If modern CFOs ever needed a role model, Kenichiro Yoshida could be their man. Described as “blunt”, Sony’s new Chief Financial Officer has bowled over influential publications like Wall Street Journal and Financial Times and restored faith in the flailing Japanese business giant by asking the right questions, cutting the dead wood and setting achievable targets.
When I chat to South African CFOs during interviews or one of our CFO South Africa events, they invariably tell me this is exactly what THEY want to do. They want to determine strategy, drive innovative IT-solutions, identify new markets and ask critical questions of business units that take the status quo for granted. The phrase that CFOs shouldn't be number crunchers but business partners is a cliché these days, as everybody understands this is what's required. The bigger question is: how?
"He's so great -- he asks straightforward questions and tries to understand what are the most important things of each business," says one Sony executive about CFO Yoshida on tech site Engadget.com.
According to the Financial Times Yoshida was given free rein by the CEO to challenge business areas and customs previously considered sacrosanct. An example is that the CFO stopped paying dividend for the first time since the company went public in 1958.
At a press conference Yoshida even criticized his predecessors, the Wall Street Journal writes. And an analyst says: "For me, there are only two eras at Sony: before Yoshida and after Yoshida."
Yoshida must be one of those change managers that parachute in from the outside to shake things up? WRONG. When Yoshida became CFO in March, he had worked most of his career in small units within Sony. It begs the question for South African companies: does your next brilliant CFO already work for you?
Not all CFOs are very good at marketing themselves. Fowzia Gamiet of CA Global Finance wrote a great Expert Insight on the topic: what's lacking on the CV of the CFO?
We've also got a great piece up about governance, with KPMG's Dr. Kerry Jenkins explaining why good governance is good for business.
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