CFOs are looking in unconventional places for their future finance teams


During a CFO Summit in Cape Town, panellists Aneshree Naidoo, Danya von Scheliha, Rick Martin and Shoki Ralebepa unpack their unique hiring approaches, resulting in agile and adaptable finance teams.

The new world of work includes so much more than just the flexibility to work from home as needed. It also requires people to step off the deep end sometimes, which is driving a change in recruitment mindset towards who you hire and why, ensuring that your company culture is continuously upheld. This is the message panellists shared at the recent CFO South Africa’s The People Power Reimagined Summit.

Read more: Compensation, recruitment and tech take centre stage at CFO South Africa’s Cape Town Summit

Jobjack CFO Danya von Scheliha says the current thinking in JobJack is to view whether people can adapt to different roles. “No longer do companies hire payroll managers, for example, and expect them to stay in that role,” she says, “because you need to look at their overall skills and aptitude.”

Being intentional about that hiring process has worked in JobJack’s favour, she adds.

Danya, an example of this herself, had to adapt as she moved from the auditing environment to a startup. “Walking into a new world that I didn’t even know existed. And I think sometimes as auditors, we like to just be in our little audit bubble.”

This shift took her out of her comfort zone into a fast-paced environment where she had to learn that something may come out of nowhere at any time. “I think that’s what it’s really about: navigating those uncertainties and really being able to see what the future holds and then being able to adapt."


Aneshree Naidoo, CFO of Webber Wenzel and Young CFO of the Year 2023, says the law firm is hiring for the future by pivoting from permanent to flexible resourcing. For example, when it comes to special projects, it makes no sense to hire permanent resources. Instead, Webber Wentzel reaches out to people it knows who have a proven track record.

“We’ve got to be open, adaptable and agile to accessing skills that we’ve worked with before; that we know can come to the party and solve problems.”

Recently, Webber Wentzel hired a chartered accountant (CA) for a lead role who loves to, as the candidate put it, “break things”. Curious, as that’s not what she normally wants to hear from a CA, Aneshree asked for more information. The CA, who taught himself programming language SQL during Covid-19, explained that he gets bored easily, and enjoys breaking things to rebuild them into something better. He was hired because of this mindset.

Satrix’s outgoing CFO Rick Martin adds that the company cannot just look at conventional people for conventional jobs because it is growing. “You realise that you need to enable the people that you have, that are skilled and that are good at what they do, to do their jobs as best they can.”

Another important aspect is working based on a sense of purpose, says Rick. “You must be willing to listen. You must remain humble. But you must stay strong.”

Taking a different approach to hiring is essential in the financial space because of the declining number of people going into subjects that will lead them to a chartered accountancy career. South African Reserve Bank (SARB) CFO Shoki Ralebepa, joining the conversation, says that feedback from audit firms is that there is a low intake of students at universities, and audit firms are struggling to onboard those they need. “We may not see it now, but in the next few years, it’s going to become a problem,” she says.

“What I encourage my heads of divisions to do when they are hiring is to not really look at the position in isolation, but whether that person can be moved and transferred around the division.”

This allows the Reserve Bank to build the skills they need inside the organisation, and promote from within, instead of competing for the little talent that’s available.

Putting it into practice

In terms of specific examples where the company shifted the hiring gear, Aneshree points to Webber Wentzel’s recent ERP deployment, her fourth in a relatively short career as a finance leader, where different skills were needed than they initially anticipated. When they started, she expected they would need people with cloud migration expertise, but the final implementation required those with cross-cutting skills, especially in finance.

Danya added that, as much as resilience is a buzzword, it’s one that has really stayed with the company. A key project at Jobjack is pivoting its finance team to be more agile and no longer just count beans.

“We’ve been looking at small tasks that could potentially be a big improvement in our finance system, in our departments. It’s really been a massive game changer when it comes to collaboration with other departments.”

The methodology came from the development team – which usually just occupies its own corner – and is more of a project management tool that allows for continuous improvement across the company, she said.

“Collaboration is important, especially between accountants and the technical department," Shoki added.

This allows finance teams to be agile in a world that is constantly changing in order to continue delivering success for their organisations.

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