This week, we sat with Carla Cooper, Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis. Carla served for over 20 years as a portfolio manager, before moving into the finance field and joining MuleSoft.
What drew you to MuleSoft and what is your favorite part of the culture?
The people. I previously worked with a current colleague, Steve Hallowell, now VP of Sales Enablement & Operations at MuleSoft. His positive experience at MuleSoft was a great window into MuleSoft. And then I got to meet the rest of this fabulous team!
The company’s vision. MuleSoft’s vision to be the software to “connect anything, change everything” is bold and important. If you’re interested in how things work, whether in business or finance or engineering, a huge piece of that is how systems work together. That’s what MuleSoft does. A friend said to me, “The world needs MuleSoft.” She’s right and that’s a big reason I am here.
The role. My role at MuleSoft has two parts. I lead financial planning and analysis and investor relations. FP&A is the team that creates budgets, forecasts, and internal financial reporting. I also run investor relations, responsible for communications with investors. The two halves are symbiotic, with my financial knowledge informing my work with investors, and, in turn, investor discussions pushing me to be sharper in understanding the strategy of the company. Because I worked as an equity analyst and portfolio manager for 20 years before moving into finance in 2010, I have a background that is well suited for this particular role.
What opportunities do you see at MuleSoft?
I joined MuleSoft to build an FP&A team at a soon-to-be public company. I’ve worked to hire four people who are a great fit at MuleSoft, have very sharp analytical skills, and bring different experiences to the team. We are expanding the application of our planning tool and partnering with our management to optimize how we deploy our capital. It’s exciting to ask questions about the business and be able to explore those questions.
What are your extracurricular activities?
I swim on a masters team and I ran a half marathon this summer in 1:53. I serve as a trustee and chair of the finance committee at my elementary school alma mater, and I’m an advisor to a start-up in the fin-tech space.
What is the most interesting problem you’re working on solving right now?
We’re working on budgeting for 2018, and projecting returns on the sales and marketing investments we’re looking to make.
Take us through a typical day in the life.
– Review email and news for any market-moving research or releases relevant to MuleSoft. The stock market opens at 9:30am Eastern Time, which is 6:30am Pacific Time, so I do this early.
– Review monthly financial results and work to understand any variances to forecast, so I can understand business trajectory for the quarter and give an update to the CFO.
– Respond to investor inquiries.
– Join a conference with external consultants on our financial planning tool implementation.
– Talk with our Chief Marketing Officer about our go-to-market strategy, so I can get him analysis for planning for next year.
– Have weekly team meetings, to which I invite the head of corporate development to talk with us about M&A and technology partnerships.
What 3 things are always on your desk and why?
- My HP-12C calculator, because once you learn reverse Polish notation, you’ll never go back to the other way.
- Photo of my husband and kids, who keep it all real.
- My binder with updated MuleSoft financials, forecast, metrics, and 10-Q for reference when speaking with investors.
What teams do you work with most, and how do you collaborate?
Pretty much everyone––that’s the great thing about the role. A few callouts: accounting, with whom FP&A is joined at the hip, since we are all working on the company’s financials. Marketing, since we are all thinking about how to drive value to MuleSoft as we expand, and also how to explain the company to others in a compelling way.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your role here so far?
Hiring four amazing professionals and working with colleagues to complete MuleSoft’s IPO.
What is the latest technology you’ve learned to use?
Anaplan, our financial planning tool for budgets and forecast. It’s the “dashboard” for FP&A, as we develop forecasts and understand the results of operations.
What advice have you been given over the course of your career that you practice at MuleSoft?
What you can get right, you should get right. Fix it if it is wrong, even if it’s little, like a spelling error. There’s plenty you will get wrong in your career; promptly fix the items that are fixable, and move on.