CFO Awards: recognising CFOs as leaders, strategists and drivers of change

Professors Wiseman Nkuhlu and Mervyn King will be among the most eminent of guests at this year’s CFO Awards – an annual event that has quickly established its status as South Africa’s finance Oscars. This year's edition on 12 May at the elegant Summer Place in Hyde Park promises to be bigger, bolder and better than ever.

"We are aiming to make the conference the best CFO event of the year, and the gala dinner that follows the best night of the year," says Graham Fehrsen, MD of CFO South Africa, who talks here about what guests can look forward to at this year's instalment.

"In my mind the awards are important to finance professionals for the simple fact that they shine a light on a sometimes unrecognised group of executives. CFOs are leaders, strategists, stakeholder experts, the voice of reason, drivers of change and innovation and, perhaps most importantly, professionals who serve interests beyond their own, when they are truly successful." - Graham Fehrsen, MD CFO South Africa

What can attendees expect from the programme - both the conference and the awards?
"The CFO Awards are the crown jewel in our community as we not only carry the learning and networking thread forward but, importantly, take time to recognise success across our community. The event is intended to give the participants a night to remember so we add world-class speakers, live entertainment and a touch of black-tie sophistication."

Which speakers do you have lined up?
"2016 is going to be a difficult year for many organisations and we will be linking into this challenge with a focus on leadership. We have leading experts Brian Farley and Keith Coates joining us, together with some of the very best CFOs and CEOs sharing their insights on what it takes to be an effective leader. Perhaps the most important part of the night will be recognising the standout CFOs with awards judged by a group of highly respected executives and some past winners."

Who is the master of ceremonies for the Awards?
"We're very pleased to have Vusi Thembekwayo back as our MC for the night. Not only is Vusi a world-renowned public speaker, he is also a leading entrepreneur, investor and South African superstar. He adds genuine first-rate status to an event that recognises the elite of South African CFOs."

Who will be on this year's judging panel?
"Each judge is experienced in the field of business and finance, and highly regarded by the CFO community. Several judges have been on the CFO Awards panel since its inception in 2014, including Victor Sekese (CEO SizweNtsalubaGobodo), Claudelle von Eck (CEO IIA SA), Ben Marx (Vice-Chairperson Accountancy at UJ), Delphine Maïdou (CEO of Allianz GCS Africa) and Jonathan Lang (Head of Africa Bowman Gilfillan). They are joined by previous CFO of the Year winners Simon Ridley and Deon Viljoen, and by the previous winners of the Young CFO of the Year awards Brett Tromp (Discovery Health) and Aarti Takoordeen (JSE Limited). The other judges are Sneha Shah (MD Africa Thomson Reuters), Christo Els (Webber Wentzel), Carel Smit (Executive Committee KPMG), Clement Chinaka (MD Old Mutual Corporate) and David Fine (MD McKinsey South Africa).

How does the judging process work?
"The judges are invited to the panel and participate on a voluntary basis. They have the opportunity to join our interviews with CFOs and then cast their vote using a dossier put together by the CFO South Africa team. We are very pleased to be associated with such an exceptional group of executives who offer their time and attention to shine a light on the incredible work CFOs do in South Africa."

How many awards are presented and what are they all?
"There are a total of 10 awards up for grabs this year, including the one award to rule them all - the coveted CFO of the Year Award. The other awards include Compliance & Governance Award, Strategy Execution Award, High Performance Team Award, Transformation & Empowerment Award, Finance Transformation Award, Finance & Technology Award, Moving into Africa Award, Young CFO of the Year Award, and Public Sector CFO of the Year Award."

Which is the most prestigious or most coveted award handed out on the evening?
"Of course the CFO of the Year is a coveted award but each of our awards recognises exceptional performance. The list of nominees is outstanding and the judges face a real challenge when trying to identify the best of the best. Without detracting from any of the awards, being nominated marks genuine success as a CFO."

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