Dinner reveals how to unlock CFOs’ full intelligence potential


CFO Dinner discusses how asking the right questions is the key to using technology effectively.

Nestled in a private room at the glamorous Aurum restaurant at The Leonardo in Sandton, on 10 August, top CFOs enjoyed a delectable dinner while discussing some of the important things finance professionals need to know about AI – or the lack thereof.

The evening, which was hosted in partnership with Workday, started with a look back at the history of technology when the first text-based games were released. Users had to enter commands and the user interface was programmed to respond to them with a scenario. This, futurist and TomorrowToday Global founder Graeme Codrington explained, is exactly what we see in technologies like ChatGPT today.

And it all comes down to giving the right prompts – asking the right questions.

“We have the unique opportunity in history to ask the right questions, and if we do, we can change the world,” he said, adding that it was up to leaders like those in the room to ask those questions.

“The best CFOs will be the ones who ask the best questions. In fact, humans won’t be replaced by AI, but humans who know how to use technology will replace those that don’t.”

Graeme explained that the skill set that underlies being a good CFO, if applied to AI, can make magic. “Finance professionals can look at a spreadsheet and know the whole story. They have always had to work with the most information in their organisations and have developed this superhero ability to look at data and make sense of it by identifying patterns, and then simplifying it for stakeholders to understand.”

Guests all agreed that there needs to be a partnership between technology and humanity. “We need human experience and judgment to guide the data to deliver value and innovation.”

“We don’t really have artificial intelligence yet,” Graeme said. “We just have a clever tool to access obvious data.”

He likened it to calculators, which covered the base maths, so humans could start focusing on harder maths.

“It’s a tool that will help us unlock our full intelligence potential,” one guest said.

Similarly, CFOs can use technology to help move their organisations away from mundane tasks and towards value-adding analysis and innovation.

And so the important questions CFOs need to ask when thinking about AI are:

  1. Does your data allow you to learn and adapt quickly?
  2. How can AI help you improve operational efficiencies?
  3. Who can you partner with to maximise the benefits of the data?

Examples of innovative cases where organisations have gotten this right echoed through the night as guests excitedly shared the possibilities that lay ahead.

Those attending the CFO Dinner were:

Bronwyn Momberg, Investec Property FD
Caylynne Fourie, CFO South Africa managing editor
Georgina Guedes, CFO South Africa executive community director
Graeme Codrington, Tomorrow Today Global founder and futurist
Hannes Boonzaaier, Afrocentric FD
Leslie Marie, Workday financials lead
Melle Eijckelhoff, CFO South Africa founder and director
Nelisiwe Shiluvana, Famous Brands group FD
Rivasha Maharaj, Avacare Health group CFO
Siya Mnyanda, Workday Large Enterprise senior account lead
Thobeka Ntshiza, Zeda group FD


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