Dec 18, 2022
It was nearly 18 years ago that Icertis CFO Rajat Bahri stepped into the CFO office for the first time.
Thus began a stretch of time that Bahri, not unlike many of his CFO peers, has populated with various distinguished CFO career chapters ranging from 3 to 5 to 8 years in duration.
Still, for Bahri, "18 years" means more than this, as it also represents the amount of time he invested prior to receiving a CFO appointment, making it a worthy touchstone with regard to which we can seek out some thoughtful CFO reflection.
Icertis’s CFO doesn’t disappoint us. It seems that back in 2004, after Bahri had turned the corner on 17 years with Kraft Foods, Inc., he found himself handicapping his CFO prospects for the top job. Certainly, such aspirations were in no way foolhardy on the part of Bahri, who had already served as CFO of Kraft’s high-growth frozen pizza category as well as CFO of Kraft Canada, where he got to double down on his operations experience.
However, Bahri explains, time began to weigh on him: “I could have stayed at Kraft for another 8 to 10 years and gotten the top job, but my thinking was that if I stayed and didn't get it, I could have become stale and it would have been tough to make job changes.”
Of course, this is a quandary that many long-tenured finance executives face annually, not to mention that especially challenges the sense of responsibility of those executives who take pride in being loyal corporate soldiers.
Still, Bahri reports that his decision to exit Kraft was not only a hedge to mitigate the risk of his skill base growing stale but also a step that allowed him to check two new boxes.
“In addition to allowing me to enter a different industry, joining Trimble put me with a publicly traded company,” remarks Bahri, referring to the technology firm that he joined following Kraft and where he would serve as CFO for the next 8½ years.
Says Bahri: “It was a great win-win. Trimble got a guy who was strong operator, and I got my wish to learn IR and how to manage the Street and investors.” –Jack Sweeney