The Triathlete CFO Proving Waterloo Is Still The (Tech) Place to Lead

Dave Pooley is the CFO at Axonify Inc. a Waterloo based company the inventor of the world’s first Employee Knowledge Platform used by businesses around the world.

Axonify is game-ified knowledge platform for employees and an improved bottom line for businesses
Built with the fundamentals of brain science, adaptive learning, gamification, microlearning and knowledge-on-demand at its core, the Axonify Employee Knowledge Platform is proven to encourage employees to take the right actions, ultimately driving business outcomes that increase revenue or decrease expenses. Through its unique analytics and reporting capabilities, Axonify is the only solution that allows organizations to finally tie the impact of employee knowledge to behaviour to change to bottom line results.


What is the role of CFO at Axonify all about?
My role at Axonify is multifaceted and touches many areas of the business. I support the sales team with contracting and legal advice, manage the company budget and forecast our growth, revenues and expenses for our investors and manage our external financial reporting. I love working for a company like Axonify because I get the opportunity to be involved in so many aspects of the business, from audits to strategic planning.

Do you know where you get your drive from?
I owe everything to my parents when it comes to me being where I am today. I have always had the ability to catch on quick and have always been good with business and financials but it took awhile for my drive and focus to catch up. I spent years working in varied locations from a small accounting firm in a farm town in Banff, Alberta spending most of my time as a ski bum to working for an accounting firm in Iqaluit, Nunavut and was always travelling in between. It was my parent’s guiding presence that led me to a role and profession working with technology start-ups where I feel I have thrived and found my stride.

How do you stay self-motivated?
My motivation is based solely around spending my time doing what I love, with people I love being around. My drive is to always be in a position both professionally and personally where I can be in control of my present and future. I want to work somewhere because I want to work there, not because I have to. I can honestly say there is no place I’d rather be working than Axonify and that professionally and personally I could not be happier with where I am currently in life.

What would you say is your preferred way to network?
I view myself as a bit of an introvert and so networking is not always my strength as it takes a bit of an effort on my part to actually go out and do it. That said, I fully acknowledge it is an important aspect of my position and my career and so I try to take steps to ensure I have a connection to the local tech community. I meet with other local tech CFOs on a regular basis in a group we have developed to benefit from each other’s experiences. I realize I’m in a position to potentially help mentor a younger generation of CFO or entrepreneur, therefore, I make sure that I am not too focused on what networking opportunities will benefit me but also opportunities where I can benefit others, just like I was helped by mentors as I progressed in my career. I do my best to meet with people who are interested in my experience and provide guidance where I can be of use.

How would you describe your process for deepening relationships?
Given my general aversion to being an overly outgoing person, my relationships generally develop organically. Relationships build quicker for me with someone that I feel I can trust and respect and someone who is genuine. Just like with my time there are only so many people in life you can develop meaningful relationships with so I try to make sure I’m making good decisions on who those people are and that I can be a positive relationship to them and vice-versa.

What are your preferred tools for keeping organized?
I’d love to say I am an organized person but if you ask my teammates they would probably describe a very chaotic looking desk, full of scattered papers. But there is a method to the madness and to-date it has not impacted me negatively. I’ve accepted it is the way I operate and while I may never be someone that is overly detailed and granular I work with team members that are and we compliment each other in our skill sets.

What is your favourite way to market your product or services?
Given my financial background I love to talk about the Return on Investment (ROI) that our customers experience when they implement our Employee Knowledge Platform. Axonify always focuses on the bottom-line impact our product and services can have for our customers and as a financial executive these results are what would seal the deal for me.

Who has been your mentor in helping you find success?
I have had two mentors throughout my career. My father who is a retired partner from EY and is why I became a CPA, CA and then our CEO Carol Leaman who in the past 4 years has taken my professional experience light years ahead from where it was when I joined the business. My father has always been such a positive presence in my career whether it was providing detailed handbook guidance to just general common sense advice he has never led my down the wrong path. Carol Leaman is a CPA, CA herself and working with a CEO that has an accounting background has been an absolute pleasure and such a great learning experience for me. She is so accessible and always willing to provide guidance as an accountant but also as a strategic thinker who is currently and has previously grown businesses into giant successes.

What social issue does your organization raise funds and/or awareness for?
The charities that we have opted to support in 2017 through a consideration based on employee feedback are: Family & Children’s Services of Waterloo Region, the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Canadian Cancer Society and other cancer research fundraising efforts.

How and where do you continue to learn?
I continue to learn from a number of resources. I ensure I make the most of my access to Carol Leaman, our CEO as she is an endless resource of knowledge and experience that I can learn from. Access to other local CFOs has been extremely valuable as well and we all try to support each other as we encounter new issues as our businesses grow. In addition, I am lucky as the Waterloo community is supported by amazing organizations like the Accelerator Centre and Communitech who put on great professional development sessions and support access to mentors that provide invaluable knowledge and learning opportunities.


Do you have a fitness ritual that you live by?
I am currently caught up in the Triathlon scene training for a number of Ironman 70.3 races this summer. My week is fairly regimented with multiple runs, bikes and swims. I find it is a great stress relief and reset for me. There is nothing like a 5am swim to set you up for a great day.

How do you feed your soul?
Anything that involves my wife and our two pups is a place I want to be. They help me step back from my busy work schedule and just catch a well needed breath and keep things in perspective. Having spent many years in the Rockies I also day dream constantly of being back there skiing so I usually make multiple trips a year to do some backcountry skiing with some old friends out there to top up the soul.

How would you describe the eating ritual that makes you feel most powerful?
With my triathlon training I try to keep a consistent healthy diet throughout the week as best as possible. I’ll cheat on the weekend with a nice meal out and some drinks.


What lifestyle brand would you say shares your values most?
Right now Freshii would represent a brand I can relate to. They provide a great easy to access meal for a healthy lifestyle and also sponsor my favorite Triathlete Lionel Sanders from Windsor.

Who is your favourite artist?
There are many musicians and artists that I can list but the first that comes to mind is Ryan Adams, likely because I just saw him at Massey Hall this week. I find there is nothing better to recharge me then a good concert.

What is your favourite meal?
Can’t go wrong with a good pizza.

What is your favourite sport to watch?
I grew up playing hockey and all my close friends came from that environment so hockey would be my favorite sport to watch. Especially when it’s a Canadian team in the playoffs.

Where is your favourite place to unwind?
Either lounging at home with my wife and the pups or on a long country road cycle with my Dad.