Name: David Cocchiara
Age: 40 Time with company: 10.5 years
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from California State University, Chico.
Company headquarters: Alpharetta, Georgia
Countries of operation: U.S., U.K., Dubai
Number of employees total: 95
Number of employees the CFO/COO oversees: 25
Areas of responsibility: Financial, legal, operations, customer care, services, production, IT and administrative functions as well as overseeing the company's corporate development activities, including strategic alliances and partnerships.
About the company: Lancope provides flow-based security and network monitoring software for enterprises across a range of industries.
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I started, like many CFOs, in public accounting. I was an audit manager with KPMG in Sacramento, California. The interesting thing about working in public accounting is that it affords you the opportunity to see a lot of different companies in a short amount of time and experience many different management styles. I was fortunate to work with many different types of companies from Fortune 500 companies with public reporting requirements to a small startup cattle company in Hawaii to Sun-Maid Raisins (eventually becoming an expert raisin auditor) to the usual array of manufacturing, retail banks, real-estate, construction, agricultural and technology companies.
In 2000, the founder of a startup technology company, who lived next door to one of my clients, asked my client if she knew anyone who could be the controller for a small technology company that was just getting off the ground. She recommended me and that's what led me into technology. It seemed like a good move, as I saw a lot of people leaving public accounting in the Bay Area and becoming rich overnight, however, shortly after the company started, the Internet bubble burst and we had to build a real company.
So, I began working with a handful of pure technology guys. We were able to raise money from some good investors and ultimately grew the organization to 90 folks. There, I learned a lot about running a business as I worked on all of the business planning and business strategy, in addition to all of the other financial and operational aspects of the business.
From there, I went to work for one of the venture capital investors with the intention of being an interim CFO for small companies in which they were invested. The plan was to drop in and help a company for a little while, make sure the company's foundation got built properly (i.e., financially and the management team), then ultimately hire a replacement and move on to the next one. It seemed like a good idea and I liked the prospect of being involved in different companies again. The first company I went to work for in January 2002 was Lancope. I moved from California to Georgia then and I'm still here today.
In the fall of 2002, I was asked by Lancope's CEO to become the full-time CFO and decided to pursue that path as I felt it may have more long-term benefits compared to working with the venture capital group. This was absolutely the right decision.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?