Communicate the Story Behind the Numbers: Q2’s David Mehok

"I try to err on the side of over-communication for everything outside of sensitive information."

David Mehok, CFO of Q2 Holdings, a provider of cloud-based banking solutions, has worn many hats throughout his career. In shuffling roles and duties through finance in technology, Mehok’s career path has allowed him to experience corporate finance through a tech-inspired lens.

Now with Q2 for just over two years, Mehok has combined his skills in finance with a passion for fintech, which has brought him personal satisfaction and company success. Since Mehok’s arrival, Q2 has launched its embedded finance platform Helix, partnered with Rocket Mortgage, acquired Sensibill, and even obtained the naming rights to Austin FC’s stadium (Major League Soccer) in Texas. Whether it’s corporate partnerships, M&A, or building new products, Mehok’s hands have been full since joining Q2.

David Mehok.jpg

David Mehok

CFO, Q2 Holdings

  • First CFO position: 2014
  • Notable previous companies:
    • Epicor Software
    • CLEAResult
    • Dell

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

ADAM ZAKI: How do you approach communication with your teams? How did you develop the leadership skills necessary to be an executive? 

DAVID MEHOK: I always talk to my team about the importance of communication. It’s a critical lesson I’ve learned throughout my career. Finance, accounting, and legal are critical functions but also can be seen as technical and insular. That could not be further from the truth, and it’s incumbent on our teams to be sure we can effectively communicate the story behind the numbers. It’s important that our business partners understand how they impact the numbers with their actions and decisions on a daily basis and how the financials ultimately drive long-term value creation.

I learned the skills by closely observing what good (and at times not so good) looks like. Modeling good behaviors is something I always strive for. I also try to err on the side of over-communication for everything outside of sensitive information. I found that if I take this approach, 95% of the time it’s the right decision over not communicating enough.

You had a lengthy career at Dell prior to your first CFO role at CLEAResult. What was your thought process when leaving Dell?

MEHOK: Dell was a phenomenal experience, and I have nothing but gratitude for my time there. I had 11 roles in my 18 years there, which gave me a breadth of experience I’m not sure I could have gotten anywhere else.

I reached a point where I was still challenged and enjoying my roles but the level of challenge was not the same, and while the learning curve was up and to the right, it was not as steep. I felt a strong desire to push myself from a career and learning aspect.

How do you define and gauge productivity among remote and non-remote employees? Is there a difference in the way you assess performance? 

MEHOK: I think this is a challenge all leaders are facing. The obvious way is to focus on outcomes versus inputs. That is not always easy to do, and you have to rely on your managers. They have to be even more skilled than they were pre-pandemic at identifying those in the organization who are not driving the outcomes expected, and from there getting a clear understanding as to “why.”

Communication is at a premium in a hybrid or remote environment. We have tools today which are much more effective than they were a few years ago. While there is no replacement for in-person interaction, these tools, when understood and used effectively, can make a big impact.

It’s the annual review season. Do you, as an executive, have a formal review process? And how do you gauge your own performance?

MEHOK: Yes, I have a formal review with each of my direct reports. As I always tell them, if I am doing my job throughout the year there should never be a formal review that includes any surprises. 

I gauge my performance based on the business performance and our ability to continuously optimize business outcomes, given the external drivers. There is a combination of “what” which I just referenced and “how” — are I and my team doing things the right way? This balance needs to be there for us to truly call something a success.

You’ve been in technology for most of your CFO tenure. What has made you seek roles in this particular industry?

MEHOK: I love change, and technology is the epitome of constant change. I believe that if you don’t continue to learn and adapt, you will get left behind, especially considering how the changes happening now will shape the world for years to come. 

How is Q2 preparing for 2023’s poor economic outlook? How will this impact spending and capital allocations?

MEHOK: We are uniquely positioned as we head into 2023. While there are some headwinds based on the macro environment, we have discussed in our earnings call related to discretionary spending and transactional spending, digital transformation continues to be a top priority for financial institutions. We are certainly focused on making sure our cost structure is scaling well with revenue, and have committed to showing expanded EBITDA margins in 2023. 

What is Q2’s biggest accomplishment in 2022? 

MEHOK: I think broadly speaking, the two biggest accomplishments were driving key areas of process improvement across accounting, finance, and legal, and continuing to drive stronger partnerships across the business.

The team has truly migrated from producing accurate and timely data to providing actionable insights and better outcomes across the business. There is still plenty of progress to make but I’m super proud of all the teams have accomplished in this regard in 2022.