LEADERS Interview
Frank Calderoni, Anaplan

Frank Calderoni

Breakout Business Performance

Editors’ Note

Frank Calderoni is the Chief Executive Officer of Anaplan and the Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. He is a technology industry veteran with over 30 years of successful executive leadership. He also spent more than a decade at Cisco, during which he was named one of the best CFOs of 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Institutional Investor and CFO of the Year by the San Francisco Business Times in 2015. Prior to Cisco, Calderoni held senior leadership roles at QLogic Corporation and SanDisk Corporation. Earlier in his career, he spent 21 years at IBM. Calderoni previously served on the board of Palo Alto Networks and currently serves on the board of Adobe Systems, Inc. He earned a BSc in accounting and finance from Fordham University and an MBA from Pace University.

Company Brief

Anaplan (anaplan.com) is a transformative way to see, plan, and run a business. Using its proprietary Hyperblock™ technology, Anaplan lets clients contextualize current performance in real-time, and forecast future outcomes for faster, confident decisions. Anaplan believes that connecting strategy and plans to execution and results across the enterprise is required to move business forward today. Based in San Francisco, Anaplan has 20 offices globally, 175 partners and more than 1,700 customers worldwide.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of Anaplan and how the business has evolved?

Unlike most San Francisco-based tech firms, our roots aren’t in Silicon Valley. The concept for Anaplan was born in a converted barn in Yorkshire, England, in 2006. The company’s name is a combination of the words “analysis” and “planning.”’ In 2008, Anaplan patented Hyperblock®, the technology that creates Anaplan’s single modeling environment for various business lanes. That’s the revolutionary software feature that enables our modelers to explore and implement change in minutes. However, in that same year, Anaplan was incorporated, and its headquarters opened in San Francisco. In October of 2018, the company went public and is listed on the NYSE.

Today, Anaplan is recognized, most recently by Gartner, as having pioneered next-generation strategic planning and performance management – delivering essential connected planning capability that drives future value creation by linking financial and operational plans to grow revenue, expand margins, optimize assets and manage risk. We are transforming how more than 1,700 leading global companies see, plan and run their businesses.

How do you define the Anaplan advantage and what differentiates the company in the industry?

Complexity and change have outgrown and outpaced static planning and siloed systems. At Anaplan, we believe connecting strategy and plans to execution and results dynamically across your enterprise is not just the future; it’s required for leaders to drive business forward, today. Anaplan is a transformative way to see, plan and run your business. You can view and contextualize current performance in real-time and predictively forecast and model future outcomes for faster, confident decisions. As situations change, you’ll be ready to rapidly pivot strategies, redeploy resources, and optimize plans for growth, efficiency and demand.

Imagine your teams not just navigating and surviving, but thriving, amid constant volatility so you can overcome obstacles and seize opportunities you see right now and the ones you could never see coming. Anaplan defines the future of breakout business performance.

“We are transforming how more than 1,700 leading global companies see, plan and run their businesses.”

Will you provide an overview of Anaplan’s services and solutions?

Anaplan helps global businesses accelerate revenue growth, expand margins, optimize assets and manage risk by connecting financial and operational plans. We’ve built a Cloud-native, SaaS platform deployed on public and private clouds to run complex global businesses across retail, financial services, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications, and life sciences and healthcare. Anaplan solutions help our customers realize the promise of digital transformation with real-time insight, predictive forecasting, and continuous modeling of the link between operational and financial plans to respond to ever-changing market conditions. From the central office to the farthest reaches of an enterprise – factory floor, retail outlets, regional subsidiaries – teams can access a single source of real-time truth and make confident decisions to drive ideal business outcomes. We offer solutions for finance, sales, marketing, supply chain, HR and IT.

While Anaplan is an industry leader, it is not a household name. Is brand awareness important for Anaplan or are you more focused on awareness within your client base?

We are working on both. We have a brand awareness campaign running, but we also focus on potential customers. These days, people are making choices about what to buy and from whom – driven not only by product or service quality, but also by whose values align with their own. When I talk to our customers, they tell me they chose Anaplan because our enterprise executives took the time to thoroughly evaluate their operations, discover the root of their problems, and demonstrate our platform solutions. They feel good about doing business with us. I believe that’s a direct result of the culture at the foundation of Anaplan’s brand.

Our customers not only choose us, but they also often come to be our spokespeople, even working with us to close new deals. It’s one of the things I’ve learned in my many years in business. Having shared values motivates people to buy your product, advocate for your service and invest in your company. Serving our customers, employees, shareholders and communities is our priority which increases brand value and awareness.

“Given the enormous competition for talent that many organizations now face, embracing diversity and inclusion can ensure competitive advantage and sustained growth. That’s why we sponsor Anaplan For All, a free program run by Correlation One,
that recruits and trains underrepresented
people in Anaplan modeling.”

How did Anaplan adapt the way it works to address the challenges caused by the pandemic and how proud are you to see the resilience of your team during this unprecedented time?

When we suddenly had to go virtual in March 2020, Anaplan ensured our employees had the resources to continue doing their best work. We offered a stipend to purchase home office equipment and a monthly allowance for phone and Internet service. Then, when we realized how hungry our people were for information, I increased the frequency of my company-wide virtual meetings. During the sessions, employees were encouraged to ask me anything. It’s all part of an effort to ensure our people feel connected and supported.

We promoted company-sponsored mental health initiatives, created a flexible work program that allowed employees to reduce their work hours, and started offering well-being days which are paid rest and recovery days meant to prevent burnout. I am incredibly proud of how our workforce responded to our leadership and support. Instead of merely maintaining productivity, Anaplan saw an increase.

Then, when our people settled into a work-from-home pattern, they turned their attention and creativity to help others. They worked with our extended Anaplan community to launch Anaplan Helps, a program that offers free access to our planning platform for 90 days to organizations facing challenges related to COVID-19. Within a month of the program’s launch in May 2020, we saw an 80 percent increase in downloads which was the most we’d seen in over three years. I could see how they made a difference because the most downloaded apps were Anaplan’s Workforce Planning, Hospital Staffing Model and Emergency Supply Chain Response Tracker.

I think that’s a clear demonstration of our team’s resiliency and what it means to have upstanding corporate character.

How critical is it for Anaplan to build a diverse and inclusive workforce?

A diverse and inclusive workforce is essential for Anaplan and every organization to reach its potential. We fundamentally believe every person here should be empowered to be themselves and do their best work. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also a good and practical business decision – innovation, collaboration, creativity and customer experience are all more powerful when driven from varied perspectives. Given the enormous competition for talent that many organizations now face, embracing diversity and inclusion can ensure competitive advantage and sustained growth. That’s why we sponsor Anaplan For All, a free program run by Correlation One, that recruits and trains underrepresented people in Anaplan modeling. Our first cohort graduated 45 fellows in June 2021, and since Anaplan modelers are in such high demand, many quickly secured jobs either with one of our many partners or us. Our second cohort is training now.

Additionally, gender parity is a business priority for Anaplan. That’s why we signed the Paradigm for Parity pledge in 2019. Using the Anaplan platform, we’ve achieved pay parity across the organization at every company level from top to bottom.

I want to make sure we hear every voice in our organization and that those voices are representative of the world around us. Gender and race are just some of those areas. It’s equally essential to have viewpoints from various backgrounds, cultures, nationalities, LGBTQ+ individuals, the neuro-diverse, and non-binary or non-gender conforming people. I think everyone has something to contribute, and the more voices you listen to, the better off you are. I want Anaplan to enjoy the dividends that diversity brings.

What do you see as Anaplan’s responsibility to the communities it serves and to being a force for good in society?

It is critical for every organization to reflect the communities it serves and have a positive impact on those communities. At Anaplan, we give our employees the time and space to be active members of their local communities. We’ve had open dialogue at company meetings and town halls about some of the challenging issues facing our society today, such as systemic racial injustice and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their personal and work lives.

To that end, we’ve worked to identify obstacles, develop solutions and execute strategies that will make a difference within our organization. I believe a company defines success by its financial performance and role in making the world a better place.

What interested you in writing your new book, Upstanding, and what are the key messages you wanted to convey through the book?

I’ve always wanted to share a business strategy that I’m passionate about, creating an Upstanding corporate character. As I mention in the book, when the pandemic hit 18 months ago, followed by a global recession and social unrest, it put corporate character in the spotlight. In the past, being professional meant not discussing personal opinions not related to the business. However, that era is gone, and today, stakeholders hold companies accountable for their positions on societal, environmental and governance issues. So, with all the change happening, the timing felt right, and I wrote the book to share my insights and best practices from those I admire and respect.

How do you define the keys to effective leadership?

In my opinion, influential leaders are the ones who can listen, interpret new information and adapt. One of the latest tools I learned during the pandemic was the importance of having empathy. To me, this meant listening and asking questions to understand someone else’s point of view. This was especially useful as we were all forced overnight to work from home full time. You have your own experiences, but the people you work with may have a different reality they’re dealing with. It’s up to each of us, as leaders, to understand other points of view. In the end, you may not draw the same conclusions, but seeking to understand is a way of showing you care. The second key to effective leadership was the advice my father taught me when I was much younger: to be persistent and always strive to do your best.

What advice do you offer to young people interested in a career in the industry?

There are multiple paths to success. Do what you’re passionate about, then demonstrate that capability to a potential employer. Talent can come from anywhere, and we at Anaplan are working to remove what once was a typical barrier to entry in the industry. Once you’re in, I encourage everyone to approach their work and every interaction as an opportunity to learn. This is a tool that will serve you well throughout your career.