Tell us a little about your career path
A traditional finance path – BEc followed by chartered for seven years, then commercial roles
focused on the ITC industry.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer (paternal compliance – my father was a solicitor)
What has been a career high?
Probably right now – working in an interesting, challenging environment with a lot of smart people.
Any lightbulb moments about what it takes to be a successful CFO?
Quite a few actually – such as leadership, accountability and relationships with stakeholders - but I think that focusing on solutions was an important shift for me. Not just solutions to problems, but also initiatives to drive business success.
How is the CFO role transforming?
I think that it continues to broaden in terms of the required business and strategic knowledge, as well as the emergence of new risks such as cybersecurity that need to be properly understood.
Are there risks associated with that pace of transformation?
Only if you do not continue to grow and develop as well as ensure that the capability of your team is keeping pace with the changing requirements.
Which technologies does the modern CFO need to be across and why?
Cybersecurity must be understood. New technologies such as data analytics, automation and machine learning should all be understood – they may be a threat or opportunity for your business, but they are also represent opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your team.
How far out can a CFO plan, given the pace of change at present?
Definitely beyond the current year – preferably at least three years. With the pace of change, you need to be in the habit of re-calibrating the plan every 3-6 months. A longer-term horizon allows you to work on changes that cannot be executed quickly (for example, cultural change), and it also enables a consistent underlying vision for the team, which can provide motivation and stability during tumultuous periods.
What was the best advice you ever received?
Always focus on helping your team and your colleagues to be successful, as it will help you as well. It is not a ‘zero-sum game’.
Can you share a personal productivity tip?
Only handle emails once – either respond or take action, archive or delete – do not defer.
And a networking tip?
Do not view networking as a work or career task that you begrudgingly tolerate in the hope of gaining personal benefit. Instead, view it as an important part of a fulfilling life – the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of interesting people. The change in mindset can make a big difference.