4 hot tips from leading CFOs
We scoured our archives to find insights from top executives
Andrew McMaster, FD of Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, gives his view on what is necessary for successful ‘big picture’ thinking.
“One has to have context of the environment that you’re in – the micro context, the macro, the world, brands, trends, etc. Part of this context is understanding what your own purpose and vision is. We have become very clear on what our purpose is in the world. As a finance person, I’ve always stayed clear of talking about profit. I talk around this. I think, if your purpose is talking to something slightly greater than your day-to-day function, and greater than just making a profit, this drives you. Your vision has got to talk to this; you’ve got to experience the journey. If you know where you’re going, you can take diversions along the way, as long as you have the context of where you’re going to end up and what you’re going to encounter along the way.
“Also, having empathy is so important – for what you do, the people around you, other stakeholders. If you understand what they need, that helps you deliver the big picture.”
Asked whether she has encountered any adversity being a smart and successful woman in business, Standard Bank African Regions CEO Sola David-Borha (pictured) says every career has its challenges.
“The important thing is not allowing those challenges to distract you,” she says, once again referring to the power of your mindset. “Whether it’s your gender, your race or your religion, you must remain focused on how you can improve your skills and your knowledge base, remain professional no matter what circumstances you see, and conduct yourself with integrity. Invariably the promotions will come.”
Nyasha Dzumbunu, CFO of SBU, examines how developing a network of positive influencers and being an open communicator can set you up for success.
"It also helps to tap into what’s going on inside you, what drives you, what are you passionate about, what makes you wake up in the morning and get going. That is important to enabling you to become as successful as possible. And having the right attitude."
"You must also be able to take feedback – there’s something about humility, knowing that you don’t always have all the solutions or are not always the one who is right. And you need to learn constantly, which is why the network surrounding you is so important. You must be very particular about the company you keep.”
Sean Berrington, CFO for Group IT at Standard Bank, talks about dealing with the challenge of balancing operations, IT and independent finance teams.
“You can’t be an effective CFO if you don’t know your business. When a tough problem pops up, it is important that you understand the context, the drivers and the levers that can be pulled to get it resolved. My deep understanding of IT in my role allows me to recognise the problem, the influencers and opportunities for resolution. IT is a black box for most people, but I am able to harness my skill set to hold constructive conversations that lead to investigation.
“IT does excite me and I want to get involved, but as a CFO I always have to have a degree of impartiality and independence. With this context in mind, I encourage my team to get engaged and understand the business of IT. I encourage them to get into the work and to work with their business partners to solve problems but regularly remind them about the need to be independent. It is important that they never get to the point where you have to manipulate a number or feel uncomfortable reporting a number, because then you know you have crossed the line.”