Mark Hawkins.

hand over the reins

Salesforce.com Inc.

The finance function, which has helped a technology company through a period of uninterrupted growth by demonstrating an often rare combination of methodical focus and people skills.

After a 40-year financial career, Mr. Hawkins retired as a sales representative – at a customer management software provider – to broaden his horizons.

Amy Weaver,

former general counsel of the company, will take over as chief financial officer on Monday.

The San Francisco-based company, which has grown to a market capitalization of more than $200 billion in the more than six years Mr. Hawkins has been CFO, agreed in December to buy a collaboration platform provider.

Slack Technologies Inc.

for 27.7 billion dollars. Salesforce is still awaiting regulatory approval for the transaction.

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Hawkins, who will remain as CFO Emeritus at Salesforce until October, is expecting his second grandson and is working with his sons on a book about their afternoon walks and conversations over the years. The 61-year-old CFO said he wanted to spend more time with his family after decades of holding executive positions with an increasing workload, as the role of CFO has become increasingly strategic throughout his career.

I think the role has changed a lot, Hawkins said, adding that today’s CFOs have to deal with a wider range of issues than in the past, including environmental, social and governance issues. CFOs are no longer just counting peas. They also play a key role in developing business strategies as their companies face changing consumer preferences, technological change and increasing shareholder pressure.

A coronavirus pandemic has been added to the list of things to do, and companies need to raise billions of dollars to strengthen their balance sheets, cut jobs and rebuild their businesses for the post-Covid-19 era. Everyone in the world has had to change, and the CFO is going through the same experience, Hawkins said. It’s an important and difficult job.

According to former colleagues, Mr. Hawkins is compiling an extensive list of the people he will meet in person, and his schedule is set for the entire year. He made notes and six months later he leafed through them and said: We talked about it.

Debbie Clifford,

CFO

SurveyMonkey

who worked under Mr. Hawkins when he was CFO of a software and services company.

Autodesk Inc.

According to Clifford, such a structure helped her former boss be effective even as her responsibilities increased. Mark was always looking for the next hill, she says. Hawkins presented a long-term plan for Autodesk’s and Salesforce’s financial organizations, as well as ideas on how to achieve the goals in two, three or five years, according to former colleagues.

Mr. Hawkins said he is still looking for a model. It’s about recognizing role models, being whole in what you do, he said. He has analyzed and solved complex problems, such as the transition to a subscription model at Autodesk, by breaking them down and solving them. One of her mottos is: Do better, do better, never.

Sue Savage, Finance Director of Blue Lander

Photo:

Blue Distance

Every time he found something that worked, he thought about how to take it further, says Sue Savage, chief financial officer of software company Blue Yonder Group and a former colleague of Hawkins at Autodesk.

When Salesforce announced Mr. Hawkins’ planned resignation during its earnings call on 1… In December, the CEO announced

Mark Benioff

Said: Mark, you’ve laid the groundwork by adding: We all know it takes an excellent CFO to make a company this big.

Bret Taylor,

the company’s chief executive, said Hawkins was a stabilizing force in the sales department. There’s a lot of intentional chaos when a company is growing as fast as we are, Taylor said in an interview.

During his career, Mr. Hawkins has also held the position of Group Controller for

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Vice President Finance of Dell Technologies Inc. and Chief Financial Officer of the software company.

Logitech International SA

.

At Salesforce, Hawkins provided investors with additional information and insight, said Mark Moerdler, senior analyst at Bernstein Research. Mark has done a very good job of communicating more with the street, Murdler said.

Amy Weaver takes over as CFO of Salesforce on Monday.

Photo:

SALESFORCE.COM

Ms. Weaver, Mr. Hawkins’ successor in sales, described him as uncomfortable and able to work in difficult situations, such as B. closing a deal during a corporate event and not having a suitable location to work. A Volkswagen Passat owned by Mrs. Weaver’s son once served as a temporary office while they worked together in a business.

Mr. Hawkins resolved the conflict without too much drama, according to his former colleagues. He said to focus on the work, not complicated people and personalities, Clifford said.

Former colleagues recall a skill that not all financial executives possess: the ability to remember names and communicate with people on a personal level.

Catherine Lesiak,

the former CFO of HP Inc., is the card that Mr. Hewitt used to send him. Hawkins sent his daughter when she left Salesforce to go to business school. I think it’s a little unusual, Lesiak said. CFOs sometimes lack more flexible skills.

Mr Hawkins is the founder of the US arm of Accounting for Sustainability, a Prince of Wales initiative to make business strategies and processes more sustainable. He also runs marathons.

We’ve come a long way, Hawkins said of his sales experience, pointing to the increase in headcount from 16,000 to 54,000 when he joined the team. I think it’s always about the team, he said.

-Aaron Tilley contributed to this article.

Please email Nina Trentmann at Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com.

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