Digital Assurance and Business Transparency

July 27, 2023 Theresa Rex

digital assurance team in meeting about business transparency

CFOs are key drivers in business growth, leading innovation, and making strategic decisions. With the digital age comes a wave of data, and it's up to CFOs to sort through and translate it into insights for their companies. But even as data and tech take the front seat, CFOs can't overlook the human side of their role. They need to manage emotions, build strong relationships, and encourage fresh thinking. To shed more light on the topic of digital assurance and transparency today, we have Mark McCaffrey, CFO at GoDaddy.

Mark has more than two decades of experience at PwC, where he held diverse roles within the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications sectors. Throughout his career, Mark has been dedicated to serving clients primarily in the technology and media sectors, with a particular emphasis on helping organizations enhance their digital capabilities. Mark also holds the prestigious position of President Of The Board Of Directors at Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation.

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Welcome back to CFO Weekly, where we're talking with financial leaders about how to build efficiency in their teams, create time for strategy, and ultimately get results with your host, Megan Weis. Let's jump right in.

Megan: 00:00: 38: Today my guest is Mark McCaffrey, CFO for GoDaddy. Before joining GoDaddy, Mark spent over 20 years holding various roles at PwC in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) sector. Mark most recently was a US TMT sector leader, guiding an experienced team of consultants working across clients in the TMT industries. As GoDaddy's Chief Financial Officer, Mark is responsible for the company's accounting, finance, financial planning and analysis, tax, treasury, procurement, investor relations, and global real estate departments. Mark also served as the Global Software Industry Leader for the firm, including the global engagement partner on several of PwC's largest multinational software and services clients. Mark's career has centered on serving clients in the Technology and media industries, particularly on organizations building their digital capabilities. As industries converge, digital innovation has been a hallmark of his work and his client's success. A graduate of Pace University, Mark was a member of the board at the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose through 2017 and is currently a president of the board, of Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation. GoDaddy helps millions of entrepreneurs globally start to grow and scale their businesses. People come to GoDaddy to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers, sell their products and services, and accept payments online and in person. GoDaddy's easy-to-use tools help micro-business owners manage everything in one place. And its expert guides are available to provide assistance 24/7. To learn more about the company, visit Mark, thank you very much for joining me on today's episode of CFO Weekly.

Mark - 00:02:21: Thanks, and great to be here, Megan. Thank you for having me. Very excited to talk to you and talk about leadership.

Megan - 00:02:27: Yeah, today our discussion is centered around two topics, digital assurance and transparency, as well as making finance part of the business's operating fabric. And I'm looking forward to learning from you, so let's jump right in.

Mark - 00:02:39: Yeah, absolutely.

Megan - 00:02:40: First, and as always, let's start with you, and can you tell us about your journey and how it is that you got to where you are today?

Mark - 00:02:48: Thanks, Megan, and I could probably spend the whole time talking about my journey, but I'll keep it to the high points here. I live in the Bay Area now in Silicon Valley, and I've been here for about 25-plus years. Let's just go with that. When I was actually born in the South Bronx and grew up in New Jersey, started my career there, went to school there, and eventually joined a firm many people may have heard of, PricewaterhouseCoopers, transferred out with them to Silicon Valley in 1995. And while that was an important mark in my career, it was right before the tech boom and right before, you know, I would say the internet bubble and what would become the Technology industry within Silicon Valley. Semiconductors were there, but things like software and the internet were just being thought about when I got there. would really propel me to learn so much about technology, so much about finance, and work with some unbelievably great teams via IPOs, via just innovation. PricewaterhouseCoopers became the Technology, Entertainment Media, and Telecommunications Leader. Then I got this great opportunity at GoDaddy and I met a CEO named Aman Bhutani. I knew at that moment that I was going to work with him and take the GoDaddy journey to its next level. That's where we are today. Now, a couple of things. I am a Bay Area sports fan. I didn't leave a lot of my New York sports teams behind, but I do still root for the New York Yankees. Don't anybody hold that against me? I would say the only other, I live the modern-day Brady bunch right now. My wife was a single mom raising two boys, and I was a single dad raising two girls. We combined that team, probably the best merger I ever had in my life. Hopefully, I give it to you in a nutshell, but I am so excited to be here and talk about these topics and let's get it going.

Megan - 00:04:37: All right, sounds good. And thank you for sharing that. So can you start by giving us a brief overview of your roles and responsibilities at GoDaddy?

Mark - 00:04:46: Yeah, absolutely. Well, at the top level, Chief Financial Officer, and I work with the CEO, like I mentioned. But I am responsible for what we call finance, treasury, investor relations, facilities, and finance operations. We also have a Data analytics and transformation team that reports to me. And I would say the most important thing and the most fun I have is I work with a great leadership team within GoDaddy that we pride ourselves on solving complex problems. We pride ourselves on what we do for our customers. And our customers are all entrepreneurs. And our customers are all about that micro business and just helping them do better and giving them tools. I love being a part of that. I love being involved in that every single day.

Megan - 00:05:30: So how long have you been with GoDaddy?

Mark - 00:05:32: So two years, almost to the mark. I think I just crossed my two-year anniversary. I think I joined at the beginning of June and a couple of years ago. Interesting time to make a switch. I think when I joined, we were thinking we were coming out of a pandemic at that point, then we're really coming out of a pandemic. It was kind of going back and forth for a while. So definitely an interesting time to switch leadership teams and embrace a new model. And I learned so much. I always kid around and I say, hey, the next pandemic, I want them to know exactly what to do. We did not have a playbook for a lot of this. And I think I've learned a lot going through this process about how to engage with teams and how to really get to the there with a lot of these teams to make sure you're delivering outcomes.

Megan - 00:06:17: So when you started, was it remote? Was everybody remote at that point?

Mark - 00:06:21: It was remote. And we're a, I would say, we're diverse in many respects as a company, but we're also diverse in geographic location. Our headquarters are in Arizona. That's where GoDaddy, I would say, was born, right? And we have an office in Kirkland where my CEO and a lot of the other executives sit. We have an office in Santa Clara where a couple of us sit, and that's the office I'm mostly at. And obviously, we have a big employee base in Arizona and we're spread out throughout the world, but we were required to be remote at that time and traveling wasn't all certain. So it took me a while to meet a lot of people within my team, within the company itself. It took me a lot longer than I thought I would. Matter of fact, while the CEO, Aman, and I spent a lot of time on video at first, it took a few months before we actually met face-to-face in person in Kirkland. Even then after we did that, there was a relapse and we had to go back to virtual for a bit. So it definitely turned into learning how to be agile as a leadership team to know what you could and couldn't do and have that backup plan. A great story I'll give you, Megan, is I think my first year in, we were doing an investor day. And up until a few months before, we just assumed we would be okay. And we could do it live. We'd go up, we'd all tape together. And then as we were getting closer to the process, we realized it wasn't going to work again. And we had to pull it all back to virtual and make that pivot. Was it as hard as we thought, because in the back of our minds at that time, we had learned that, hey, we got to be ready to have a plan B and execute that plan B and not hesitate, right? And I think that became a lot of our operating model that we learned is that you got to be agile. You got to be able to read what's going on and then make changes on the fly and be comfortable with it.

Megan - 00:08:09: And how did you ingrain yourself in the business and start developing relationships? Because I imagine that's really key in the first year of a CFO's existence with a company.

Mark - 00:08:22: Yeah, it was good, you know, and listen, I'll call it. I was being the first time being a CFO. You know, I had been a leader in a consulting firm. I had known and worked with many great CFOs, but this was the first time I was sitting in a chair. And so there was an added complexity of me learning the role and knowing what I was good at, but knowing I had some things I had to make sure I embraced. And then I'm a people person. I am a, anybody who knows me, my leadership style is very people-centered. I'm all about the team and engaging the team and being transparent with the team, right? And understanding that leadership is not, just a title, it's an emotional state, right? You have to be able to connect with everyone around you. You have to be able to inspire them. And doing that from fresh with a new group of people was hard. It was hard to get to know people. It was hard to get their emotional temperature. It was hard to understand what the dynamics were. You always want to have depth perception, I call it as a leader, and know, you know, what's an imminent threat versus something you can push off. But when you're first starting and going through the transition, it's hard to make that judgment, right? And it's hard to know exactly where you stand in the decision-making process. And I'm all about the decision-making process and being able to use data and knowledge and people's input to make good decisions. You know, I always say, decision-making is not about just knowledge. You have to have emotional proficiency and you have to trust the people around you. You have to come to good decisions based on all that data and all how confident people are and what you think are the possibilities and the range of outcomes. And trying to define those parameters in this environment, took a real lot of attention on my part and took a real drawing into the experiences. I had over 20 plus years of solving problems and putting them into play in this environment and not being afraid to be vulnerable, being humbled by some situations at times, and understanding that there were going to be some hit-and-miss items. And I would say two years in, I couldn't be happier at the outcomes that we've driven as a team, as a leadership team, as my team. But I would say that was definitely new ground for me. You know, even the things like Investor Day that I talked about, or even managing through this with a team and building that trust and being transparent with them, it was an interesting time, but I would say, learning so much of seeing it be successful now gives me so much more confidence in that ability to lead through these types of environments.

Megan - 00:10:58: And before we switch gears to talk about digital assurance and transparency, I'm just curious, as a CFO, what weight do you put on data versus experience and gut feel?

Mark - 00:11:09: Oh, you got to balance, right? And I'm big into data. I believe in the importance of looking at data, the importance of defining what data is relevant to the situation you're in, making sure the data is accurate and complete, and then using that data as a board. But good decision-making, as I said previously, also includes emotional proficiency, right? And balancing the two of them becomes extremely important. Every good team knows how to balance those two. If you depend too much on data, then you're going to lock out the emotional end of decision-making. If you depend too much on emotion, then you're going to lock out what the data is saying. You have to have that balance. And to me, being a leader, which I always say is the title, it's an emotional state, is about balancing those two within the team and being able to come to that better decision-making based on one, the relevant data you're looking at. And there is a meeting here that we don't go into where there's data being shared that I am not trying to understand where that data is coming from. Is it complete? Is it accurate? Are the biases in there? But then also taking the emotional end of it is, are we biased in our views? Are we looking for an answer? Is one person trying to push their answer over another answer because it was their answer? And that's the emotional end of the balance. You need to make sure that you are considering all aspects of it. And when that works, when you hit that with a team, you're really hitting the stride. It doesn't mean you're perfect, which I always say is why you need the feedback loop. But when you get into that good decision-making process and you're addressing those complex problems and you have that feedback loop and it's balanced in the way you look at it, then you have that ability to really get and iterate and get to the right answers better. And teams operate a lot better. And that's some of what we've learned here at GoDaddy and what we've been applying and how we've moved forward in this environment, which has been tremendous. And I would leave it at it is one of the things that in this, I would say, hybrid remote environment versus do we bring people back? Do we stay remote? Do we have a hybrid that comes into play? One of the things I worry about is remote is here to stay. There'll be some balance around it. But are we going back to more of a, I would say, a tactical type of leadership style because we are in this environment versus what I would say a teaming environment, which is more balanced and get better decision-making? This new environment causes us to have a shift backward away from that teaming environment, more of that tactical environment. That's something I'm just spending a lot of time trying to make sure we understand the dynamics of how much we should come back to the office. Should we come back to the office? What works for me? What doesn't work remotely? And how do we balance all of that?

Megan - 00:13:59: So switching gears, let's talk about digital assurance and transparency. First of all, what is it? What does it mean? And why is it important to a CFO?

Mark - 00:14:08: Yes, we're in a digital age, right? You can't go anywhere without hearing about things like AI, Machine Learning, and everything out there, and being able to understand how to look at data analytics and trends, coming back to what I call the quality of the data you're looking at to make those decisions becomes the most relevant part of the job we do today. And that relevancy in that job allows us to make, coming back to good decision-making, allows us to look at what problems are we trying to solve and what data supports that. And are we looking at metrics that are appropriate versus metrics that are just designed to show, I would say, random progress in an area? One of the things we always talk about is laddering metrics, making sure a metric supports a metric, supports an outcome. And I'll point out that in this day of assurance and transparency is being able to define the outcome where the desired outcome you're going for and build back from the top down. And then also do it from the bottom up to make sure both of them match is an important part of what we do today around, hey, looking at the digital world we live in, the amount of data that is flowing. And our ability to really handle the amounts of data that are coming in and shift through what is relevant to the problem we're trying to solve, trying to define the outcome we're looking for, trying to define transparently the actions that we need to take to get there as a team, and being transparent about what's working and what's not working to feed that feedback loop, it really allows finance to be a great business partner. And that's one thing as a finance team we continue to try to do, is we try to partner with the business to make sure they are getting the relevant digital assurance data that is coming out to make those decisions, making sure we're helping them review what data they should be looking at, the quality and the completeness of that data, and at the same time being transparent in how you measure it. I always use a story, how many dashboards did someone put up in a given meeting and everything's green? It's probably one of my first warning signs, nothing can ever be green, not everything, we can't be hitting everything 100%, and we're probably not solving the problem that we thought we would be. And that transparency in working through the team to be able to do that, that framework helps that better decision-making and I come back to it. It all brings itself together into one, can you be a transparent leader, can you balance the emotional and the logical state, can you define the call to action, can you inspire actions with purpose, and can you create that feedback loop, and then can you transparently apply what you're seeing out there to solve the problem versus just being okay with whatever outcome it could be.

Megan - 00:17:03: And you mentioned that continuous feedback loop, but what other ways do you monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of digital assurance and transparency?

Mark - 00:17:12: Yeah, so this comes down to understanding the metrics you're working for. And so many times I see a disconnect between what I would say is what everybody thinks the outcome we're driving for is versus what metrics are we measuring show progress towards there. And then are we really measuring those metrics in a manner that they're defined to create and engulf the entire data set? Or are we taking, I would say, a subset of biased data that is supporting a conclusion whether it's right or wrong? I would say the thing we do extremely well at GoDaddy is we live in a world of experimentation. And experimentation means that we never do anything to just jump in blind. We figure out the problem and the outcome we're desiring for. We figure out the test set and the population that should be tested under it. We look at the results critically. We evaluate it based on what the steady state is. Do we see improvements? Do we see us moving toward where we want to go, that desired outcome? And then if we don't see that metric working, we take it right back to the beginning of the feedback loop, right? Where we say, okay, what did we learn? Is the test a failure altogether? Did we use the wrong population to test it out? Did we define the algorithm wrong? Do we have to iterate a little bit here or there to make the test more effective to see the outcome? Or do we just have to call it a failure and move on? And quick to fail is a theory too, right? You don't want to spend time on a failing thesis because it's wasting your time from getting on to things that you could be successful at. So all those come in, but this is where the concept of transparency keeps coming back. You have to look at that and be able to judge it and be able to come to that conclusion. And you have to do it together because you've all defined the metrics together and you've all defined the parameters. I call them navigational buoys for the test. Here are the navigational buoys we will test and operate under. We can't go outside those parameters. And just be honest with what is good, what is bad, what is a failure, and what is something that we just need to continue to iterate on.

Megan - 00:19:21: And I'm curious, how do you foster an environment of experimentation? How do you let people know that it's okay to fail and that they're not going to lose their jobs or bad things aren't going to happen? How do you make that okay?

Mark - 00:19:35: Yeah, it's a culture and that is something on a leadership basis that you just have to continue to drive. Failure is good. Failure is how we iterate. Failure is how we get better. We use a term a lot called faulty conflict as well, which is it's okay to have disagreements and sort through those disagreements and make sure you're coming to the solving the right problems. But it is definitely a cultural, again, coming back to defining that balance within the team and saying navigational buoys is we do expect failure. If we were successful every time, then that would tell us that we are not pushing the edge of the envelope enough. We need to be able to hit the failure point to know where that success point is. And if we don't know where those both are, then we're never going to be as good as we can be. I always used to laugh. An old story was a pipeline a company was maintaining and they were tracking leads and they had an 80% success rate on their lead generation of converting them to transactions. And everybody thought it was great. And I remember coming in and talking and saying, well, all that tells me is everybody is not entering their leads until they're absolutely assured that they're going to become a sale, and then they're still failing 20% of the time. That's not how a pipeline works. You should have a pipeline that generates leads that you're maybe successful at 20, 30% of the time, and that's okay, right? But that means you're pushing the lead generation to its extreme to get to the maximum possible success if you can, and it's okay, because that 30% number, I guarantee you will be higher than the 70% number that you had on that, I would say faulty tester or monitoring. And to me, that's a great example of, you have to understand the parameters that failure is good. Hate to use a baseball analogy, but the greatest baseball players are hitting 300. They hit the ball three out of 10 times, and everybody thinks it means they fail seven times, but they're swinging the bat.

Megan - 00:21:30: And what do you see as the biggest threats impacting digital assurance and transparency?

Mark - 00:21:35: I think we hit upon this a little bit. I worry that in environments where we are not tested to be our best or not challenged that sometimes things such as productivity, test results aren't monitored, and we're distracted enough. I would say the biggest threat I always see is a lack of focus at the leadership level on the defined outcomes you're trying to achieve. Now that can be very broad, right, and can come in many different ways. But I think when we always take a step back and look at how we apply our strategy, it's always about making sure we've defined it in a manner that everybody understands the outcomes and is not distracted by called the shiny object of the day or having conflicting views within our leadership team that we're all aligned around that. It's been wildly successful for us. It always comes back to making sure we understand our end proposition is about our customers and providing them value and making them successful, and that everything we do has to start with, does this help our customer? And from there, our strategy about providing them all the tools they need to be successful, again, entrepreneurs and micro businesses, and have the ability to engage their customers, that is the, I would say, top-level focus that we continue to come back for. Because if our customers are successful, then we're successful. So our teams are working towards the outcomes, will this make our customers successful and ask those broad questions? If we get distracted from that, that's when we find ourselves maybe the tester of the law, so we're not considering things. I would say the other area I always focus on making sure does not become a threat in this environment is communication. This style, this culture requires a lot of communication, a lot of different communication. It could be, now we can get back to in-person more often, which I'm loving. I love seeing the teams back in the office and coming in, even if not every day of the week, having them back sometimes is great. But using digital channels to also exchange information, to make it more real-time, quick, so everybody understands what everybody's doing. So there are no surprises, and then everybody's staying focused, and you can also check in as a leader to make sure people are staying on track or whether or not on track, or at least calling out what they need to do to get it back on track. Again, it comes back to, you all have to be in this together, you have to be transparent, you're all driving towards the same outcome, and you're all committed to each other. And you also understand each other's emotional state, coming back to that balance of, agreeing that we all bring something to the team and what our roles are, and that we continue to focus on making sure we're delivering. Everybody has to be held accountable and that makes this environment successful. When that pulls apart, that becomes a risk to the environment.

Megan - 00:24:30: Do you think this is table stakes these days for a company to do well and survive, or is this something that can still differentiate a company from its competitors doing this well?

Mark - 00:24:42: Megan, that's an exceptional question. I say that from a point of view of, I think if you would ask me this a couple of years ago, I probably would have been leaning more towards table stakes. But I think the current environment we're in because of how our team has changed a bit in how we team in this environment coming out of the last couple of years is differentiated itself. It's not something we've dealt with before. I think teams can apply this current environment today successfully and make it a differentiator. Teams that are going to apply what they were doing two years ago and still think it's going to be successful going forward, I think those are the teams that will struggle. I may have said table stakes a couple of years ago. I think the current environment has really changed so dramatically that now it creates an opportunity for teams that are really good at this to do well. I will tell you when we were managing through the crisis, we had multiple teams and I had multiple teams that I had to monitor, and I had multiple leaders that I was working with. I saw such differentiated results between the leaders who emotionally engaged within their teams to understand how everybody was doing, to have that connectivity even in a remote environment, to make sure that they understood where the breaking points were ahead before we got to the breaking points to trust in their team to be able to transparently bring that up. Not only did those teams show better results at the end of the day, but after we all got back, those teams were so much far more advanced and the teams that were more into the, I would say, I call it transactional or just giving out orders or instructions or not emotionally balanced enough during that environment or never made the crossover. Those teams struggled with the results and the differentiation between those two teams coming out of the pandemic really proved to me that this can become a real advantage for teams if they know how to apply it correctly.

Megan - 00:26:45: And let's switch gears for a bit and talk about the marriage of finance and operations. So, this is a notion that's really gained a lot of traction in the financial world, I would say in the last decade, maybe more. So can you explain first of all what this means to you and what it entails?

Mark - 00:27:04: Yeah, it's really about being over the hill, right? Helping people forecast, helping people understand what's in front of them again. I would say when I take a step back and look at it, to me, the marriage between the two really comes down to finance being a partner with the business. And what does that mean? Well, we have to share in those defined outcomes, and we have to understand what we're both working for. And we both have to agree on how we're going to measure our success, how we're going to experiment, and what are we looking for in those experiments. That ability to interoperate between teams and operations can be a very general view. In regards, it can be in our case, we do a lot of marketing, we do a lot of direct, we're a B2B that acts like a B2C, I always say. We are very consumer-oriented, but we're in general, we're a business-to-business operation. But we rely heavily on marketing, bringing people into our funnel. And so our partnership with the marketing team is extraordinarily important because we are looking at data, we are in a great spot. We have 21 million customers ourselves, which is extraordinary for any company. And we have a lot of Data about the activity that goes on with our customers online. We can see the transactions, we can see the activity. We have a lot of insights. We can also have a lot of insights into the channels that attract traffic to us. So sitting down with marketing as a finance team is looking at how are we going to measure the marketing dollars we're spending and the return and agree on what that algorithm should look like and what channels we can apply to get that algorithm working in an efficient way was a great example of success for us. We did it several years ago and people still talk about it today that we have been able to get more out of our marketing dollars than a lot of our peer companies out there. But that was an example of we all defined the outcome that we were looking for. We all defined the experiments. We all looked at the data we wanted to incorporate into that. We all looked at the algorithm and agreed that this is the right algorithm. We started to apply that to the market and then we started to iterate at the same time. Again, it was a partnership between finance and marketing looking at how are we getting the desired outcomes, what's not working, what's working, and then looking at it almost every quarter and saying, okay, how do we do this better? What changed? That to me is the epitome of great operational partnership by the finance team. That happens everywhere now. If it's not happening somewhere, then I would say any finance team is not doing its job. We have to be there as partners, as leaders are making decisions to give them stage advice on what works, making sure we're all working towards the outcomes together, not only for the customer but for our shareholders, our investors. Everything has to be aligned in the same spot. That ability to do that to me epitomizes the importance finance can play in the operations role and making sure we are there helping guide and helping, again, coming back to making good decisions and solving complex problems together.

Megan - 00:30:12: And what are some common roadblocks you see to finance being able to ingrain itself within operations?

Mark - 00:30:19: I would say it's a little bit of the inability to move into what I would say is the current environment. I understand it's more of a historical look back versus a look forward. I think it's very important that we continue to look forward with our operations. And when I see it imbalanced when I see it more of I'm just going to report out to you and have a bias because I know you're trying to achieve something and regardless of whether it's right or wrong, I always have a saying I use internally, which is, you tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And the finance team has to continue to do that. Sometimes that is hard, I agree. People sometimes just want to hear what they want to hear. But when it works, we're telling everybody what they need to hear so they can make better decisions. When it doesn't work, we're telling everybody what they want to hear, and therefore decision-making becomes flawed. That's the phrase I continue to use with my teams, with people we put around us, even our third-party providers. Remember, tell us what we need to hear, what we want to hear. And the CEO and I are extraordinarily aligned on that concept. We might not like what people tell us. We might like what the teams tell us. That doesn't change the fact that you tell us what we need to hear.

Megan - 00:31:32: And as you look at the role of CFO, how do you see it evolving in the next five to ten years?

Mark - 00:31:38: Yeah, so I think we have to acknowledge that Machine Learning and AI are things that are going to change the world we're in. It is not going to replace what the CFO does by any means or what the Finance Departments do by any means, but it's going to change the speed at which decision-making needs to be made and our ability to handle it at that volume will shift, I think, in the coming years extraordinarily. And that's what we need to be able to be ready for. This has evolved over time, and I'll, fortunately, go to date myself, but you look at the ability for information to become available for data even to be analyzed for all the information coming in. Over time, it's coming in faster, more of it. Being able to triangulate that into relevant data to make great decisions, only going to get faster and faster. And there are going to be tools that are out there that are going to help make it even faster. And that's where I think the role of the CFO has to embrace the change that is coming and the ability to apply it. Again, I think the CFOs of the future will be able to take things like AI and use it as a tool in order to create efficiencies in their own organization. But get to faster, better, quicker, better decision-making, better problem-solving, and embrace those tools to be able to do it. There's no fighting it. It's coming. Now, it's probably at the infancy stage today. I know everybody wants to talk about it a lot right now. At the end of the day, we're just at the beginning of this journey and the role of the CFO will evolve into more of a data-driven role and get into faster decision-making. And being able to analyze not only external threats, but internal threats, and being able to apply that to making, I would say, good decisions faster. And that's the evolution of this role as we move forward.

Megan - 00:33:36: And last question, what is it that's keeping you up at night? What are there threats on the horizon that have you worried?

Mark - 00:33:44: It's a great question and I would humbly say that boy, there's a lot of stuff that keeps me up every night. I would say not knowing, what I don't know is probably the area that I wonder about. I can see the opportunities in front of us. I can see the threats around us. I can see what our ability to execute will deliver. I feel good about the teams that are out there, but we're in a technology space. Innovation matters. Customer relationships matter. I am a big proponent that you need two things in this industry to continue to win. you need to own the customer relationship and understand it. You have to be able to innovate. And what keeps me up at night is the thought that if we were ever to lose any one of those, that would create a different dynamic within our business, within our industry. And that's something that I would say, we are great at today with both of those, but we have to be great at it tomorrow, and we have to be great at it the following day, and we can't assume that's just going to be a constant that happens every day. We have to work at it.

Megan - 00:34:53: Great answer. Mark, thank you so much for being my guest today.

Mark - 00:34:56: Oh, Megan, this was great. Thank you. Always happy to come back anytime. I love this stuff and it was great just getting to meet you and talk to you today.

Megan - 00:35:04: Yeah, really fun conversation. I've enjoyed speaking with you, and thank you for finding the time to be here with us today to share your experience and knowledge. And I wish you and GoDaddy all the best. And to our listeners, please tune in next week, and until then, take care.

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • How can finance leaders balance data and gut feeling effectively?

  • Why are digital assurance and transparency important to a CFO?

  • How can CFOs foster an environment of experimentation?

  • What does it take to approach finance to operations?

Key Takeaways:

The Interplay of Data and Gut Feel in Effective Decision-Making

Quote data assurance for decision making

Mark acknowledges the significance of data analysis and emphasizes the need to identify relevant data for the given situation, ensuring its accuracy and comprehensiveness. He views data as a foundational element in decision-making. However, he also acknowledges that effective decision-making involves emotional intelligence.

As a result, striking a balance between data-driven insights and gut feelings becomes vital. Successful teams possess the ability to harmonize these two aspects. Moreover, as a leader, Mark understands that leadership is not just a title but an emotional state. It entails fostering this balance within the team, enabling them to make better decisions based on relevant data.

“I believe in the importance of looking at data, the importance of defining what data is relevant to the situation you're in...But good decision-making also includes emotional proficiency.” McCaffrey said. - 10:58 - 13:59

Digital Assurance and Transparency

Quote Mark McCaffrey CFO at GoDaddy

In our digital age, concepts like AI, Machine Learning, and data analytics are everywhere. Therefore, ensuring quality data is the most important part of decision-making. Finance teams need to focus on relevant metrics that support a business's desired outcomes and ladder them appropriately. Digital assurance and transparency require defining outcomes and working from the top down and bottom-up to handle the influx of data effectively, filter what's relevant, and be transparent in your actions and measurements.

“As a finance team, we try to partner with the business to make sure they are getting the relevant digital assurance data that is coming out to make those decisions, making sure we're helping them review what data they should be looking at, the quality and the completeness of that data, and at the same time being transparent in how you measure it.” McCaffrey said. - 13:59 - 17:03

Embracing Failure and Unleashing Success With Digital Assurance

Quote embracing success with digital assurance and transparency

Promote an atmosphere of experimentation, where disagreements are welcomed and resolved to address the right challenges. Cultivating a supportive culture within the team is crucial, ensuring that you embrace the idea of navigating unknown territories. Recognize that failures are an expected part of the process. If you were to succeed every time, it would indicate a lack of pushing boundaries. By reaching the point of failure, you gain valuable insights into where success lies.

“It's a culture and that is something on a leadership basis that you just have to continue to drive.” McCaffrey said. - 19:21 - 21:30

The Synergy of Finance and Operations

Quote the synergy of finance for business transparency

The fusion of finance and operations goes beyond age-related milestones. It empowers individuals to foresee and navigate future challenges. This partnership requires finance to be a strategic ally, agreeing on success metrics, experimentation, and desired outcomes. For instance, at GoDaddy, the finance collaboration with the marketing team is vital. With 21 million customers and extensive data, finance optimizes marketing spend by defining measurement criteria and efficient channels.

“The marriage between the two really comes down to finance being a partner with the business.” McCaffrey said. - 26:45 - 30:12

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