Dec 07, 2011 17:16
LifeLock Chief Financial Officer Chris Power shares his thoughts on reigniting growth and focusing on long-term shareholder value:
What was the biggest challenge your company faced over the last 12 months and how were you able to overcome it with financial leadership? The biggest challenge we faced when I joined LifeLock almost a year ago was how to reignite the growth rate of the business. After a period of hyper-growth early in the company's life, the growth rate had begun to slow. One of the keys for us was to continue to get smarter about where we were investing, particularly with our marketing spend. Quickly eliminating what was not working, "doubling down" where we were having success and continuing to test new ideas were all critical, even if it meant questioning many long-held beliefs in the company around what made LifeLock successful in the past. The good news is that we’ve been able to increase our rate of growth by over 50% through the course of 2011.
What has made your company stand out and be successful financially? LifeLock has had the luxury of a very passionate and visionary leader backed by a strong board and a group of investors who had the conviction to endure deep losses early in the company's history. This allowed us to invest heavily in building a world-class brand and member experience. We are now able to leverage our market leading position to scale the company effectively through our transition to profitability. We would not be where we are today if the leadership team did not have the vision and courage to make a big bet on the company's future.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your position? It is all about the quality of the team - both the finance function and the company overall. In order to be able to focus on the bigger picture, game-changing activities, you need to surround yourself with bright, inquisitive, committed and talented people who have the passion to take both the function and the business to the next level. Without a world-class team, even the most talented CFO will never be successful. I am extremely fortunate to have inherited a great team at LifeLock and that has allowed me to focus more of my energy on helping drive the business forward.
How do you prepare for board meetings and what information is most important for you to present? The key for me is making sure I have a very good handle on the forecast for the business - key trends in the business, key operating metrics, the competitive landscape, market trends, etc. I think it is critical to paint a fully transparent picture for the board of where the business is performing well and where the areas of concern are. Most important for me, though, is being able to articulate what our action plans are to correct course where we have issues and to articulate how we will quickly take advantage of emerging opportunities.
What advice do you have for other CFOs? Seek another line of work! Just kidding. The real answer is to find a great spouse! I was lucky enough to meet mine in university before my career even started. The CFO role is clearly not a 9-5, Monday to Friday job anymore and your schedule is often dictated by things out of your control. Having a spouse who will be there with you through the highs, the challenges and the late nights is a key pillar of sustained long-term success. (I'm thinking this response will score me some big points at home!)
What do you do to retain your strategic vision despite the crush of day-to-day operations? It is always a challenge, in the midst of being pulled in multiple directions and fighting a steady stream of urgent, short-term issues, to keep a focus on the strategic vision. The key for me is to continue to ask the question "is this the best way to maximize long-term shareholder value"? This helps me prioritize my own time as well as the company's people and resources on activities that will truly "move the needle." At the end of the day, the whole organization needs to be focused on priorities that will profitably grow the business at a faster rate and move the share price meaningfully over the long run.
What’s your favorite book? (For business or escape) I love both playing and following a variety of different sports from kids’ events to the pro level and my favorite reading material is actually Sports Illustrated. I really enjoy the wide range of stories and the fantastic journalism and it’s a complete change of pace from my day-to-day activities. I have been a subscriber for over 25 years!
Chris Power joined LifeLock, an industry leader in identity theft protection, in January 2011 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to LifeLock, Power served as the Chief Operating Officer and CFO of NetQuote Inc., where he helped lead the successful sale of the company to private equity interests. His experience serving in the CFO role has included both public and private companies, including Salary.com, Monster Worldwide and Nortel Networks. Power brings over 20 years of financial, strategic and operational expertise, helping drive profitable expansion in high growth, high tech environments. Power has a BA degree in Commerce and Economics from University of Toronto and also received his MBA from University of Toronto.