100 days of Frey’s: Take to the skies!

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Brad Wentzel shares his final phase of becoming Frey’s Food Brands’ CFO, where he starts to implement change.

Since starting my journey as the CFO of Frey’s Food Brands on 3 January 2023, I have spent most of my time learning about the business and preparing myself for the role. During the final phase of my transition, however, the workload increased significantly and I found myself pulled between performing tasks, managing projects and expectations, and reviewing outcomes.

Help was essential to my success…

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By now, your knowledge of the business has become more embedded in your daily life and vernacular. Your own leadership style and the business become more at ease with one another and your ability to spot the value unlocks and big-picture opportunities now begin to take shape.

Teach them to fly

In this phase, you should start creating the team that will help you carry out that vision. Set up your growth strategies and create a regular check-in rhythm with your team. Knowledge-sharing and personnel upliftment must be inculcated into your team culture, and hopefully engrained in those around you, but you need to be the catalyst of this change. Discuss their hopes and dreams, both personally and professionally, and set them on a path to achieving those targets.

The calling of any leader is to be the champion of the people under your care: part of that includes growing and developing them. Now is a good time to start upskilling your team to equip them with the tools they need to deliver. Identify skills gaps and close them.

Once you have institutionalised this upliftment process, pull your team in and strategise. Discuss the company and include them in as much of the business strategy as you can. Ask for their opinions, then listen and critique their views with care.

Watch them soar

Remember that you are nothing without the support of your staff – they are critical to your success. This means you should build processes and create autonomy and accountability that will help both you and your team achieve your own outcomes.

A good example of how to do this is during budgeting. A budget deployed in conjunction with a well thought-out delegation of authority and guardrail systems can be one of the most empowering tools in the business landscape. Building a space where people can operate freely is a crucial element of this.

How do you do this?

1. Start the process early

Don’t rush it. Give people time to get stuck in, apply their minds, and pitch their ideas.

2. Zero-base where you can

Start afresh each year. This will encourage a hard look at all expenses and spending habits.

3. Debate the assumptions

Feel free to ask questions, but allow your team time to respond. This will further assist them in learning how to manage the spend and having comfort over what they pitched.

Remember, EQ will triumph IQ here.

4. Set them loose, and manage expectations

Give your staff autonomy and watch them fly. In turn, this will free you up to manage what you need to.

Final parting advice

Someone once told me: “A good CFO is able to start a task and take it to completion.” Be wise in choosing what you start, then be focused and disciplined in your approach and make sure you complete it.

I hope these insights have helped you manage your own first 100 days in your new job – or even added some guidance on how to manage whatever day you're on.

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