Editorial: View from the top

As editor of CFO South Africa I often have the privilege of visiting Finance bosses in their offices. One day I find myself navigating the grimy labyrinth of Germiston on my way to see Interwaste FD André Broodryk, the next day I park next to a shiny specimen of the latest Badger infantry combat vehicle on my way to see Denel’s FD Fikile Mhlontlo in Irene. And then there’s the special elevator in the Standard Bank building in downtown Johannesburg – built on top of an old gold mine – that only goes to the executive floor, nowhere else. After going up in style I always feel a little bit important by the time I shake the hand of ‘the quagga’, Group FD Simon Ridley.

But nothing compares to the 49th floor of the monumental Carlton Centre just down the road from the bank. Once the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, its walls seem to hide the secrets of success and failure. Its height talks of ambition and advancement. And its interior - now bustling after years of neglect - speaks of industriousness and perseverance. But it's the view from the top - mine dumps in the distance, hawkers down below and Sandton hidden behind building cranes - that really gets to me. It brings home the gravitas of the CFO role and I always find myself slightly relieved when Transnet CFO Anoj Singh is in an upbeat mood when he meets me there.

As former award winners, Singh and CFO of the Year 2014 Ridley feature in this very first South African CFO Magazine, along with fellow winners Colin Brown (Super Group), John King (EOH) and Aarti Takoordeen (JSE Limited). Most of you will have spotted the latter on the cover by now. The choice wasn't arbitrary, as I believe that Aarti stands for innovation, inspiration and transformation - all the things any South African CFO should aspire to.

As editor of CFO.co.za, the African web hub for everything CFO-related, I am also pleased that the magazine contains contributions by experts who regularly feature online, like Professor Alex Watson, who has written a thought-provoking piece on financial disclosure. Other highlights for me are the interviews with retiring FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana, Africa-expert and MTN CFO Brett Goschen and public sector ace Rofhiwa Irene Singo.

CFO South Africa's MD Melle Eijckelhoff has written some insightful pieces on themes that bind this issue, like Finance transformation and strategy execution. It was his vision and that of his partner-in-entrepreneurship Alex van Groningen that launched CFO South Africa. If I had to count the number of CFOs who have told me in the last two years how much they have benefited from our events - and how much fun they've had, I'd have enough testimonials to fill a book. I can assure you the pleasure was entirely ours. We are already excitedly planning our 2015/2016 schedule, which is packed to the brim with events for private and public sector CFOs!

I hope you will enjoy reading the magazine as much as we enjoyed making it. Some reads will inspire you, some will challenge you. Some articles will be exciting to read, some will be slightly daunting. But that comes with the territory, when you have a view from the top.

  • This article was previously published on page 8 of the first ever CFO Magazine, launched in May 2015. The next issue is due out in November. If you want to advertise in the CFO Magazine or tell your story during an interview, please email [email protected].
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