Operator Spotlight
Finance & Legal

Meet Wing Chief Financial Officer Shannon Nash

Caroline Caswell

“How did they do that? How did they get there?” Companies succeed because of the people who build them - operating leaders who grow businesses to new heights and make decisions every day that can impact entire industries. Each month, our Operator Spotlight gives you the inside track from one of our incredible Operator LPs (Limited Partners) who are changing the game – building and scaling some of the world’s most successful companies. Read on for lessons learned and mistakes made, perspectives from the top, practical advice, and ideas on what’s next. 

This month, we spoke with Shannon Nash, Chief Financial Officer at Wing, a drone delivery company and subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc, who oversees all corporate finance, strategy, accounting, investor relations, fundraising, and regional/partner operations. Shannon is a financial expert, attorney, and CPA with over 25 years of experience helping scale companies through strong financial and operational leadership.  She serves on the Board and Audit Committee of NetScout Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: NTCT), a software solutions and cybersecurity company that protects the world's most important networks against disruptions in availability, performance and security.  She is also a Board Member and Audit Chair at Lazy Dog Restaurants, one of the fastest growing restaurant companies with 41 locations in 8 states. Additionally, Shannon is on the Board of SoFi Bank, a subsidiary of SoFi Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFI).   She formerly served as the Lead Independent Director, Chair of the Nominating & Governance Committee, and member of the Audit Committee at UserTesting (NYSE: USER) until the company was acquired by Thoma Bravo in January 2023. In her free time, Shannon is a fitness junkie and teaches Zumba and U-Jam Fitness. She’s also an award-winning documentary film producer with her film, Colored My Mind, winning best short at the 2013 American Pavilion in Cannes. She is currently working on her next film, On-Board, that looks at board diversity and it’s expected to come out later this summer.  

Having been in the CFO seat for over a decade, how have you seen the role evolve over time? How do you think it may change in the future? 

The CFO of the past was more of a historian, looking at the past.  The CFO of today is more of a fortune teller, using numbers to predict the future.  

In past decades the CFO was often more of the top number cruncher.  The role was more accounting in nature - budgeting, forecasting, financial statements, audits, taxes and internal controls.   The CFO of today must be very strategic.    Instead of focusing on historical results, CFOs are tasked with using that data to predict trends and ultimately help drive a company’s go-to-market strategy. 

The CFO’s role now covers a wide remit now from mission critical projects, serving as the main confidant/advisor of the CEO, obtaining financings, dealing with investor relations and driving M&A targets, and all of this in addition to being responsible for the accounting, budgeting and forecasting.  

Communication skills are also very critical for a CFO.  Technical skills are assumed.  It’s often the soft skills that separate the Good CFO’s from the Great CFOs.  The Great CFO is always making it a priority to be completely in the middle and involved in the company’s go to market motion - attending sales meetings, talking to customers, understanding what makes the company tick and stay successful.  In many instances CFOs have to have a bit of salesmanship.  The CFO must be able to turn financial data/trends into meaningful and actionable insights/actions.  

As the CFO’s role has expanded, this has opened the role/opportunity for second in command type roles that are tasked with overseeing the more day-to-day tactical tasks of the finances team - often relegated to Chief Accounting Officer/Controller and VP of Finance/FP&A roles.  I’ve worn both of those hats as I climbed the corporate ladder.  

Have you adapted any practices in response to the current macro environment? How are you thinking about your strategy for 2023, and any predictions for what’s to come?  

In this current environment it's really important to be flexible and resilient.  Just because something worked the last 2-3 years, does not mean it will still work now.  I have adapted several practices in response to the current macro environment. First, I have increased my focus on cost optimization.  This includes looking at our  workforce, cutting back on unnecessary expenses, and negotiating better deals with my suppliers. I have increased my focus on innovation. This includes developing new services that meet the needs of our partners and investing in new technologies that will help us operate more efficiently.

I am thinking about my strategy for 2023 in the following way: I will continue to focus on costs, diversification, and innovation. I will also focus on expanding our business into new markets, and on developing new products and services that meet the needs of my customers.

As for predictions for what's to come, I believe that the global economy will continue to grow, but at a slower pace than in recent years. I also believe that there will be more volatility in the markets, and that there will be more opportunities for businesses that are agile and innovative.

Overall, we remain committed to our long-term strategic vision and believe that our adaptations to the current macro environment will position us for success in the years ahead

What are some things that people often get wrong about the finance organization in a company? 

There are a number of common misconceptions that people have about the finance organization in a company. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the finance organization is a bunch of number crunchers, who manage the budget/money and sit in a back dimly lit office wearing pocket protectors.  While it's true that the finance organization is responsible for financial reporting and managing financial risk, there are many other aspects of the company's finances that are managed by other departments. For example, sales and marketing teams are responsible for revenue generation, and operations teams help with managing costs.  And we don’t wear pocket protectors! 

Another misconception is that the finance organization is primarily focused on cutting costs and reducing expenses. While cost management is certainly an important part of the finance organization's role, it's not the only focus. The finance organization is also responsible for driving growth and identifying new business opportunities. In fact, finance professionals often play a critical role in developing and executing the company's overall strategy.

A third misconception is that the finance organization is highly bureaucratic and slow-moving. While it's true that finance professionals need to be diligent and thorough in their work, they also need to be agile and able to respond quickly to changes in the market or within the company. Many finance organizations have adopted new technologies and streamlined their processes in order to become more efficient and responsive to business needs.

Overall, it's important to recognize that the finance organization plays a critical role in supporting the overall success of the company. By working collaboratively with other departments and focusing on both cost management and growth opportunities, finance professionals can help to drive long-term value and strategic success.

Drone delivery is a big, hard, game-changing opportunity - not the kind of thing that happens overnight! What was one of the challenges that surprised you, and what was a key learning?

Building a business takes collaboration, perseverance, and focus. Last year, we accomplished many milestones - from launching in a new country to introducing a new service model.  Keeping a strategic focus, developing our longer term strategy, and ensuring what we’re building today paves the path for our future is necessary. With so many exciting milestones happening in the present, and the fast pace of our company, it’s important to stay focused on our longer term successes. 

What’s your secret super power? 

My secret super power is my ability to build and maintain relationships. It's something that comes naturally to me, and I believe it's a key to success in any area of life.

I've always been good at getting people to interact, network, and expand their circles. Whether it's in a personal or professional setting, I have a knack for bringing people together and fostering connections that last.  I am able to build relationships with people from all walks of life, and I am able to use those relationships to help me achieve my goals. I am also able to use my relationships to help others achieve their goals.

I believe that building strong relationships is key to success in any area of life. When you have a strong network of connections, you have access to new ideas, opportunities, and resources that can help you achieve your goals. In my professional life, I've been able to leverage my relationship-building skills to build a strong network of colleagues, and industry experts who have helped me to grow in my career and achieve my goals.

I also believe that building relationships is about more than just networking or expanding your circle. It's about really connecting with people on a personal level and building trust and mutual respect. When you have a strong foundation of trust and respect with others, you can collaborate more effectively and achieve better outcomes.

Overall, I would say that my secret super power is my ability to build and maintain relationships. It's something that comes naturally to me, and I believe it's a key to success in any area of life.

Diversity and Inclusion are cornerstones of your leadership. Tell us more about what fuels you and how you came to be involved in the incredible organizations you lend your leadership to - as a Board Advisor to Black Women on Boards, an Executive Board Member to How Women Lead, and as a mentor for Santa Clara University’s Black Corporate Board Readiness Program.

I am deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in all areas of my life and career. I understand the importance of representation and strive to create a world where everyone feels valued and supported. I believe that diversity drives innovation and creativity, and I am dedicated to using my skills and experience to help create a more inclusive world.


This passion fuels a deep sense of responsibility from my childhood.  I recently shared my story with O Magazine —a powerful piece in which 100 women of color share their first encounter with racism, entitled “100 Women of Color Remember Their First Encounter With Racism—And How They Overcame It” by Monica Chan, March 25, 2021.


My first experience with racism occurred when I was just five years old. I had always been an avid reader and by kindergarten, my parents had me reading several grade levels above my peers. My neighbor, Otis, would often watch me after school and I would read the newspaper to him, as he did not speak English well.


One day, I came home and told Otis and my parents that I couldn't read anymore. At first, they thought I was joking, but soon realized that something was wrong. My mother, who was substitute teaching at my school, noticed that all the Black children were sitting at a table coloring while all the white children were in a circle reading with the teacher. My parents immediately went to the principal and advocated for me to be included in the reading circle with the other white children.


Thanks to my parents' support and advocacy, I was able to regain my love for reading and excel academically. I was now allowed in the circle for reading time with all the other white kids. This experience taught me the importance of having supportive mentors and advocates in all aspects of life. I have been fortunate enough to have these types of people throughout my career, and feel it is my responsibility to pay it forward and mentor others as well.

I have mentored and sponsored many individuals from underrepresented groups to help them advance in their careers and implemented policies and initiatives within my organization to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. One of my proudest professional achievements is promoting and mentoring several individuals from underrepresented groups who now lead as VPs/Controller roles in their organizations.

To drive change on a broader scale, I have been actively involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives with many organizations.  I lend my time to speaking on numerous panels, fireside chats, etc. Over the past 12 months I’ve spoken to thousands of people on topics related to finance, leadership, path to C-suite, corporate board readiness, and DEI for corporations from Intel, Salesforce, and Google to organizations including New York Women in Film & Television, Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, and CalCPA.  

Furthermore, I am currently producing a documentary on Board Diversity with the hope of inspiring more women to aspire toward corporate board service. By these actions, I am working to inspire others to dream bigger and strive for greater representation in the finance profession.

What’s a piece of advice you would give to yourself 10 years ago, if you had the opportunity? 

10 years ago, I was in a very different place in my life. I was just moving to the Bay Area and starting to build a new network in tech.  If I could go back and give myself some advice, it would be this:

Always bet on yourself!

A bird sitting on a branch is never afraid of breaking that branch because her trust is not in that branch but on her God-given talent. You have everything you need to succeed, so don't be afraid to take risks and go after what you want.

Don't be afraid to fail.

Failure is a part of life, and it's something that everyone experiences. It's not the end of the world, and it's not something to be ashamed of. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow, so don't be afraid to embrace it.

Don't compare yourself to others.

Everyone is on their own journey, and there is no need to compare yourself to others. Focus on your own goals and accomplishments, and don't worry about what everyone else is doing.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

No one is an island, and we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in asking for help, and it can be a sign of strength. If you need help, don't be afraid to reach out to others.

Don't be afraid to change.

Change is inevitable, and it's something that we all have to deal with. It can be scary, but it's also an opportunity for growth. Embrace change, and don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

Don't be afraid to be yourself.

The most important thing is to be true to yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not, and don't let others dictate who you should be. Be proud of who you are, and don't be afraid to show the world the real you.

Let's connect.

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