CFO Community Conversation looks into the future and an "ideal world"


The CFOs agreed that Covid-19 has already started shaping the future and the new normal.

On Thursday evening, 4 June, CFO South Africa hosted its 10th weekly CFO Community Conversation at which CFOs were encouraged to look on the positive side of Covid-19.

Opening the conversations of the evening, CFO South Africa sales manager Tamara Bell shared the story of how Ubuntu Beds founder Kim Whitaker aims to raise R16 million to look after health workers that are fighting Covid-19 daily. 

There are four points to her strategy: 

  • Accommodation closer to work
  • Their families are kept healthy and safe
  • The beds in hotels and Airbnbs are filled to help keep the companies afloat
  • Job retention

Inspired by Tamara’s story, Tate & Lyle FD Siphiwe Hlongwane said the pandemic has allowed people to interact more and as a result trust each other more. “Trust has proved to be the source of oxygen in any work relationship and enhances and keeps engagement flowing. I have had time to self reflect, which is not always possible. I have learned a lot about my leadership style and see where I would like to improve and what kind of leader I want to be.” 

Echoing this, DHL Express CFO Craig Henery said that engaging at a deeper level and connecting emotionally with his staff, especially during these uncertain times, has opened everyone’s eyes to areas we can support our staff in that they might not have discussed or known about before.”

The CFOs all agreed that the realisation that making “an ideal world” lies with us has been brought to light during Covid-19. 

Hatch Africa CFO Craig Sumption said that his idea of an ideal world is one in which we reduce the amount of waste in the global economy. “Just because people think they can, they do, and they create huge amounts of waste in the process – a waste of time, energy and resources. And then they don’t deliver the right results.” 

Green Building Council of South Africa CFO Pardon Mutasa believes that people should consider others.

“We tend to focus on the spheres around us and the things that only impact us. We don’t always think about what happens beyond that bubble and that can be a stumbling block for contributing to the greater ecosystem.” 

University of Cape Town CFO Ashley Francis believes that after 10 weeks of lockdown, there’s no going back. “I’ve come to realise that I don’t want to go back to how things were,” he said. “10 weeks have changed my lense in terms of how I see the future. I’m excited about the new normal and the business aspect of it, with new thinking and innovative ideas.” 

The CFOs agreed that the world has already changed so much during Covid-19, enabling the change that has been necessary. The world after Covid-19 might not be ideal, but at least the foundation for a better world has already been laid by innovative and forward-looking ideas. 

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