Lawrence Weitzman - CFO Business Connexion: `Today's CFO is much more of a business partner than the gate keeper`
CFO South Africa interviewed a large number of CFOs and CEOs of leading South African companies. This time we get to talk to Lawrence Weitzman, CFO of Business Connexion, Africa’s leading ICT Solutions provider. Business Connexion is a JSE-listed company employing about 6500 people. Lawrence is responsible for the finance and commercial departments, staffing about 200 people. BCX will have revenue of R6bn in 2012 at a 6% operating margin.
Lawrence studied B.Com (Hons) Accounting at the University of Pretoria and then completed his CTA at UNISA. After doing his articles at a small audit firm in Pretoria he then decided that he needed a big firm on CV and joined Standard Bank. He started by doing the consolidation of the group's offshore subsidiaries and left the bank as responsible for the consolidation of the Group's results.
After Standard Bank Lawrence joined Gijima (previously AST) as Group Financial Manager and spent 6 years 'of tremendous learning' at the Group. In February 2005 he joined Business Connexion as Group Financial Manager and was appointed group CFO in September 2011.
1) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the diversity of the job and the constant interaction with people throughout the organisation.
2) How has the role of the CFO changed in the last ten years?
Today's CFO is much more of a business partner than the gate keeper.
3) How do you see the role of the CFO evolving in the next say five to ten years?
If you have the basics in place, eg control environment etc, the CFO will be strategic partner to the CEO in unlocking value in the organisation.
4) Which skill do you think a finance professional should master to be most successful in his work?
Patience and people skills. Also an unwavering commitment to his/her own integrity and values.
5) Which achievement or project in your business career are you most proud of?
Implementation of shared services. This achieved to things. Firstly a sound control environment and secondly a cost effective way of delivering support to the business.
6) Which education would you recommend for a successful career in business, and why?
I would recommend CA(SA) as this gives a very broad background and business understanding - articles with that gives you the edge.
7) Did you ever encounter a book - business book or guide - that inspired you greatly in your everyday life?
I enjoyed Anton Rupert's autobiography.
8) Who is your role model in life and why?
I do not have a role model. I believe in what I stand for in terms of my own values and that is what endeavour to live out in everything I do.
9) What vital piece of advice would you give young finance professionals?
Respect is earned - it does not come with the position.
10) What was the best piece of advice - business-related - that was ever given to you personally?
When you stop worrying about the tax that you are paying to SARS and spend all your time and efforts to minimises it and you actually realise that for every 40 cents in the Rand you pay over you make 60 cents - then you really start making money because you are focussing on the right thing.
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Category: Interviewing the CFO