Durban CFO Dinner: Leaders discuss people and innovation

Durban finance leaders are in agreement: if you want to drive innovation and value creation, people hold the key.

During an exquisite dinner at The Chef’s Table in Umhlanga, Durban, some of KZN’s top finance leaders shared insights in their quest to build better businesses. Aspen Pharmacare’s CFO Sean Capazorio (profile), winner of the Finance Transformation Award at the 2018 CFO Awards talked passionately about his company’s journey from a relatively small business to the multinational they have become:

 

“We’ve had to try and lead the way in finance by developing approaches that help the business see through the value stack and really understand their profitability,” said Sean. “And while this has required good systems and a considered strategy, we would not be where we are were it not for some very talented and committed people.” He shared a poignant example of uncovering talent within his organisation and fellow dinner guests Mikateko Tshetshe, VP Finance Unilever (pictured below with Sean Capazorio) and SA Home Loans CFO Matthew Mutch, chipped in with nearly identical stories.

Asked how Aspen take their resourceful and entrepreneurial style into new businesses, Kevin Lee (Head of Finance - International at Aspen) pointed to offering staff a better understanding of the business in financial terms. He also said it is important to look one or two layers below the incumbent leadership for people who can really make a difference. “We see it quite regularly; business leaders who have been in roles for a long time are often the obstacle to peak performance,” said Kevin.

“When we provide the business with good commercial insights those leaders who can’t rise to the challenge often step aside and their seats are filled by internal people who are connected and committed to reaching new levels of performance. We have also learned that some people are great at starting things while others are better at refining and maintaining the business. Figuring this out has been very helpful in driving our businesses forward more effectively.”

Rob Field, RCL Foods CFO, noted that their journey has been interesting and, among other things, have thinned down from 19 to just six ERPs. “We’ve done good work and a lot of integration challenges have already been overcome. We are right on the cusp of more significant changes and being here tonight has reminded me that there is great value in sharing ideas with finance leaders from across other industries.”
 
“It’s been great to sit down with other finance leaders and hear more about what they’re up to,” noted ARB Holdings Grant Scrutton “I really value the CFO South Africa platform and get to these events whenever possible. Of course, tonight was a great reminder of the way good people help organisations reach their full innovation potential.”