CFOs looking forward to learning, sharing and being inspired at Get Smart summit

Lauren Odell, Hannes Boonzaaier and Thobeka Ntshiza anticipate learning new skills and ideas for the future.

On 21 February 2019, CFO South Africa will be hosting the first CFO Summit of its calendar of events in Johannesburg. 

The Get Smart event will be asking CFOs: How do you stay relevant and adapt to change, new information and knowledge? How do you Get Smart? This is the fundamental business question of 2019 and your approach will be the difference between success and failure. 

At the event, CFOs will hear about BIG thinking and how collaborative behaviour can help them tap potential, accelerate performance and keep their businesses relevant. 

We asked three CFOs who will be attending what they thought about the theme for the event. Eqstra CFO Lauren Odell responded:  

“Super relevant in a constantly changing environment. It is so easy to fall behind and become obsolete if we don’t keep finding out about new information and ways to adapt to change in a positive, effective and efficient way. It's become more and more important as a CFO to ensure that you are surrounded by people who are more intelligent than you as the job is now so much about harnessing and using other people’s knowledge in a positive way for the business – it is a bit like being a conductor of an orchestra.” 

Hannes Boonzaaier, CFO of AfroCentric says that he believes that as business leaders of their companies, CFOs have a duty to ensure that they are synchronising their way of thinking with the communities of South Africa to determine how business is being experienced and what customer needs are. 

“At the same time South Africa is part of a global body and business trends flow over to us very quickly, thus making the need for preparation critical. Knowing your customer’s needs and linking that to your current products is critical in staying relevant and sustainable. Questioning the status quo and not being complacent is in my view the best motivator to gather new information that will benefit us in future,” he says. 

“How do you stay relevant? This is the burning question for the finance profession (and yes, you can extend this to teachers, lawyers, financial advisors, and so on),” says Thobeka Ntshiza. 

However, she said that she believes there may be a problem with how CFOs approach the question. “It is inward looking and this may pose limitations in the quest to THINK BIG. There is a risk that the new thinking will be moulded to fit with what we know are the existing capabilities of the profession. I will challenge all of us to ask this question differently, looking at where the world is going with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and being comfortable that some of us may be required to learn a completely new skill that may supplement or substitute the finance skills already possessed and thus creating a new age “finance” professional.” - Barloworld Logistics FD of Supply Chain Management Thobeka Ntshiza

The Get Smart event will kick off with the OMG CEO Mqondisi Gumede’s famous “Thinking BIG can take you places” speech. He will also be sharing key insights on collaborative thinking.

EOH Group financial director Megan Pydigadu, who will host the first breakaway session for the day, has already provided some insight on how you can build a better business through collaboration.

The second breakaway will be hosted by Peregrine Holdings CEO Rob Katz, who will be speaking about how: “In this day and age, if you are not working in a team... you are dead."

TransUnion CEO Lee Naik will host the third breakaway session of the day, followed by concluding remarks with Jon Foster-Pedley, the dean of Henley Business School and an evening of open networking and drinks. 

We asked the three CFOs what they were looking forward to most at the event: 

Lauren said, “I am looking forward to the breakaway sessions the most – to be able to pick other CFOs’ brains on how they deal with the topic. Chatting to like-minded people often spurs ideas that we wouldn’t come up with ourselves.” 

Hannes added that he was looking forward to the interaction and ‘real life stories’ of his colleagues. “This is what inspires me the most at these events. We all need to learn what we were NOT taught at University.”

And Thobeka concluded that she was looking forward to new ideas from the forum discussions. “I am looking forward to hearing new ideas from the forum discussions and gleaning what other companies have started to do as they embark on this journey to be ready for the future.”