Tech Leadership and Innovation

Anaplan CEO plots next steps

Serial CFO Frank Calderoni stepped up to become CEO at business planning pioneer Anaplan and is reaping rewards

Anaplan barn

Leave a door open in a draughty British home and you’re likely to hear the rhetorical yelled enquiry “Were you born in a barn?!” Oddly enough, Anaplan actually was born in a barn, having first been developed in a barn conversion near York in northern England. But today it’s anything but a rural dream, having built a market cap of over $9bn and changed the face of business planning along the way.

Frank Calderoni is CEO of the company with British founder Michael Gould no longer intimately involved in operations. Calderoni took the reins almost five years ago, having previously served as CFO of Red Hat, Cisco and other industry luminaries. Three years after its IPO, Anaplan is riding high, growing by about a third year on year and seeing many plaudits for Calderoni. His success is particularly notable, given that this was his first time in the CEO seat but Calderoni joins the dots between what Anaplan does and his own career.

“I was in CFO roles at companies and I saw the challenges they and others had in planning,” he says over a video call from Anaplan’s San Francisco offices. “Connected planning was still in the early stages but it’s been [critical] as companies have tried to be more flexible and make quick decisions.”

That need for speed was only accentuated by the pandemic and Calderoni cites Shell and its CIO Jay Crotts as an example of a company that was able to accelerate and become more advanced in terms of its visibility and ability to see around the curve. But all too often companies continue to labour under the weight of Microsoft Excel and stitched-together tools that aren’t fit for purpose, he argues.

“Many companies have continued to leverage spreadsheets and as a result they haven’t looked at their end-to-end processes … a lot is done in silos and is not effective. With the rate of change today, they can’t depend on that any longer. I talk to a lot of CIOs and CFOs are embarrassed and realise they have to change.”

As a former CFO, was he in the same camp? He was…

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