4 pieces of advice from leading CFOs


CFO South Africa is all about networking and gaining knowledge from peers. The CFO community is a worldwide one and we pride ourselves on our ability to bring you relevant insights that can assist you in furthering your personal aims and those of your organisation, no matter the sector in which you operate. Here are four pieces of advices from the CFOs of leading global companies.

Never lose sight of the ROI
"As an organisation, we have a maniacal focus on ROI. We built our organisation globally by keeping this at the centre of every investment and decision and now it's just part of our DNA. Look at what your organisation needs and don't be afraid to take chances, but balance risk with success, only increasing the former when the latter goals are being met." - Olivier Bisserier, CFO of Booking.com

Understand your decision-making process
"Whenever I make a decision, I like to do what I call a 'constructive challenge;' that is, understanding how we got to the recommended option as opposed to the other possible routes.

"I always try to balance short and long term, being mindful of the famous short-term quarterly pressure. There is a need to be very responsive but also consistent in time, especially in a brand-building business.

"The key questions I ask myself whenever we are assessing an investment are: Is it a strategic priority for the business? What is the balance between opportunity and risk? How can it be financed, including through reallocation of resources? What are the opportunities for return and value creation (short, mid and long term)? - Gilles Bogaert, CFO of Pernod Ricard

Resource allocation is vital
"An important responsibility of a CFO is resource allocation — where the company is investing its time and money. To do this well, the CFO needs to first get their hands dirty in the field by gaining an understanding of where and how the company is positioned to compete for business by adding value to customers. Second, have a granular understanding of the business — where you create and destroy value - using Operating Profit after Capital Charge (OPACC) as a lens. Finally, drive disciplined execution of the OPACC improvement agenda." - Brad Halverson, CFO of Caterpillar

Build bonds with different departments
"There's a stereotype of accountants and CPAs that they're the scorekeepers, and they keep track of the numbers and they sit in their little corner of the world with their doors shut. I've never taken that approach in my role. My philosophy is to be an operational CFO - I want to understand what's going on in the company, what the interactions are between the different teams and to really have a seat at the table and a voice at the table." - Sue Vestri, CFO of Greenphire

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