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AttackIQ’s Danielle Murcray on guiding a tech startup through a pandemic

July 19, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning. This is Fortune’s Rey Mashayekhi, filling in again for Sheryl today.

As CFO of a fast-growing cybersecurity startup, Danielle Murcray finds herself wearing a lot of different hats—not that she’s complaining.

“I think a lot of times, CFOs are seen as being behind the scenes, and that’s never really been me or my personality,” Murcray tells Fortune. In addition to running financial and accounting operations for Silicon Valley cybersecurity firm AttackIQ, Murcray has a broad purview that involves helming human resources, talent acquisition, and field operations, among other tasks. “It’s actually one of my favorite things about my job—to get out of the mundane accounting and finance side of things and actually work with people. I personally love it.”

While she notes that such a varied role isn’t all that atypical for a C-suite executive at an eight-year-old, 115-person startup like AttackIQ, it’s been a whole different kind of challenge amid an unprecedented pandemic—one that broke out and wreaked havoc upon the global economy only five months after she joined the company in October 2019. 

But Murcray has looked to rise to the challenge, leading outreach efforts to the firm’s global workforce (AttackIQ has teams of engineers in Spain and Argentina) and making sure the company would be prepared for a whole multitude of scenarios. “In the past, I would always run three business models: worst case, most likely case, and best case,” she says. “And I probably ran about 30 different scenario planning models in the first four-to-five months of [the pandemic]. It was unprecedented, and something that I had never done before.” 

No longer could the firm run a routine budgeting process that could be rolled forward, quarter-by-quarter, on a relatively consistent basis. “There was just so much going on, and we didn’t know what our customers were going to buy,” she notes. “The team has budgeted an entire budget cycle almost every single quarter. It’s just crazy, and something you’ve never seen before as a CFO.”

Yet working alongside CEO Brett Galloway and the rest of AttackIQ’s executive team, Murcray has helped shepherd the startup through the pandemic and seen it emerge in an even stronger position. Just last week, the company announced a $44 million in a Series C funding round led by investors including Atlantic Bridge and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, and it plans to deploy that capital to continue its growth in a red-hot cybersecurity market.

“This is really a great space to be in right now,” Murcray says. “It’s really just a matter of continuing to grow and continuing to get our name out there,” with AttackIQ especially eyeing a “huge growth opportunity” via international expansion in the coming years.

In the meantime, she’s embracing her role as the company’s de facto chief people officer, in which she’s guided AttackIQ’s transition into a fully remote enterprise in the U.S. during the pandemic. The native Californian now works out of her home in Montana, where she recently bought a property, and Murcray believes that providing today’s in-demand tech talent with a flexible, employee-focused workplace culture is crucial to attracting and retaining their services. She says that in the last month or so alone, she’s seen “probably four or five changes of state come across” her desk from employees moving from one part of the country to another.

“I think for all startups, culture is something that really needs to be focused on, because you’re competing for talent with very large corporations,” she says. “You have to be able to set yourself apart; you can’t always give them more money, because Google is going to outshine you every single time from a money perspective, so you have to offer them something else… So people are taking advantage of the fact that we’ve gone remote and that they can work anywhere.”


That’s all from me; Sheryl will be back with you tomorrow. Until next time, have a wonderful day.

Rey Mashayekhi
@reym12
rey.mashayekhi@fortune.com

Big deal

A new survey from S&P Global Market Intelligence took the pulse of roughly 500 key IT decision makers across a range of industries, and found that an overwhelming majority (90%) were either “somewhat or very optimistic” about their companies’ prospects in 2021. But that optimism comes in the wake of an exceptionally challenging 2020, as nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said their businesses faced either “moderate or major disruption” as a result of the pandemic—with a quarter, or 25%, falling into the “major disruption” category. The survey also documented “widespread reinvention in how many of these businesses will operate going forward,” with 76% reporting that their organizations have experienced “moderate to significant transformation in ways of working” since the beginning of 2020.

 

Going deeper

Friday saw the unveiling of this year’s edition of Fortune’s 100 Best Large Workplaces for Millennials, done in conjunction with our longstanding research partner Great Place to Work. You can see who made the list yourself (spoiler alert: Cisco took the top spot for the second year running), and also check out this insightful article from GPTW’s Claire Hastwell that examined how gender equity, robust benefits, and a flexible workplace model are key considerations for today’s millennial workforce.

Leaderboard

Travis Marquette has stepped down as EVP and CFO of Ross Stores, the department store retailer, effective July 14. Marquette has accepted the role of president and COO of Burlington Stores, another department store retailer, effective October. Ross Stores said its senior finance executives will report to group president and COO Michael Hartshorn, with the company planning to announce finance leadership changes “in the coming months.”

Carl Giesler Jr. was named EVP and CFO of Southwestern Energy Company, a natural gas producer, effective July 19. He succeeds interim CFO Michael Hancock, who will continue with the company as VP of finance and treasurer. Giesler most recently served as president and CEO of SandRidge Energy.

Overheard

“People are out there starting to spend... It really feels like people are beginning to get back to a more normal life in a lot of ways. There’s still a lot of risk out there in terms of what could potentially happen, but it looks pretty promising.”

Wells Fargo CFO Mike Santomassimo, providing an optimistic outlook on the U.S. economic recovery in an interview with Bloomberg.

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