this time he had learned to appease his sizable appetite for high-minded strategy insights—a source of sustenance for many corporate development executives—in order to better digest the company’s accounting and administrative functions.
Looking back, Tuchscherer recalls that his “accidental” arrival inside the CFO office in some ways allowed him to be more clear-eyed about the role of finance leadership.
Comments Tuchscherer: “It forced me to ask a lot of questions and to challenge the role and reinvent it at the same time.” –Jack Sweeney Subscribe to our Newsletter