10 questions for Entrust CFO David Wagner

Name: David Wagner

Age: 47

Time with company: 15 years

Education: Undergraduate degree in accounting and MBA from Pennsylvania State University

Company headquarters: Dallas

Number of countries: 10

Number of employees total: Approximately 340

Number of employees the CFO oversees: 60

About the company: Entrust is a privately-held company that offers identity-based security software to customers that include 4,000 government agencies and businesses in 60 countries. The website is http://www.entrust.com/index.php

1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?

I actually started in finance as a high school intern. My first job was to transition a company's internal monthly reports from mainframe reports to VisiCalc spreadsheets. I got to where I am today by accepting the job opportunities that allowed me to learn the most. I am a big believer in continual learning. What you can learn is more important than what you make. The money works itself out in the long run.

2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?

My first boss, when I was only 18, was probably the most influential for me. I learned to team with technical people and managers in order to help them focus on financial outcomes. I've also learned great deal from my current CEO, Bill Conner, who is a strong leader.

3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?

I think the biggest challenge is being able to manage change. There is a lot of volatility in the market, and technology is changing quickly. In my career at Entrust alone, we have managed through being a division of a large multinational company, to being a small private company, to going public and back to being private again. Each owner of our business has had different objectives. We have also managed through a transition from being a perpetual software company to a company that earns more than 60 percent of its revenue through subscriptions. It is important to clearly communicate the financial impact of the change to help an organization achieve its goals.

4. What is a good day at work like for you?

A good day is a day when I get to work with the sales team and our customers to create value.

5. How would you characterize your management style?

I hope that I am characterized as empowering, but also as having high expectations for the people on my team.

6. What strengths/qualities do you look for in job candidates?

I really focus on fit. I like to find candidates who will be in a position to do what they do best when they are hired.

7. What are some of your favorite interview questions or techniques to elicit information to determine whether a candidate will be successful at your company?

One of my favorite questions to ask the candidate is to give me specific examples of when they demonstrated a behavior or attribute that I think is critical to their role in our organization. I ask follow-up questions until I am comfortable that I am getting an answer that reflects who the candidate really is and how they really work.

8. What is it about your current job, at this particular company, that sets it apart from other chief finance positions?

Change, the change I mentioned earlier and the fact that what Entrust does -- securing information -- makes a real difference in the world.

9. What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

I'm a runner. I love to run alone and I love to run with friends. When I run alone, I can really think. It provides a great perspective.

10. If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?

I love what I do. I suspect I'd be doing a similar job for another company.

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Tags business managementCFO CareersEntrust

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Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
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