CFO Patrick Pichette Discusses Google’s Growth and Leadership

Google’s CFO, Patrick Pichette

Since it’s founding in 1995, Google has become one of the most prolific, and possibly one of the most influential, companies in the internet age. But despite growth that most business owners could only fantasize about, Google’s company culture remains relatively…unchanged.

In fact, despite Google’s $36 billion cash reserve, its chief financial officer Patrick Pichette still flies in coach class and replies to each of his individual emails personally. He even rides a bike to work – every single day. Very few people could remain so unchanged by such immense success, yet CFO Patrick Pichette prefers to work as though Google is still a start-up company. The company now earns over $36 billion annually, but Pichette is one of the company’s leaders in maintaining a “start-up” culture.

Understanding How Patrick Pichette Thinks

One of the reasons that Pichette is able to consistently maintain this company culture is that he himself hasn’t gotten caught up in Google’s success. What makes the situation so striking is that as CFO, Pichette understands almost every aspect of Google’s financial health, yet is able to operate as though the business is still in its early stages. Key points that Pichette considers, both daily and in long-term planning, include:

  • Growth. Pichette and the rest of the Google team approaches their work with the intention of changing the world. With such gargantuan goals, the team doesn’t waste their time or efforts on a product unless they can visualize a billion people using it. This approach is what has allowed the company to experience such rapid growth, as top leadership aggressively and strategically moves forward with every operation.
  • Planning. This growth doesn’t magically happen on its own. According to CFO Patrick Pichette, Google’s business model is focused on learning how to monetize knowledge. For instance, knowledge that the mobile market was growing allowed Google to raise the standards.
  • Capital structure. Pichette stresses the need to be familiar with your industry to truly serve as a successful CFO. Pichette named the unexpected yet rapid growth of both Facebook and Netflix as examples of how quickly an industry’s landscape can change, and why companies should be prepared to adapt to such speedy developments.
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