Pure Storage is one of the fastest growing IT storage companies in history. The Mountain View, California-based company hit $1 billion in its first ten years, expanding into Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. The company still has a lot of growth potential, but Mona Chu doesn’t let the pace upset her composure.
“The fast pace in a dynamic, growing company creates a lot of challenges and opportunities for everyone. It’s a lot of hard work but very rewarding,” says Chu, who is the vice president for finance and corporate controller at Pure Storage. “We’ve become an international company, so working with different countries means different challenges and jurisdictional requirements.”
The company was founded in 2009, and Chu came on board in 2015, just in time to help with a huge project.
“I joined in January, and we went public in October,” she says. “Luckily I’d been through the same thing several times before, helping other companies go through the IPO process.”
Chu had jumped into the accounting field immediately after college graduation in 1994. “I had studied economics and was looking for finance-related opportunities,” she recalls. “And I picked up my CPA soon after. I became more and more focused on accounting and finance, and I stayed in the field for twenty-five years.”
That stretch included eleven years at Google, during which time the company went public and grew into the search-engine behemoth it is today. “It was a once in a lifetime experience and I learned a ton,” she says. “There were six hundred employees when I first got there, and there were more than fifty thousand by the time I left. Revenue went to about $50 billion. It was a phenomenal experience.”
Chu was working as a senior director at Box Inc., when the CFO at Pure Storage—a former Google executive—recruited her.
While much of the company’s growth has been organic, over the past two years Pure Storage has also been on a buying spree. In 2018 they acquired StorReduce, a data duplication software company, and earlier in 2019 they acquired the software-based file storage company Compuverde.
Chu’s past experience had prepared her for the task. “During my time at Google, we did a lot of transactions and these were not much different: straight-forward transactions,” she explains. “The key is going through due diligence and make sure everyone is on the same page. Acquisition is just the beginning and afterwards is integration which takes a while to complete.”
Chu has learned that working for tech companies in Silicon Valley, there’s little time to rest on one’s laurels. She’s constantly educating herself.
“There are always updates and new regulatory requirements,” she says. “The rules are always evolving. We have to be up on the latest and greatest. There’s SEC and accounting rules in the United States, IRS rules, regulatory authorities and filing requirements in all other countries—it’s a lot to keep up with.”
Chu keeps abreast with the industry by reading trade publications, attending seminars, and networking. She also relies on her expanding team.
“The fast pace in a dynamic growing company creates a lot of challenges and opportunities for everyone.”
“You have to build a strong team who you can trust and delegate because you can’t do it all by yourself,” she says. “I have about fifty people, mostly here in Mountain View, California, and with about ten in Dublin, Ireland, and about seven in Utah. We’re starting to grow our Singapore office, too.”
The company’s growing international reach has its advantages. Twice over the past year, Chu has traveled to Dublin to meet with her team members. She took the Emerald Isle crew out to explore the attractions as a team building exercise.
Back home she’s become accustomed to the hurdles that come with living in the Bay Area, the global center for high technology and innovation. “Hiring is very competitive,” Chu says. “You have to do extra diligence to find the right people. It’s a challenge I deal with every day.” To decompress, she enjoys activities that provide a physical workout, such as cardio hip-hop classes and occasionally yoga.
Chu also offers a few words of advice to people starting their career. “When I was young, I jumped around, but then I learned to do otherwise,” she says. “Get a job in a company that has growth potential and stay there for a while. That’s the best way to gain meaningful experience and to learn and grow your career. Jumping from one company to another won’t give you that experience.”