Kirsten Duke, CPA, CGMA

CFO at DomainTools in Seattle

Kirsten Duke, CPA, CGMA, is the CFO at DomainTools in Seattle
Photo by Madison Kirkman/AP Images

'Listening is the key to being an effective partner ...'

Transitioning from public accounting to industry: I began my career in public accounting in Seattle, where I was with EY for nine years. I served a variety of different industries, primarily in the technology realm because that's such a big market in Seattle. From there, I launched into industry with roles at Getty Images and a small, public biotechnology company. Later, when the CEO of DomainTools called me up and asked if I was willing to come there, I went. It was very small at the time. I was just the 13th employee. I started as a controller. I had three young kids at the time, and it was a good fit. As the company scaled, the complexity of the role increased over time, so as my kids grew and I started ramping back up, my role grew as well.

CPAs and cybersecurity: CPAs are seen as advisers when it comes to cybersecurity. They need to have a basic understanding of the common cyberattacks, from W-2 scams to the theft of login credentials and others. There are great courses out there to learn more. Once they've educated themselves, they can educate others within their organization, or their clients, to push that knowledge more broadly. Ultimately, this will help defend against attacks. Outside of understanding the commonattacks, it's also important to have an understanding of the common techniques used — phishing, malware, or DDoS attacks, for example. Understanding the types of attacks and then the techniques will help mitigate the risks.

Being an effective partner across the organization: Listening is the key to being an effective partner within my organization. I think it's so important to understand the challenges and constraints that others in the company are faced with. Those who do more talking than listening cause frustrations because they don't truly understand, and that makes it hard to meet a goal. It's also important to empower others to make decisions. Not listening to fantastic ideas from other team members stifles creativity.

Breaking down silos to meet everyone's needs: As our company has grown, I've learned how easy it is for silos to develop. I work actively to break those down. I meet with the senior vice president of sales on a regular basis, but I make sure I don't just talk with him. If I see individual sales reps around, I can talk to them to learn what challenges they face, discuss why the sales cycle is lengthening, and talk about what they've got on the horizon that they're really excited about. It's so important to be talking to people at all different levels and not just management, otherwise you're going to miss out on a lot of the needs across the organization.

— As told to Lea Hart, a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac, the JofA's editorial director, at


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