There’s a pattern among the finance group at Austin, Texas-headquartered technology company SolarWinds. A handful of finance professionals have been with the company for over ten years. Group Vice President of Tax and Treasury Joe Ciccarello has nearly fourteen, and his tax and treasury leaders have both been with the company almost as long.
“I’m sure the company is the big seller for those folks, but I think if they didn’t like me, they would have left a long time ago,” Ciccarello says, laughing.
Ciccarello is soft-spoken and easy-going, but that shouldn’t fool you. Throughout his tenure at SolarWinds, the GVP has helped grow a company of two hundred people to thousands. He’s helped take the company public, then private, and then public again. He helped spin off a third of the organization during 2021, but that still isn’t the high point, at least according to Ciccarello.
His most lasting contribution to SolarWinds was back in 2008 in a small, subleased office space, when SolarWinds was just two hundred-odd people. Ciccarello sat with the CFO and members of the finance team, figuring out how they were going to make SolarWinds’s growth hopes into reality.
“These were big, overarching questions,” Ciccarello remembers. “How are we going to set up the organization? Where will we be setting up outside of the US? How do we set up all those entities and operations?”
Fourteen years later, SolarWinds software is used by virtually every Fortune 500 company and has international operations in eighteen countries. But after all the growth, the operating structure that Ciccarello helped build and put in place is still the same in many ways.
That’s foresight. That’s planning. And that’s why Ciccarello is still at SolarWinds all these years later.
The long-term mindset that the SolarWinds finance team has demonstrated can be inextricably linked to the 2021 spin-off of a third of the company into N-Able Inc. The cloud-based software provider was a huge transaction that few in-house accountants get a chance to tackle in their career.
N-Able accounted for a third of SolarWinds employees—a massive transition and evolution for any company. But Ciccarello says the planning his team did back in 2008 still found a way to prep for a move that wouldn’t be made until over a decade later.
“I’m proud to say I mindfully put structures in place along the way that anticipated that one day, we might need to sell or spin off businesses. If so, it could be done efficiently,” he explains. “Those structures were set up so we could carve out parts of the business without the effort that I’m sure other companies who have done this have gone through.”
The spin-off of N-Able has brought Ciccarello’s early planning full circle. With the company back to doing what it does best, SolarWinds is now operating more closely to the way it was designed before it grew and evolved several times over. Ciccarello is back to where he started but in a more highly elevated environment.
The long-term planning and mind for detail that Ciccarello goes hand in hand with his leadership style, which draws from his continued involvement in the sports. Ciccarello played soccer at the University of Louisville and has continued to play and coach all through the years. This year he’s serving as president of the high school soccer booster club for his sons’ team.
“I had great coaches and I had horrible coaches,” he says. “I’ve always tried to lead by example and listen to my teammates to assure them that their voice is being heard. Compassion and empathy can go a long way.”
Ciccarello’s emphasis on teamwork might offer some insight as to why his direct reports have been with him so long. The GVP understands that people who are happy, motivated, and feel heard will ultimately make their organization more successful.
During his time playing, Ciccarello said that public service was part of the responsibility of being on the team. The college student would put on soccer clinics for kids, and that sense of civic commitment obviously stuck with him. Much like his early work at SolarWinds, Ciccarello has helped create the financial foundation for several nonprofits.
“You need the people with the passion to do the charitable work, and then you need guys like me to be able to help them set up procedures, budgets, and frameworks,” Ciccarello says. “I’m just glad to be able to support great organizations in my own way, and I’m proud to have been able to do things for great causes.”
The coming year will be very similar to the last fourteen for Ciccarello in that there will be a whole new challenge he hasn’t seen before. It might be aiding SolarWinds R&D or sales teams in a new country or territory. It might be continuing to adapt to what it means to be at SolarWinds after a massive divestiture.
Regardless, Ciccarello says his finance team is one of the best he’s ever seen, and it’s ready for whatever the wind may blow in.