Q&A with Thomas Tuchscherer, TripActions’ New CFO
Earlier this week, tech industry veteran and finance leader Thomas Tuchscherer joined the TripActions team as CFO. Prior to TripActions, Thomas served as CFO at Snowflake, CFO & VP of Corporate Development at Talend, in various leadership roles over product, strategy, operations, and planning at SAP, and as VP of Corporate Development at Cartesis. He also worked at several investment companies earlier in his career, one that spans more than twenty years in roles in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Thomas has a long history and proven track record leading high performance teams to rapidly scale organisations through hyper growth. With 5X YoY growth at TripActions, Thomas is already finding himself right at home. We sat down with Thomas to learn more about him, his experience as a tech CFO and road warrior, and his new role at TripActions.
TripActions: Hi Thomas. Great to meet you and welcome to TripActions. Let’s start off with a little bit about you. What would you say you’re known for?
Thomas Tuchscherer: Professionally, I’m known for scaling hyper growth tech companies. Most recently at Snowflake, we more than tripled our revenue in a single year and during my tenure at Talend, we grew revenues by 20X. Personally, I’m known as a devoted husband, father of three boys, and aspiring triathlete.
TA: Why TripActions?
TT: First and foremost, the people at TripActions are second to none. When I met Ariel and Ilan (TripActions co-founders and CEO and CTO, respectively, pictured below), I immediately saw their passion for the industry, for creating a mission-driven company and culture, and most of all for the user. Every person I met with at TripActions was someone I wanted to work with — people I really wanted to spend more time with as I think about the next phase of my career journey.
Second, I believe in and am familiar with the sector. As a CFO, I’ve always had my eye on travel as one of my largest expense line items. Having used multiple legacy tools throughout my career, the challenge was always a lack of visibility into actual travel spend. Users hated the platforms, they didn’t have the right inventory at the right price, returned results that weren’t relevant, and didn’t account for the user’s loyalty preferences, and as a result, employees booked outside the system.
After leading the selection process for a corporate travel solution at Snowflake and discovering TripActions, I’m thrilled to be joining another organisation that delivers an enterprise platform that users actually love. Because employees want to use TripActions, adoption is incredibly high, giving finance leaders and travel managers the visibility, control, data, and insights they need to optimise their travel programmes and save money. The fact that I no longer have to compromise and finally have the levers to optimise my travel budget based on what’s happening on the world stage, within the economy, and inside my business is huge. And with TripActions, optimising travel budget isn’t at the expense of employee satisfaction. You get both.
Third, TripActions has a massive market opportunity ahead of it and we’re just scratching the surface on how we can transform the business travel industry. Every other part of the business has leveraged tech to drive improvements and efficiencies. Sales drove efficiency at scale with Salesforce, finance and HR via Workday, procurement through Coupa, product development using Atlassian, and marketing with Marketo. But travel has been left behind.
The odd thing is that travel is one of the largest controllable expenses in a CFO’s budget; bigger than the spend in every one of those other departments outside of salaries. Total projected enterprise software spend in 2019 is about $430 billion while corporate travel is expected to come in at about $1.5 trillion. And 86 % of finance leaders don’t think travel spend is managed well. That’s a lot of money on the line and a clear opportunity for innovation.
TA: Why do you think corporate travel has lagged behind all of the other departments you mentioned?
TT: Honestly, until TripActions, we haven’t had a choice. We’ve been stuck with the status quo because there wasn’t anything better. Legacy tools deliver a frustrating booking experience with limited inventory and inconsistent support while nickel and diming clients to death. B2B online booking tools offer clunky UIs and little-to-no traveller support that require unpopular company-wide mandates to drive adoption. And consumer sites fail to deliver the spend visibility, reporting, and analytics we need. Until now, we’ve been held back by antiquated corporate travel management tools.
The good news is that travel managers, CFOs, and C-Suite execs no longer have to sacrifice. We finally have the ability to optimise for a great traveller experience and have visibility and control over spend to save money. We can move to a model that’s purpose built for today with the inventory, personalisation, and travel agents to delight travellers. A model that’s data-driven to provide complete visibility, accuracy, and predictability of spend — and above all that empowers us to adjust the dials to optimise both for the needs in our business.
TA: In your new role as CFO you’ll be responsible for financial planning and analysis, accounting, tax, treasury, investor relations, corporate development, facilities, and more. What’s a typical day in your life look like?
TT: I am a morning person. I usually get up pretty early, around five AM, and try to get in some physical exercise. I’m an aspiring triathlete so I love to go for a swim, run, or bike ride before my work day begins. My first part of the day is spent prioritising what I absolutely must focus on and get done that day. I typically spend early morning on European topics and evenings with Asia Pac as it’s easier to connect with colleagues in their own time zones. I’ll connect with my team and peers throughout the day, working together to resolve issues and remove roadblocks. But the reality is that In a hyper growth environment, there’s no routine and no two days are ever alike.
TA: You’ve been a road warrior throughout your career. How has travel helped you be successful in your role?
TT: I have lived and worked in multiple countries in my professional career, including the US, Canada, England, France, and India. As a result, I’ve learned how to adapt to new cultures and work styles. Face-to-face meetings are critical for success in every business leadership role. Travel broadens your perspective and helps you better understand and work with others, ultimately positioning you to build and improve relationships, make better decisions, and achieve your goals.
TA: Are you a price-led, loyalty-led, or experience-led traveller?
TT: With airlines, I’m loyalty-led and for lodging, I’m experience-led. But as a finance leader, neither are ever at the expense of price.
TA: What’s one thing you can’t travel without?
TT: My Bose noise-cancelling wireless headset.
TA: Favourite work travel destination?
TT: Paris, France. It feels like I’m coming back home because of the familiarity even though it’s been a long time since I’ve lived there.
TA: Favourite leisure travel destination?
TT: Le Touquet on the Northern Coast of France. Every summer, my wife and I spend a week there with our boys. My wife’s entire family gets together there every year in August. Typically there are 35 to 45 of us there. It’s funny: when we take our kids to exotic locations, they always want to go back to Le Touquet because they want to spend time with their cousins.
TA: Aisle or window?
TT: Aisle, unless I get upgraded to Business. Then a window.
TA: Favourite travel hack?
TT: I never, ever check a bag unless I absolutely have to because once you do, you limit your standby flight options in the event the unexpected happens.
TA: Favourite in-flight beverage?
TT: Sparkling water.
Thanks for sharing more about yourself with us, Thomas. We’re thrilled to have you as part of TripActions team. Individuals interested in learning more about career opportunities at TripActions may visit www.tripactions.com/careers.