Executive Spotlight: Annie Pham, authID Chief Financial Officer
Senior finance leader Annie Pham recently joined authID as Chief Financial Officer. She brings more than 20 years of financial expertise to our team, including experience in a key finance leadership role at a Fortune 500 company and across the technology industry, where she scaled teams and built the infrastructure to support billions of dollars in revenue growth. Annie led multiple equity raises, and played a key role in integrating multi-billion-dollar acquisitions and mergers.
Annie began her career as an auditor at Ernst & Young and worked in several public accounting firms, including Deloitte in Silicon Valley. Most recently, she served as vice president and chief accounting officer at SonicWall, where she built a finance team from ground up after the company’s spin-off from Dell/Quest. At Avago (now Broadcom) Annie played a key financial role in the $6.6 billion acquisition of LSI, Inc.
Following Annie’s first authID quarterly earnings meeting on August 9th, we sat down with Annie to discuss her career, why she’s excited about cybersecurity and technology, and how more organizations can support women leaders.
Q: With your extensive finance experience, how did you know you wanted your next role to be as a CFO?
Pham: With my experience at SonicWall and other roles in my career, I felt that I have accomplished a lot. When I started at SonicWall, we were just a small finance team spun off from Dell with only three employees without any systems or processes. So, I had to build the team, implement SonicWall ERP system and create policies and processes for SonicWall finance. The first two years were tough.
Now SonicWall has a world-class accounting team of approximately 30, and, after a substantial amount of progress in only five years including multiple refinancing rounds and supporting the Company’s growth, I felt good about where I had taken the organization. I also felt I’d learned as much as I could and thought: “I need something else; I need another challenge.” And I knew I was ready to be a CFO.
Q: How did you know authID was the right opportunity for you?
Pham: When I met Tom Thimot, authID’s CEO, we got along immediately. I could see from our early conversations that he was genuinely interested in supporting my professional advancement, and he set a very collegial tone for the organization. Tom is a good mentor to his leadership team and wants each of us to rise to reach our potential. You also can only be as good as your team, and I very much believe in this team.
I also think cybersecurity is finally getting the priority it requires. The industry is in an incredible growth mode. Cybercriminals are targeting all industries, and the potential for workforce disruption and supply chain compromise is so great. We at authID can partner with enterprises to mitigate these risks, which is very exciting.
Q: You’ve worked in the technology sector your entire career – what makes it so appealing to you?
Pham: Technology is fascinating and has been such a force for growth and change in business and in our society at large. Much of my career has been spent in the semiconductor industry, a mission-critical business. But today, it’s an industry that is unfortunately having significant challenges, mainly due to supply chain disruptions. However, companies that have built SaaS-based businesses models, including authID, have been able to thrive in this economy in the last several years.
I think technology is key in everyone’s life, more so now than ever. COVID has really accelerated this focus as has our increased reliance on the Internet. In turn, the increased demand for mobile services and increased rates of remote work is driving a great need for enhanced enterprise security.
Q: What are some of the areas you plan to focus on as you help lead authID?
Pham: Of course, compliance is an important part of my role, but I also want to focus on helping the company excel. I’ll be calling on my past experiences in rapid growth environments, to help guide my decisions about what processes we need to implement and how we need to be thinking about the financial infrastructure to achieve our objectives.
Part of succeeding in uncertain economic times is having controls in place and ensuring the organization has sufficient capital to stay the course, while we all wait to see how the economy plays out. At authID we’ll be focused on continuing to invest in a manner that is prudent, but also supports the company’s growth goals.
In these early weeks, I’ve adopted a mode of learning and listening. I want to be as supportive as I can of the research & development, marketing, and sales teams so they can meet their goals. I see myself in a very collaborative role along with the rest of the leadership team.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
Pham: I didn’t use to be a runner at all, but when I moved to Austin, Texas I ran my first 5K earlier this year and together with a group of friends, raised over $5000 for Universal Angels Networks, a non-profit organization in Austin. The organization used this money to support two underprivileged female students to study nursing in Uganda. And I have signed up for the half-marathon next year. So that’s my next personal challenge, to run a half-marathon in February 2023 and raise money for a good cause.
I also love to travel and experience different foods and cultures. I’m from Vietnam, went to school in Australia, and traveled quite a bit in my career. Vietnam is one of my favorite places to go because I have family there, and the beaches are beautiful. My next dream, maybe after my youngest is done with high school, is to live in Europe. I’ve also lived in a lot of different places. I lived in the Bay Area for 17 years before moving to Austin last year. I’ve always been willing to move anywhere! I’m very open to change – in fact I embrace it.
Q: It’s pretty rare to have a CFO in the technology industry who is female much less a woman of color. What advice would you have for other women who want to reach this leadership level in the tech sector?
Pham: I have a story about that. Early in my career, I had an experience where I was not considered for a promotion when the opportunity became available. My boss at the time realized the mistake after the person he hired for the job was not the right fit, and eventually promoted me. I’m glad he was willing to revisit his decision, and maybe even realize the need to correct any subconscious biases. I also realized how important it is to be part of a team that affirms and rewards all talents.
Certainly, women have come a long way, and we still have a long way to go to gain parity with men. A lot more women in the field of finance are qualified to be CFO, CAO, or CEO. Some women don’t think they have it in them. So, my advice to women would be to find a good mentor, and for good leaders, my advice would be to take on the role of mentor and encourage women on their professional journeys.
And that’s what I found in authID–a CEO and leadership team that demands that there be a diverse employee base and fosters a supportive environment. I mean, we all know the statistics about how diversity and inclusion make for better decisions and more successful companies.
This is just one more area where I’m excited for the future at authID.