Bennie van Rooy - CFO JD Group: `Strategic targets will be broken down into components`

JD Group wants to “to be world-class in our fields of expertise”. It is strategically positioned in Southern Africa as a leading diversified mass consumer financier and a differentiated furniture, appliance, electronic goods, home entertainment and office automation retailer. The Group primarily targets the mass middle market with a secondary focus on the top and bottom end market segments. The Group operates 1138 stores across Southern Africa and Poland. JD Group was listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1986 and has a yearly turnover of R15.7bn, made possible by over 25.000 staff members.

Bennie van Rooy was appointed JD Group's CFO in May 2010. Bennie is a qualified chartered accountant with a B.Com (Hons) degree who completed his articles at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2000. Bennie joined the Absa Group in September 2005 where he specialised in credit risk management before being appointed Head Group Capital Management and Balance Sheet Optimisation in the Group Treasury function in January 2007. He joined JD Group in January 2010 as Group Financial Controller and was appointed as Group Financial Director on 1 May 2010.

1) What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the interaction with a diverse set of fascinating individuals and the intellectual stimulation the job gives me.


2) How do you perceive the role of the CFO has changed in the last ten years?

I think the role has changed from scorekeeper of performance to that of the trusted business advisor supporting strategic initiatives and enabling execution.


3) How do you see the role of the CFO evolving in the next say five to ten years?

I feel the CFO will become more forward-looking with business performance management and risk management playing a key role. Strategic targets will be broken down into components that will be managed to ensure that shareholder value in the form of economic profit (profit after taking into account the cost of capital) is generated.


4) Would you say that accurate forecasting and budgeting is still feasible for a financial department in today's tumultuous financial markets? How do you deal with the volatility?

The word 'accurate' is obviously subjective. But forecasting and budgeting are key components in managing your way through a volatile world. The volatility is overcome by using scenarios and adopting a process of stress-testing the forecasts for certain adverse economic conditions.

5) What do you see as the greatest challenge for South African companies in the global economic situation and for your industry in particular?

I think South Africa's greatest challenge will be generating sustainable profits through the economic cycle.

6) Which skill do you think a finance professional should master to be most successful in his work?

He or she should have good people skills or EQ (emotional intelligence).

7) Which achievement or project in your business career are you most proud of?

I have been fairly successful at a relatively young age without ever changing my personality or my approach to people.

8) Which education would you recommend for a successful career in business, and why?

I know I am stating the obvious but an accounting education is non-negotiable.

9) Who is your role model in life and why?

I don't have a single role-model. There are certain characteristics in people that I observe and admire and will use in my journey through life. I also have a mentor that I look up to for advice from time-to-time and he plays a critical role in my life.

10) What vital piece of advice would you give today's young ambitious finance professionals?

To stay authentic and be sincere at all times. You cannot build a successful career on imitating somebody.

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category: Interviewing the CFO