Appointment Door - Photo by Dima Pechurin on UnsplashWorkday announced the appointment of Zane Rowe as its new CFO. He will commence the role on June 12th after a transition period working with the current CFO, Barbara Larson. Larson is leaving the company to spend more time with her family.

Rowe will oversee the company’s overall finance and accounting functions, internal audit, investor relations and advise on Workday’s business strategy and product development.

Rowe commented, “I am thrilled to be joining Workday at this exciting time in its growth journey. I have known Aneel, Carl, and many members of the Workday team for a long time and look forward to working with them to continue to drive the company forward.”

Who is Rowe

Zane Rowe, Workday Chief Financial Officer
Zane Rowe, Workday Chief Financial Officer

Rowe joins from VMWare, where he was executive vice president and chief financial officer. He was interim CEO role at VMWare from February 2021 to May 2021. He is the latest senior executive to leave VMWare after Broadcom announced its intent to acquire the company.

Rowe was previously CFO at EMC and United Airlines. Unusually for a CFO, he also led North America Sales for Apple, where he was responsible for the consumer channel and the enterprise and education segments. He began his career in the airline industry, initially at Continental Airlines, rising to CFO and becoming the CFO of United Continental Holdings when the two airlines merged in 2010.

He still has links to the travel industry as he serves on the board of the Sabre Corporation. Rowe obtained his bachelor of science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Since 2010, Rowe has been a member of the Board of Trustees for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He also established the Rowe Endowed Scholarship for business students at the university. Rowe has an MBA from San Diego State University.

What will Rowe bring to Workday?

Rowe brings over 20 years of experience working in both industry, and the software sector. His experience at Apple also shows a diversity unusual in a CFO’s CV. He may also bring a new emphasis on sustainability to the software leader. In a recent interview, he revealed. “I think we’ve reached an inflection point where the definition of leadership is so much broader. For instance, I’m part of A4S, which is Accounting for Sustainability. It’s a number of CFOs that focus on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) efforts.

“And as we were going into the pandemic we were concerned that companies would pull back on their efforts in this area, and what’s happened is the exact reverse. They’ve leaned in because the pandemic has highlighted the need for this broader stakeholder mission.”

It will be interesting to see how this viewpoint influences Workday. In its recent quarterly results announcement, Workday revealed that it had joined Frontier, an advanced market commitment to accelerate carbon removal. Could this have also helped attract Rowe?

Carl Eschenbach, co-CEO, Workday, commented, “Zane’s experience with scaling high-growth organizations, coupled with his deep financial expertise, make him the perfect leader to support Workday’s continued momentum as more and more organizations turn to us to help them navigate the changing world of work. As we look forward, we also extend our deepest gratitude to Barbara for her many contributions, which are felt across the company. We thank her and wish her well in her next chapter.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

It is unusual for Workday to bring an outsider to a senior role. However, there may not have been an obvious replacement for Larson from the existing finance function.  Also, the fact that Rowe is known to both CEOs, was looking to leave VMware and has an excellent resume no doubt influenced the decision.

Rowe is a prime example of how external talent can bring freshness to the Workday culture. It will be interesting to see how he evolves the role and what new initiatives are put in place.


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