CFO and CHRO communities come together one final time in 2020

Finance and HR community members share their takeaways from 2020 at the last Community Conversation.

On 8 December, CFO South Africa hosted its final Community Conversation of the year with finance professionals, HR professionals, marketers and partners all gathering online to reflect on the year 2020.

“Thank you all for your incredible support during 2020,” CFO South Africa managing director Joël Roerig said in welcome. He explained that after it became clear in March that the way in which CFO South Africa normally interacts with the community would no longer be possible, it had to adapt its model from live networking events to virtual offerings that include online Community Conversations. “It’s been phenomenal to be able to connect CFOs, CHROs and even marketers every week.”

He thanked all the partners that have been instrumental in making these online networking and learning opportunities possible during the year, with a special thanks to Workday, who has supported the CHRO Community Conversations since their inception.

Attendees then heard from some of the CFO and CHRO communities’ superstars, who shared their takeaways from the year and the lessons they will be taking into 2021. Hatch Africa CFO Craig Sumption, Coronation Fund Managers CFO Mary-Anne Musekiwa, Discovery chief people officer and 2020 CHRO of the Year Tswelo Kodisang, and Autoboys HR executive and 2020 Young CHRO of the Year Kyle Chetty all agreed that the pandemic has brought to light the value of community, family and their jobs.

“It’s been a tough year,” Kyle said. “We all had to make difficult decisions to ensure our businesses would survive during the pandemic. There was a lot of weight placed on our shoulders, but most of us came out stronger.”

He said that the one thing he has learned this year was that people should never underestimate the value and role they play at work and at home. “Take a step back and look at the things you’ve accomplished this year.”

Craig, who has attended all but one CFO Community Conversation this year, said that the weekly discussions have been very helpful for CFOs to discuss some of the issues everyone was facing during this time.

Mary-Anne, who has also been at most of the CFO Community Conversations, agreed with Craig, saying that the platform has provided a much-needed outlet for finance professionals to talk about the challenges they encountered during this time and to collaborate in finding solutions to some of the problems they were facing. “It was really a great opportunity to meet CFOs from different industries who could contribute to my professional development in my role as a CFO,” she said.

Craig agreed, saying that, from a business perspective, having to change, adjust and adapt was key. “The increased interaction between teams really added value to our company, which probably wouldn’t have been the same under normal circumstances.”

Tswelo said that not all of the disruption everyone experienced this year was bad. “The CHRO and CFO communities have never been as vibrant as they were this year. Going forward, we need to make sure that this community stays intact and as vibrant.”

The one thing that Craig is taking away from this year is to be less wasteful. “The lament of waste and excess that we have in our society and organisations was revealed during this period. I hope that as we move forward, we can remember not to have so much waste.”

Tswelo said that while there might have been waste and excess in our organisations in the past, the finance and HR professionals didn’t waste the pandemic crisis. “Covid has created an opportunity to set our businesses on a different trajectory by managing costs differently.”

Echoing what Kyle said, Craig highlighted how the value of family came out very strongly during this period. Tswelo agreed, saying that one of his daughters started running with him during lockdown and that he got to spend valuable time with her and the rest of his family.

“It also highlighted how much people care about their families, employees, companies and communities, and how they were trying to make a difference in everyone’s lives during these difficult times,” Mary-Anne said.

To end the year off on a humorous note, CFO South Africa’s favorite community comedian Nik Rabinowitz shared his lessons and memories from the year, including how there was a hadeda to be heard on every Zoom call and how they would ultimately be the ones taking over our jobs instead of AI.

He closed the evening off referring to Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in lockdown. “Many people wonder how he was able to endure it, but he didn’t have a wife and kids shouting at him.”