2021’s Finance Indaba Conversations gave finance leaders a space to learn and share

These covered topics from learning from mentees and the value of good software, to the downside of last-minute decisions.

During a Finance Indaba Conversation on the lessons mentees can teach their mentors, Mpolaheng Mohlopi, Lanseria International Airport CFO told participants that mentorship is about exposing talent to knowledge, insight and providing support.

“You can’t change what you don’t understand,” she said. And for Mpolaheng, that means that for someone to have choices, they need to be exposed to the options.

For instance, she said, at the airport, every new recruit is exposed to a variety of divisions within the airport as part of their orientation process. A receptionist took a keen interest in the IT department, where she is now working. Her goal has now changed – to become a CIO.

For Avashnee Ramdial, CFO at Stanlib, mentors have played an active role in shaping her career. She said that throughout her career mentors have taught her how to build her own brand, build networks and to become a more prominent supporter of developing women in the workplace. Mentors, she said, help provide opportunities for you.

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Investing in good software
During the discussion on the benefits on investing in quality accounting software, finance leaders revealed that automated financial services programmes allow CFOs to provide stronger strategic insights for the business.

The days of manual Excel spreadsheets and scanning expense claim forms are coming to an end as robotic process automation (RPA) frees up a financial division’s time to get to the real work.

“By automating menial tasks, CFOs can turn their team into business partners for the company, as opposed to spreadsheet experts,” said Josh May, principal consultant at Blackline. The company is a provider of cloud software that automates and controls financial close and accounting processes and was referred to as a case study at this year’s Finance Indaba Conversations.

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Two minutes to midnight situation
In the session on decision-making during difficult times, leaders told Finance Indaba Conversation that leaving difficult decisions until the last minute can be detrimental.

Jo Mitchell-Marais, restructuring services leader at Deloitte, told participants the audit firm is typically parachuted into crises and this is because these crises are often left too late, in a “two minutes to midnight situation. Managing stakeholders, bringing trust, long-term strategic objectives and calm back into the conversation is what we primarily do at Deloitte,” she said.

Jo pointed out that determining what the key warning signs are in your business that something is wrong should be the primary focus for businesses during a crisis, and if you allow the situation to get to a point where the lenders dictate the process, it can put you in a tough position.

“The biggest issue is that management does not want to be seen as those who were on the lookout when the crisis occurred. In order to manage a crisis, early detection is critical, as is bringing in specialists when you don’t know what you’re doing,” she explained.

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