In this episode of the Business Excelleration® Podcast, What does it take to create a Digital World Class Global Business Services organization? A discussion with Juniper Networks EVP and CFO Ken Miller about their amazing transformation journey. With The Hackett Group Director Siobhan Riggott and Advisory Principal Martijn Geerling.
Welcome to The Hackett Group’s “Business Excelleration Podcast,” where week after week we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. This episode is hosted by Martijn Geerling, managing director and Advisory practice leader at The Hackett Group Europe. Together, with his colleague Siobhan Riggott, today’s episode features a conversation with Ken Miller, executive vice president and CFO of Juniper Networks. He shares the secret of success in Juniper Networks’ global business services (GBS) and finance.
Juniper Networks is one of the most exciting technology companies in Silicon Valley today, with over 10,000 employees in 50 countries and over $5 billion annual revenue. They are a global leader in the artificial intelligence (AI) network, cloud and connected security solutions. Ken has been with Juniper for over 34 years and has held various roles within the company. Since 2016, he has had the honor to be chief financial officer (CFO). Juniper’s finance team is made up of about 500 individuals in an employee network of nearly 11,000. Ken explains that they do traditional accounting, tax and treasury, alongside traditional finance functions such as corporate financial planning and analysis, business partnering, and supporting go-to market finance, business units and more. In short, it is a comprehensive CFO organization that supports Juniper Networks.
Listen as Ken unpacks the challenges faced within finance and how he has evolved finance functions during his last eight years in his current role. Over the last several decades, finance has drastically changed. It is no longer just a back-office function, but now is more of a business ownership function. This means partnering with and owning business transformation. They do not stop at integration, but take it all the way through to results to determine what outcomes they are getting and why. Finance plays a key role in making sure this happens outside of mergers and acquisitions.
Ken shares that Juniper Networks – as a network – takes advantage of digitization by selling to enterprises that are digitizing their network, operations and more. As an entity themselves, they are focused on improving processes and systems, automating where possible, and embracing effectiveness and efficiencies. Juniper leads the way in this effort as more and more opportunities to digitize are realized. This includes how they engage with customers, partners, vendors and more. Because of budget constrictions, not all great ideas are going to be able to be executed. This means there will always be a prioritization process and return on investment analysis to determine the projects that will move the needle furthest. Juniper refers to their own prioritizations every quarter to make sure they are doing the right thing. Ken believes that what holds some companies back the most is not budget constraints but complacency. Employees who don’t want to evolve and are too comfortable with what they are doing are a major enemy of the enterprise. Proudly, Juniper does not have that problem because their employees are excited about evolution. The willingness to learn and change is crucial for any successful enterprise.
Next, Siobhan asks Ken about the GBS organization within Juniper’s finance function and how it has evolved over time. As a Digital World Class organization, Juniper has embraced innovation, talent and GBS. The GBS organization is approximately 350 of Juniper’s 500 finance employees and is the majority of Ken’s organization. Juniper began their GBS team in 2005 as a small team focused on transactional services. Now, they own those services end to end and have moved to more front-end business partnering jobs. They have earned trust as they continue to execute and deliver, which then snowballs into more opportunities for value-added work. Transforming themselves into a Digital World Class level, GBS has been taken to the business partnering level rather than just a back-office support level. Ken believes that GBS is a very key element in the secret to Juniper’s success overall. Their success begins with leadership and employee engagement.
In closing, Ken looks toward the future of GBS and identifies generative AI as the next big frontier for opportunity. He expects GBS to continue to be on the forefront of innovation by staying current, pushing the envelope and continuing to innovate. While GBS will continue to work on their back-office responsibilities as efficiently as possible, they will continue to take on more business partnering over time.
- 0:49 – Welcome to this episode hosted by Martijn Geerling.
- 1:42 – Introducing Juniper Networks.
- 3:47 – The challenges within the finance function.
- 5:50 – How does digitization play out in finance?
- 7:20 – The challenges of talent and development.
- 10:20 – Achievements of Juniper Networks.
- 13:51 – Secrets to the success of GBS.
- 17:00 – Looking toward the future of GBS.