For Ida Kane, the Chief Financial Officer at software company AppFolio, Inc., leading doesn’t just mean motivating the team, but rather creating an environment that enables everyone to thrive and flourish.
Ascribing to the belief that she takes a supporting role to her team and the broader organization, Kane focuses on creating an environment that enables people to excel.
“I believe my role as a leader is to create the right opportunities and environment to allow individuals to push themselves forward and to supplement that with lots of encouragement and support,” said Kane in a recent interview with The SaaS Report.
It has paid off for the executive. As CFO of AppFolio, she is responsible for the overall financial strategy of the organization, including M&A. Her team works closely across the company to ensure AppFolio remains focused on the long-term amid fast-paced growth.
When it comes to creating a self-motivating, highly productive organization, Kane said hiring the right people is a big part of the equation. Understanding that each individual will impact the company’s culture and customers, she takes recruitment seriously. “I encourage my leaders to take time up front to make sure we find the right person for the role and for our company,” she said. Beyond creating a solid team, Kane added that it's important to understand the individual and build a trusting relationship. Motivation works in different ways for different people. Understanding what drives the individual almost guarantees success. “Building a relationship and understanding team members on a personal level is imperative,” said Kane. “Transparent and consistent communication is key and I strive to keep a tight feedback loop with my team. A high-trust environment is invaluable, especially given the nature of the work we do in Finance partnering with the business to grow.”
She is a huge advocate of setting clear goals and removing barriers. Appropriately established goals keep the team focused and aligned and is something Kane spends a lot of time on. “Regular conversations help me understand what barriers may be preventing my team from achieving our goals,” she said. “My role is to coach and support them through those barriers in order to achieve our goals.” But Kane doesn’t stop there. She holds the entire organization to a high standard of goal setting and execution. “I love helping the organization set appropriate and challenging goals then partnering throughout the business to help achieve them,” she said.
Those attributes served her when she came on board in 2015 at AppFolio and was immediately challenged with developing and leading the company’s initial public offering that ultimately culminated just months after she started. Challenging to say the least, but having the right team and support system enabled the company to succeed.
As for her advice to aspiring women leaders in technology, Kane said to find a mentor and be a mentor. It's also important to embrace change as the tech industry is always evolving. “Pick a great company and boss rather than aim for a very specific role or position,” said Kane. “Raise your hand for the tough assignments and be open to challenging yourself with new opportunities.”