CFOs explore how tough decisions and good business often go hand in hand

The 2021 Finance Indaba Conversations unpacked how good business includes purpose and value.

As the role of the finance professional changes to a more strategic business partner, they are often required to make tough decisions in order to execute on their business strategy. However, CFOs at the 2021 Finance Indaba Conversations revealed that these tough decisions, paired with purpose and values, can make for good business.

For Bothwell Mazarura, CFO at Kumba Iron Ore, good business goes beyond compliance and he stressed that values and purpose should be aligned. “Beyond compliance is about making sure our communities where we operate still thrive, even when we’re not around,” he said. “One of the reasons why I’m in mining is that I believe we have to use the resources we have in order to better our lives.”

According to Bongi Ngoma, head of audit at the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA), the past 18 months have provided organisations with opportunities to learn. “We led the crisis nerve centre, where we had to make difficult decisions, and we decided to prioritise our people, because people are critical to our mandate. We benchmarked against companies that had previously faced similar challenges and took those lessons on board,” she explained.

Adri Fuhri, CFO at e4, said when Covid-19 started she lost a lot of sleep, worrying that if she did things wrong, or didn’t make the right decisions from a financial perspective, people’s livelihoods and families might be adversely affected. “I’ve never been one to really focus on being part of conversations or reading up about things because of the type of set-up that I usually operate in. But what I found during the pandemic is that talking to other people and listening to them sharing ideas in forums, whether it be CFO forums or Osaka forums, really became so valuable,” she said. “Because in isolation, we only know what we know, but if we work together and we listen to each other, we can learn so much from each other, and come up with new ideas.”

Nico Esterhuizen, CFO at JAM international, said one of the key ways he and his team have found to add value is to have a deeper connection with the purpose and vision of the organisation itself. “The connection to organisational and personal purpose unlocks value-add even in a tough work environment,” he said. “Without a purpose and vision, a leader cannot function and cope with the complexities of our business.”

Deon Fredericks, group CFO for Famous Brands, said: “Doing good business isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, it’s holistic. As finance people, we must balance it with acceptable returns and a measurable, sustainable outcome.”