Finding Joy In The CFO Journey With Ashim Gupta, UiPath CFO

The CFO of UiPath and former CFO at GE talks about offensive AI strategies, achieving a one-day close--and how he defines success.

Ashim Gupta currently serves as the CFO of more than $1 billion UiPath, a position that he took after two decades at GE in both financial leadership roles and as a CIO. In this episode of “Secrets of Rockstar CFOs,” Gupta talks with host Jack McCullough about how his previous role as chief customer success officer for UiPath informs his philosophies as CFO, the challenges of beginning the IPO process during Covid, and how his daily practice playing classical Indian drums keeps him grounded.

Listen by clicking below. The Q&A, lightly edited and trimmed for clarity, follows.

Listen to the podcast here

My guest is Ashim Gupta of
UiPath, one of the hot companies out there. Ashim, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much, Jack. Thanks for having me.

I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a while and while UiPath has certainly been one of the great success stories, it’s not exactly a household name like your prior employer. Maybe you could share a little bit about the company with our audience.

UiPath is an automation platform for enterprises of all sizes. What we do, at the core of our offering, is to emulate what humans do through software robots. Those software robots then can do the basic mundane work that people don’t like to do. They incorporate artificial intelligence so that humans can do what they’re meant to do, which is analyze, make decisions, join a team, and solve tough problems. Around that core proposition, we’ve built other automation capabilities such as document understanding, the ability to identify through process discovery, tough transactions, or processes that are difficult to manage. We sell that to enterprises all across the globe.

You’ve been with the company for years now. Before we get into your career journey, which is of great interest to our audience, I want to learn a little about your pre-professional life. Where’d you grow up?

I grew up in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Tri-state area all my life. Went to school at Rutgers as well, so I’m an East Coaster through and through.

Did you come from a big family?

I came from a big family in India. My dad has six brothers and sisters. My mom had two sisters and they had children of their own. Here in America, it was my two parents and my older sister who’s an orthodontist. We grew up like a small nucleus family here but when we would go back to India, that’s when it felt like a big family.

You have a lot of first cousins, it sounds like.

It’s in the 30s for sure.

Did you study business at Rutgers?

No, I was in Economics and Political Science, a double major. I was a Labor and Women’s Studies double minor, which may sound strange but my passion at that time was really to evoke social reform and that was the impetus for Labor Studies and Women’s Studies or gender and ethnic relations. Through a lot of twists of fate, I found myself in corporate America.

You started your career at GE.

That was my first job. GE Appliances, to be specific, through their Financial Management Program called the FMP program at that time, which was a rotational program. I spent my first two years there at GE Appliances, and then I continued for 19 years after that.

It’s interesting, because when I was looking at your profile, you don’t hear a lot of people with a 19-year career at the same company. You’re a little bit unconventional in that sense, but GE to me is synonymous with corporate finance. I’ve always said you can take GE alumni, if you want to call them that, and put them against Wharton and Harvard. They’re going to stack up with any institution that’s ever been. What are some of the critical things that you learned during two decades at GE?

I got to work alongside people like Steve Sedita, who’s the CFO of GE Appliances, Dan Janke, who now is the CFO of Delta Air Lines, Jeff Bornstein, the CFO of GE, and so many people. Brian Davis, who’s a CHRO, taught me a lot. You see what great leadership is and it’s the clarity of thought, the ability to communicate, and then follow up with execution. GE knew how to go and solve problems, take thoughts, put them into action, and hold and drive accountability.

Those were some of the core pieces, but what was also great was that while they valued finance, every finance person was thought to be the COO of their domain. You weren’t a spreadsheet person or if you were, that was a ceiling. You had to be immersed in the operations of the company. That connection between finance and operations probably is the number one thing that’s lived with me ever since and has been ingrained in me pretty deeply.

You were there for 20 years. Did you have any mentors along the way, formal or otherwise?

Tons of mentors. Joe Allen, who I believe is the diversity officer now for GE Aircraft Engines, held a lot of financial leadership jobs. He was an incredible mentor to me. Apart from being smart in core analytics, he taught me to have fun at work. We would do operating, planning, and budgeting while sometimes shooting basketball in the parking lot.

He was a great person to connect with and laugh and he taught me so much about communication and analytics when I didn’t even know I was learning. It’s a relationship I value to this day. I mentioned Dan Janke and Heiner Markhoff, who is the CEO of GE Water. They taught me about execution. One of the things that Dan Janke said was, “no wasted motion.” He put that out into practice. That was something that I’m still learning to this day.

That’s one of those things a lot easier to say than to do.

Sometimes you think it’s corporate speak, but the value of a mentor is not what they say to you. It’s that they’re examples. You don’t think it’s corporate speak. You see it in practice. It gives you something to aspire to beyond being able to recite the quotation. That’s something I’m grateful for that group for.

It’s interesting because I’ve publicly recognized some of my early career mentors and occasionally, a couple of them have said they didn’t know that I viewed them in that way. When you’re in a company where you work with a lot of smart people who show an interest in your career, you end up with that mentor type of relationship whether it was planned or formal or not.

To be truthful, I’m sitting here almost feeling guilty because the list of all these great leaders and people who’ve been a helping aide or a teacher to me, it’s such a long list. I don’t want to leave people out, but we would use the entire show talking about that list if I had the opportunity.

Are you actively, or maybe inactively mentoring any professionals at this point in your career?

I have two or three formal mentees who have asked me to be a formal mentor. There are people that I’m constantly coaching, whether that’s people on my team or people who’ve been a partner with me throughout my career that we still touch base. Honestly, for me, it’s hard maybe being the younger brother in my household to feel like a mentor. I get as much advice though from a lot of the people that may be getting advice from me. I get a lot of lessons from them in return. The relationship that I try to build is a mutual exchange relationship.

I encourage CFOs to get a Gen Z mentor for several reasons. Not the least of which they’re going to be running the world before too many more years.

It’s true. There’s a different language altogether with Gen Z. They’re teaching me how to stay hip, hopefully.

Is hip still a thing?

They would probably give me a different word for it, but I’m a work in progress.

There you go. It came out not too long ago when Taylor Swift was dating Travis Kelce. Until that moment, I thought Taylor Swift was a male country singer, I don’t know why. I said, “Taylor Swift’s a woman?” My nephews and nieces and the young people in my life, they were like, “God, you need so much work.” It is what it is. Almost two decades run at GE and then you left to join UiPath. Big company, small company at the time, but why that particular moment and why that particular company?

Maybe one step back is after I was in finance at GE, my last job at GE was as the CIO for our shared service organization. Understanding technology and the impact that it was having on corporate life, corporate processes, and customers was something that impressed me in that organization. I got to work with great technology and IT leaders who taught me a ton.

I was one of UiPath’s customers. I got to meet Daniel and honestly, the humility of Daniel at that time. On top of that, he was hiring 450 people and we were firing 450 people at that moment for cost savings. That juxtaposition made me feel like I haven’t been a part of where growth and tech come together in my career. That was something I aspired to be. I was fortunate that Daniel would have me on the team.

For clarification, Daniel is the founder and CEO of the company. You weren’t hired as the CFO, your title was chief success officer or chief customer success officer.

When I met Daniel, he was like, “Join the company.” I honestly thought, given my background, he was going to hire me into finance. When we discussed it a little bit more, his thought was, “You’re a customer. Go make other customers successful.” In software, this role is a pretty common role that helps customers adopt, utilize, and maximize the benefit of software. That’s how I joined. I had never talked to a customer at GE in my life.

My first job at UiPath was, 90 percent of the time, building a team that talked to customers and me, myself talking to customers. Speaking of mentors, John Rice who was the Vice Chairman at GE, said, “Go what makes you feel most uncomfortable.” Talking to customers was the thing that I was most afraid of. That led to excitement for me, embracing the job.

One thing I’ve learned is that CFOs are very successful in interacting with customers or people who have a financial background. Here’s a situation where you were doing it for your full-time job for a couple of years.

I learned a ton. I had a budget imposed upon me by the CFO at that time, so I felt what it was like to operate under that budget and manage growth. That was probably one of the greatest learning experiences for me in my career because there are jobs where you know the content and you know that you know. There are jobs where you think you know the content, but you don’t know it. There are jobs where you know you’re over your head. The customer success role was a job of the third category for me. I didn’t know anything. Every morning, I was awake trying to learn and it was exciting.

To me, it was eye-opening because I went from being CFO to CMO in a different company. My new coworkers would laugh at me because it was tough for me to give up the CFO mindset. I remember one saying, “Did you just argue with yourself?” I was arguing both positions. It sounds like an interesting role and you eventually went back to a CFO-type role, or went to a CFO role at the company. What did you learn from that role that maybe is making you a better CFO even now?

Context is everything. In the CFO role, you think about the numbers, meeting expectations, and the quarter in particular. Those are the last things that customers care about. A lot of the conversations that you are building with your customers, they’re for revenue one year, two years, three years from now. What that role gave me is customers are the lifeblood. I knew it in word, but I didn’t know it in practice. Especially if you’re growing the top line, if you believe in the market you’re in, if you believe in your technology, customers are the source of your product roadmap, they’re the source of your strategy. They’re the greatest points of feedback on your organizational structure and design.

From a CFO perspective, staying in touch with the field, not rising to any type of ivory tower and looking out upon an area, but going and continuing to hear that unfiltered feedback from that perspective, that was the lesson from that job that I take with me. In addition to how hard it is to build something. One of the things that UiPath was an organization that was nascent at 12-15 people and had to scale to 250 people. I’ve always run things. I hadn’t built things. Building is a skill that I have so much more respect for and how to interact and fund builders is an important skill set for a CFO to embrace.

There was a time when the CFO was a back office type of job. You would’ve just wasted two years of your life almost you can’t bring it back. The type of CFO that you are in a lot of your contemporaries where you’re strategic, you’re forward-thinking, you’re helping grow the business, that had to have been an invaluable way to spend a couple of years.

It was incredible.

You moved back to a CFO role in 2019, and the company did an IPO in 2021. Was the thinking when they hired you in the CFO type of role that, “Things are going great. We need professional world-class financial leadership to maybe execute an exit,” or was that in the back of your mind at the time?

It was completely the opposite, Jack. The reason why I got into the CFO job was the company was going through a transition. We were hemorrhaging cash at that moment just for a lot of factors, and they just needed support to get certain processes back on track. That was the main impetus for me to be the CFO. I never intended to be a public company CFO. The thought was to do that for a couple of years, bring in a CFO, and then I could support them at that time.

Again, a lot of twists of fate, earning the confidence of our founder and our board. I got the opportunity to be the CFO and take the company public. It’s unusual for, at least at that time, our scale. We were going to be one of the most valued IPOs at that time to give that CFO job to somebody who never had a public company CFO job in their area. It was a lot of learning and adapting for me, and honestly, just lucky to get to be in that position at that moment.

You’re giving luck too much credit. I’m sure you worked your butt off and made some great decisions along the way. That might’ve been the worst question ever asked though. Were you brought in for the IPO? Absolutely not.

It worked out well. It’s interesting, for finance professionals, you never know what you’re going to get and then how to prepare. I will tell you, it was a good lesson of just doing the best job you can at that moment and preparing for the best. You never have to prepare for the worst.

I’ve spent most of my career in the innovation sector. For most CFOs I know, IPO is the Holy Grail. They’re a great thing but the reality is most companies don’t get to that level. The ones that are high flyers often acquire before the IPO comes along. You executed a successful IPO. Tell us a little about what that was like. Your first time doing it, were you excited or nervous? Walk us through if you would, Ashim.

All of the emotions of the above. In the timeline that it was there, it was a combination of feeling the pressure because everybody’s relying on you to do all this work to get to that moment. As you said, very few companies get to that mountaintop, but it’s on the CFO in a major way to get there. There was a lot of pressure at that time. Once you surround yourself with people who know the public markets and preparation, get the best bankers, get the best lawyer, and surround yourself with the best team members that you can, who have experience in that area. That was helpful for me.

What’s fun about the IPO is you’re essentially selling yourself to the world, to the public markets. The first part of it is building your S1, which is showing your strategy and your business to everybody out there. I remember going through that with the leadership team. It’s like renewing your vows. You realize why you joined the company. You start talking about the market size, your technology, and your competitive advantages. It’s motivating to do it.

The second stage of that is preparing your financial statements and making sure you are ready for the IPO. Do you have the right accounting background? Do you have the right policies? You don’t want to get to the public markets and then say, “I have something major to change.” That was very technical. We went through rev rec and accounting policy reviews and changes that were there. That was like the core geeky fun of finance.

The third piece is starting to prepare for what life is like after. The year before the IPO, we ran it like a public company. We would close like a public company and do mock earnings calls. Just getting into the mindset of game day that was a third piece and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of pressure along the way, but it was a lot of fun.

In 2021, were you doing traditional road shows or was it more virtual than it had been?

It was fully virtual. We started doing it amid COVID. Our test the waters, which is the pre-IPO, we did not even in an office location, we did it in a pretty remote area, just to be very safe. The roadshow was 100 percent virtual and we did that in New York which was an incredible experience, but you didn’t get the full roadshow, the way people talk about it, about getting whisked off on this plane ride, going through these all-day meetings, grabbing lunch at a local store. It was very much locked in a room in a two-dimensional environment.

It’s a little different than in my era. I never did one as a CFO, but as a controller, I was allowed to participate in it as an observer and whatnot. It was an incredible whirlwind. It’s the most exciting from a business perspective experience I ever went through. They’re great companies that start thinking that there might be an exit. One thing about an IPO is that they do change everything.

It’s a financial event, and other than the actual founding of the company, it’s the biggest event in the company’s history for the most part. At the same time, it can change everything. You’re now a public company, so how do you, as one of the leaders of that company, balance the startup culture and the innovation mindset with the realities of now being a publicly traded company? It changes the entire game.

It’s something I still think even a couple of years later, we’re going to adapt to because you also are changing market conditions. The way I look at it is now, you have two things that fundamentally change. One is you have a completely different shareholder or stakeholder base that has expectations of you that you have to meet in addition to your employees and customers. Balancing short-term versus long-term, balancing the long-term investments that you have to make with conviction, even if short-term, you’re going to get speculation or skepticism from a shareholder base, that’s the hardest thing. What’s interesting about it is shareholders are smart.

When we go through our callbacks, the questions they ask, and where they poke on, honestly eight to nine times out of 10, they’re correct. They’re not looking for the quarter, but they’ll challenge you whether you’re making the right things. The other interesting area is how you adapt your metrics. We went live at the IPO, cash was not valued as much as it is now in a 5 percent interest rate environment. When you change your strategy pre-IPO, it’s around growing the business.

Now, how you grow the business is related to your largest currency, which is your stock price. The cost of your ability to have a high valuation gives you the ability for M&A, stock-based compensation impacts, etc., and employee morale. How do you decide what are the things you adapt to and what are the things that you have enough conviction to say, “I’m going to take a hit for that, but I believe in doing it?” Those discussions are the hardest discussions to have internally. I don’t know if there’s anything that prepares you for it until you go through that process.

It is one of those things that you can read books about and talk to your friends and other people who have gone through it, the bankers, and all the other advisors you have, but living with it means you can’t prepare for the realities once it’s done. I wanted to chat with you a little bit about, please correct me if I have my facts wrong because I got it from your website, but you have co-CEOs. Daniel Dines, who is one of the Founders and the Co-CEO, and then Rob Enslin who’s the CEO.

I’m curious how that plays out because there’s been a lot of research, and Accenture famously reported that the CEO-CFO relationship is the most critical within the C-Suite. Not that they have to hang out together on weekends or anything like that, but they need to be on the same page, challenge each other, be candid with each other, and lead the company together. You’re in a situation where you’ve got two CEOs. I’m curious what that dynamic is like on a day-to-day.

There are pluses and minuses to it. Just to be fully authentic, I’d love to say everything’s perfect. One point of background is Daniel’s mindset as an engineer and he is a product and engineering expert. Rob’s mindset is a go-to-market leader and he is a go-to-market expert. He’s probably one of the best go-to-market leaders in software. Not just for me, but you hear that from many people externally as well.

When you put that together, what’s fun about it is you have the right brain and the left brain at maximum force together. For me, that keeps me on my toes to make sure, “Am I balancing enough and connecting enough those dots between it?” The benefit is our strategies and our discussions are richer because you’ve got two fully loaded pieces of energy with great expertise coming to the discussion.

The difficulties can be, especially now when everybody’s traveling to move around, it’s just one more logistical challenge to get everybody in the same room for important discussions to have those discussions together. It requires real-time commitment from us and planning. We are discussing things together and that’s a little bit more challenging. You can’t just say, “Tomorrow I can call Daniel on the phone,” then I wouldn’t have Rob right on a one-on-one relationship. I can call Rob, I talked to him this morning, but then you got to follow up with Daniel or they have to follow up.

Logistically it just adds one extra leg to be able to do it. We’re better for it. That being said, Daniel is transitioning out of the full-time CEO role as of February. Rob is going to step into that job full-time, but a founder never leaves his company. That dynamic will continue to be there throughout, but for me, it’s been great so far. There are pluses and minuses, some challenges, but on the whole, we’re better for it.

Do you think that might be a model other companies would be well advised to adapt going forward, the co-CEO?

It depends on your company’s state. It depends on your area. Daniel focusing his time on AI 100 percent is an amazing asset for us. Rob running the day-to-day operations and go-to-market, and for us, that has worked well. It depends on your company. If a lot of companies don’t have founders. If you look at Workday, Workday did something similar with their founder and a co-CEO structure that’s going to transition to a full CEO structure. It’s a great way though for founders to start moving out of a role that they don’t want to do full-time because of the demands of a day-to-day operational CEO it’s a great model for that transition. I don’t know if it’s a great model for every company itself.

One thing I know a real source of pride for you is the team you’ve built. I want to pick your brain a little bit. What are your secrets to building a world-class team? It’s never been harder for CFOs than it is right now with talent shortages, the multi-generational workforce, and people not entering the profession in as high numbers as they did at one point and they’re leaving for other opportunities. What are some of the challenges you face? I know you’ve got a great team.

The first is like making sure in the rush to get talent, you don’t sacrifice diversity. I’ll define diversity not just as gender or ethnicity, but as a background of expertise and skillset. If you look at my team, I have an incredible IR leader. Kelsey Turcotte, who’s been around software, who’s been in investor relations forever, has such a great connection. She’s taught me so much because as a newer CFO in the public markets, that’s different for me.

I have a Chief Accounting Officer. This was his first chief accounting officer job, but he was a partner with a big four. Completely different background than being in the industry. I have two FP&A segments, one for commercial, and one for total company, and they’re rising stars. FP&A is a stronger skill set for me. Don’t sacrifice diversity. That’s the first mindset. The second is don’t go to your comfort zone. I try not to hire people I know from the past in large numbers because it creates cliques, it creates biases, and it reinforces biases when you may need different thinking about the company.

The third is, to be honest with you, make sure there’s chemistry. You can have all the skillsets, you can have the smartest people, but if you’re not going to have fun along the way, it’s hard to get through challenging times. Injecting as much fun and laughter, and making sure the chemistry of the teams is there, that’s important as well for me. Patience in a tough market is probably the number one thing that I try to keep myself to.

How big is your finance and accounting team at this point?

In total, we’re around 300 people. When you add in IT and procurement and other operational functions, it’s north of that. That’s the general size of it.

I would probably be doing our audience a real disservice not to ask you about AI. To me, it’s the biggest game changer since the worldwide web in the 1990s. It’s at that level and maybe the biggest one we’ll experience during our careers. What should CFOs and executives, in general, be thinking about when it comes to generative AI, top-of-mind issues for them?

The first thing is to play offense more than you play defense. That’s my mindset with the new technology.

I’m stealing that.

A lot of times, you start with the fear factors related to them but start with the benefits of what they can provide and find ways to infuse that into that culture to find different ways to do it. Can I do variance analysis using generative AI? Absolutely, yes. Can I write accounting memos using generative AI and reduce the time for my accounting team? One hundred percent yes. Can I use AI even beyond generative AI like automation and make sure that I’m able to maximize my processes so people can spend more time on analytics and decision-making? Yes. Those are methods of offense for me in terms of how I would characterize it.

The other piece is to make sure on your team you have what IBM used to call Penguins. People walk a little bit differently because when you put new technology in the hands of old mindsets, you don’t get to understand it. Make sure you have a few people whom everybody looks at and says, “They’re cowboys and they’re spirited and it’s going to be an issue.” From that perspective, I would make sure that you have the right mindset of people on your team to extract the benefits of it.

I have to ask you the question, do you see the day, and I don’t mean tomorrow, next year, or even in five years, can AI do your job? Do you think an AI can replace an executive in a company?

It can do parts of my job. If you look at some of the things that I do now, interpretation of data, AI can do it. Identifying trends to highlight to operating partners or operating leaders in the company to make them aware of it as they build strategies, it can do it. Going and making sure that I’m listening and understanding the next set of emerging issues, AI can create signals from a lot of data that it can provide to the CEO. Being a strategic partner to your CEO, being a leader and developing your teams, and being a real operational support for customers, I don’t think AI can do. For me, what AI will do is elevate the position itself, take the parts that I shouldn’t be doing, and do it in a different way.

The reason I asked is a study by Gartner that 60 percent of finance teams have no near-term plans to embrace gen AI in a particularly aggressive way. There were many reasons. One of the reasons is that there aren’t enough skilled people to lead the effort. Another one of them is employees are nervous about AI replacing them. Embracing AI is like training the person who’s going to take your job from you.

It’s so funny, I laugh at it because if you look at it, one true thing is humans are resilient. We used to have thousands of workers on an assembly line before manufacturing processes were automated. I was joking around because one of my old colleagues, Excel was a new tool for them. Before that, they would tell me how they used to open these big graphing books and write stuff.

Excel was a massive productivity change. You still have finance people today doing that even with that level of automation of closing the books. I feel like humans adapt and are resilient and we should never be afraid of technology. It’s an ungrounded fear that you have to face at some point because there’s no harnessing technology. It’s going to consume. It’s not controllable. You can’t say, “Don’t let it into my house.” It’s not possible.

I tell people when I graduated from high school, I majored in accounting and a lot of people advised me not to do it because technology would replace all accounting jobs and these were smart people. My guidance counselors, people who were engineers, and even other accountants told me this. It would’ve been hard to give less accurate advice. Technology created a lot of jobs, but it didn’t kill jobs. There’ll be some transitions without a doubt. Long term, it’s always been good. This probably will be too. I want to ask one thing of you. It came up before we started. Your team is doing a one-day close.

We’re on the path. Cost is almost there and a lot of it is the thought that says we got to spend less time looking backward and more time looking forward. That was the rallying call for the team. It’s possible, we’re 97 percent, 98 percent of our cost was booked by 1:00p.m. or known by 1:00p.m. on November 1st, 2023 which was our quarter close. We closed on a fiscal day and we’re still not satisfied. We want to keep going with revenue, etc., from that perspective.

I’m older than you, but I remember the 15-day close and when we cut it to 10, some high fives and celebrations that we were a paragon of efficiency to close the books 2 weeks at the end of the quarter. It’s incredible to think that you’re closing the books in hours, so good for you and your team. Ashim, you’re a public company CFO and that can be all-consuming, but I want to ask how many kids you have. You are a father, your most important role.

I have three kids, two girls and a boy. That is the role that I cherish the most, even though I can do a better job in that job. It’s what every day is teaching me.

Where does the boy fall in?

He is the youngest and he knows he’s the youngest. My wife’s parents live with us, so he’s got two older sisters, a mom, and two grandparents, and he is the baby of the entire house. I have a sister who has a 17, a 14, and a 13-year-old this 2023. He is the most spoiled child because everywhere he goes, he is the baby.

It’s interesting because the reason I ask is I was the only boy with sisters too, but I was the middle child. I was spoiled, but I didn’t have the middle child syndrome thing either because being the only boy, they canceled each other out. It’s pretty cool. There’s an advantage to the boy being older because as he gets older and of dating age, he can date some of his sister’s friends.

I am very worried that he will not also be able to help me as my daughters go on their journey. I’m looking for a partner because I’m not the largest of people in the world.

I play that role. I don’t have daughters, but I have several nieces. I play the role of the psychopathic uncle. “Sarah’s father’s a nice guy.” Just want to keep that in mind. I’ve had those pleasant conversations. On a personal note, is there a fun fact do you have an interesting hobby, something about you that might be surprising, even like a go-to joke that you might have?

I have a lot of jokes, but probably the fun fact is I play classical Indian drums. They’re called Tabla. For the last few years, I played them every single day, and even if I travel, I travel with them. I’m one of the few people who has a checked-in bag everywhere he goes. Even for 10 minutes in the morning in a hotel room, even covered in towels, so I don’t disturb the neighbors, I will play. You play them with your hands. I will make sure that I practice. That keeps me grounded in life.

I don’t imagine you have them next to you by any chance, do you?

I don’t. They’re at the hotel because I’m going to be leaving for San Francisco and they will be on the plane with me.

Is it just a hobby and relaxation or do you do it in a band or anything like that?

I can play with people, but I’m far from a professional. I’m not gifted at it. I play it mainly as a hobby, but I can jam if the time demands it, I can put on put on a beat or put on a little bit of a show if I need to.

I play a mean guitar, so when we meet in person, we’ll have to get together. We’ll work that out. I have no musical talent whatsoever. This was terrific. I want to give you an opportunity, any closing thoughts on helping the next generation of CFOs achieve some of the successes that you have?

One is not to be confined by paradigms of what a CFO is supposed to do. Everybody has such an incredible journey and usually, it’s the parts that aren’t core finance that make that CFO something special or give them a unique perspective. As people are growing in their careers or doing things, like Robert Frost says, “Take the path less traveled and that will make all the difference.” The second is to have fun. Sometimes finance can be a conflictual role. People want to be above their budgets. People are arguing over metrics. Laugh at it. You have to laugh at human nature. I wish I had less stress early in my career around those things. Use it as a place to enjoy interaction with other humans.

Congratulations. You’re our first guest to quote Robert Frost on any of our episodes or any poet to the best of my memory. Ashim, this was wonderful. I know you’re a busy guy, so I appreciate your time, and thanks so much.

Thanks so much, Jack.