CFO Dinner celebrates the good, the bad and the funny of twin crises

KZN CFOs gather for conversation about community and crises at The Oyster Box.

A group of leading CFOs, from an array of industries, gathered for dinner at The Oyster Box in Durban on 9 November, for conversation and collegial insight into how the twin crises of unrest and Covid-19 have made 2021 a year like no other.

As a testament to their leadership and resilience, the CFOs acknowledged that the crises have left an indelible mark on each of them.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and in KwaZulu-Natal in particular, unrest and looting disrupting operations across all industries on the East Coast, CFOs had to often dig deep to keep their companies afloat and ensure employee wellbeing.

Open and honest conversation highlighted the good, the bad and the funny of the year that was.

The dinner was attended by:

  • Anusha Ramraj, FD CCI SA
  • Brian Chivere, community manager CFO South Africa
  • Bronwyn Kilpatrick, CFO Toyota SA
  • Clive Potter, head: client coverage SA, CIB, Standard Bank
  • Junaid Jadwat, head: client coverage KZN, CIB, Standard Bank
  • Mark Stirton, CFO Mr Price
  • Mark Gounder, CFO Hulamin
  • Rob Aitken, CFO Tongaat Hulett
  • Robert Field, CFO RCL Foods
  • Ronda Naidu, associate editor CFO South Afrca
  • Sean Capazorio, CFO Aspen Pharmacare
  • Veliswa Rozani, CFO Beyond Mobility
  • Zaid Moola, head, CIB SA, Standard Bank

Resilience was a common term used throughout the three-course dinner, which was made possible by Standard Bank. This innate ability to bounce back in the midst of a crisis was noted to be true of the financial leaders in the room – and extended to employees in each of their organisations as well.

The power of the people who are focused on one goal was acknowledged, celebrated and honoured during the evening.

There was consensus that the crises had changed lives, both personally and professionally. Businesses, which were already reeling financially from the socio-economic effects of the pandemic and related lockdowns, had to then deal with the effects of social unrest, which took the form of burnt warehouses, lost stock, closed stores and uncertainty.

Despite these challenges, the CFOs highlighted positives that have resulted from the crises. These included life lessons learnt as well as an increase in productivity with remote working – and that although a business may have good assets, its best asset is its people.

It further taught the financial leaders the importance of thinking differently, adopting new strategies, the importance of work-life balance and an agile culture. These traits have worked well for a number of companies, with CFOs saying that despite the challenging operating environment, good deals were made during the year.

From the hard lessons learnt, CFOs were unanimous in their view that there is opportunity in crisis and everyone present said they were excited about the future.

It was to this enduring message that CFOs raised a glass to a hopeful nation and the resilient people that live in South Africa.

The opportunity to network, share experiences and have a conversation with peers who had faced – and are facing – similar challenges was invaluable to the CFO who attended.