CPO Focus

Chief People Officer strengthens corporate culture at FinancialForce

Heather Gille was appointed Chief People Officer at FinancialForce in 2021. Zoya Malik spoke to her about her remit and commitment to strengthening HR practices and deepening corporate culture

Heather Gille
Chief People Officer, FinancialForce

Zoya Malik: What attracted you to FinancialForce?
Heather Gille: I was inspired to join FinancialForce due to the company’s amazing products, strong culture, seasoned & humble leaders and the ability to make a difference. I am particularly excited about the many recent successes FinancialForce has seen with awards such as the Salesforce Innovator of the Year Award, IDC CSAT Award for SaaS ERP and SaaS Subscription Billing, and being named the #1 vendor for professional services automation (PSA) in G2's Winter 2022 Overall, Enterprise, and Mid-Market PSA Grid Reports. FinancialForce was also named the most adopted PSA solution for the third year in a row in the annual PS Maturity™ Benchmark published in 2021 by SPI Research and TSIA named FinancialForce the #1 installed solution for PSA. The company is poised for amazing things in the near future, as we prepare for the next phase of growth.

ZM: What is the role of a Chief People Officer?
The Chief People Officer oversees managing the people strategy and processes related to talent. The role reports into the CEO and sits on the Executive team. We optimise people-centred activities such as hiring, training, professional development, and performance management to ensure these efforts support the company’s growth and bottom line. Working with the organisation to continue to develop a well-defined company culture is a key role of the CPO. The Chief People Officer’s job is to bring this culture to fruition through strategic programs and initiatives.

ZM: Why is this role important now? What’s being invested to support this role?
HG: As the company launches into the next phase of growth, it’s critical that the CPO establish a strong people strategy to allow us to attract, retain and reward high-performing and engaged employees. The CPO brings strategic alignment between how we want to operate and our company values to ensure we achieve a state of operating at that deemed goal. The CPO brings strategic alignment between the “how” we want to operate in our company values to ensure we achieve a state of operating at that deemed goal. We have a cross-functional global team of HR experts that sit on the department leadership teams to remain aligned and contribute to their people strategies.

ZM: What skills do you bring to the role?
I spent the first 10 years of my career in the business, which allows me to understand the intersections with the customer, especially as we think about programme adoption. The last 15 years were focused on rotating through different specialties (talent acquisition, learning & development, global operations, mergers & acquisitions) to prepare me for the CPO role. My experiences gave me global diversity in the US, Canada, China, Japan, UK, France, Germany, and India markets.

My strategic focus is two-fold: high engagement with our teams/clients and keeping the role of HR simple and easy to navigate. I believe deeply in listening, promoting transparency and ongoing connection – I want to win hearts and minds with our transformation.

ZM: How will you work with management to roll out a strategy and policies going forward in 2022?
As we evaluate the programmes and offerings at FinancialForce, we will develop a talent strategy in support of the business’s growth into new markets and territories. We will evaluate how we train, assess and reward our talent.

That starts with a listening campaign to identify where the function shows up strong and where we need to improve. We will then make strategic investments in our people teams and in robust technologies to transform our programmes and offerings, in support of the business needs.

I want to invest in the latest technologies to free up time for our teams to innovate, analyse and drive better decisions.

ZM: What initiatives are you putting in place from your department? What are the objectives and goals?
With hybrid and remote work established, there is a huge opportunity to change the way of human capital management to maintain productivity and a high level of interpersonal connection. We will evaluate the technologies and techniques used to keep people connected and engaged and look to keep what makes FinancialForce such a fun place to work!

As we grow to over 1,000 people worldwide, we will be evaluating every part of the function to ensure we are scaling as the business grows.

ZM: How will you measure the delivery of these objectives to evaluate success?
We’ll measure retention and engagement. Our annual engagement survey will be an important vehicle to test the productivity of how we operate – everything from our communication practices to our processes and tools. Hearing and connecting directly with the employee base about their belief in our company vision and long-term strategy is an important validation regarding their engagement and belief in the leaders.