My People-Centric Journey to CFO

By Nintex CFO, Eric Johnson

Growing up, I was always interested in business.  My dad spent his career in the corporate world, eventually becoming the CIO for a Fortune 500 transportation company.  I learned a lot from my father and became interested in business very early.  From my dad I vividly learned a few key lessons:

  • Deliver on your commitments
  • Have passion for your trade
  • Treat people right

I was fortunate to have a great role model who laid a strong foundation for me.  My dad advised that I study finance and accounting as he told me it is the language of business—that in the board room having this knowledge would be invaluable.  He was right. Since my first job, every single role that followed has come from a referral of someone I had worked with before.  I am eternally grateful for the help I received from these individuals and know that it was based on the fact, that in the prior roles, I had delivered on commitments and was viewed as a strong teammate.   

In my early roles, as a financial analyst and then as a finance manager, I focused like a laser on delivering on my commitments and making great relationships at work.  My bosses and other leaders quickly appreciated my execution and because of this I often was given the opportunity to take on extra roles.  At Merant as a Finance Manager, in a turn-around situation, I was part of a team that tripled the value of the company in about two years.  This experience led me to receive a large promotion to the Director of Finance and Accounting for the acquiring company, Serena Software, at age 27.  I quickly went from leading a two person team to a 30 person team.  The pressure was high with several critical projects.  I was fortunate to be able to lead a high performing team and was recognized with the Employee of the Year award in my first year. 

About three years later Serena needed an executive to lead WW Sales Operations.  Given my knowledge of the sales organization and working relationships with key sales leaders I was promoted to VP of WW Sales Ops.  In this role, I learned a ton about selling having the opportunity to spend time with prospects, customers, and our sales teams.  After four years in this role I was ready for a new challenge and joined Jive from a co-worker referral as the VP of Finance and Sales Ops.  We had an outstanding team, took the company public eight months later, and in the two and a half years I was there grew revenue from under $50 million to $150 million.

Throughout my career journey, I have learned to appreciate and fully understand the critical role of ensuring your team members know you care deeply about their personal success and the organization’s success.  Team members give their best when they have strong relationships with their boss, co-workers, and they are bought into the mission of the organization.  After Jive, I joined Nintex as CFO (of course, this too was based on a referral).  Nintex has an outstanding culture, combining innovation, collaboration and respect for the individual.  I am fortunate to be a CFO well before 40 at a successful high-growth software company. 

I credit my success to having had many great bosses and co-workers, combined with my commitment to execution and my concern for building great relationships.