Finance execs discuss courage, prioritising people and work-life balance at CFO Dinner at Tryn

Cape Town CFOs appreciated the opportunity to gather, share and unwind after a long 20 months.

On Wednesday 10 November, a group of CFOs gathered for an interactive and in-person dinner at the Ruby Room at Tryn. The event was hosted by CFO South Africa, and made possible with the generous support of Standard Bank.

The CFOs in attendance enjoyed a delectable dinner, served in a private room, and this, coupled with the gorgeous setting against the backdrop of the Steenberg wine estate, gave the evening an air of celebration.

After the complexities of the past 20 months, the CFOs were delighted at the opportunity to interact with their peers. The purpose of the evening was for the finance executives to share the stories, concerns and successes of the finance function during Covid-19 and the related lockdowns, with others who know exactly what it was like.

One of the points raised was that the buzzwords of resilience and agility don’t tell the whole story. In fact, courage was the unsung hero of the past two years. And courage in this context was defined by one of the CFOs as, “not meaning you have the answers – it just means that you stay with it and get on with it”.

Another CFO added that under the circumstances, it’s important to “make big, bold, courageous calls – and if they don’t work out, learn and pivot”.

Getting on with it was further clarified into the specific learnings that emerged, with one CFO stressing that he learnt the importance of looking at markets and cashflow.

The opportunities that arose from the lockdown period were also highlighted – especially those in the small businesses now coming into the market, providing acquisition opportunities for bigger business.

The CFOs also discussed the importance of taking care of employees and of customers, before shareholders – pointing out that if you get the people aspects of the business right, shareholder value will follow.

The finance executives did share that while they felt responsible for their teams’ work-life balance during Covid-19, they were sometimes unable to extend the same support to themselves. They compared notes on how they achieve something like balance in their lives, and collectively committed to doing more of that.

These were the CFO Dinner attendees:

  • Brian Chivere, community manager CFO South Africa
  • Clive Potter, head: client coverage SA, CIB, Standard Bank
  • Cobus Loubser, CFO Curro Holdings
  • Georgina Guedes, editor-in-chief CFO South Africa
  • Hajra Karrim, CFO Oceana Group
  • Hennie Nel, CFO Santam
  • Laila Razack, CFO Equites Property Fund
  • Mary-Anne Musekiwa, CFO Coronation Fund Managers
  • Sean Smuts, CFO Pura Beverages
  • Mthokozisi Dlamini, head: client coverage Cape Town, CIB, Standard Bank
  • Zaid Moola, head, CIB SA, Standard Bank

Despite the diversity of the industries and businesses represented, the CFOs were united in their collective concerns about steering the business through unprecedented times, bearing the responsibility for the finance function, which keeps the rest of the business – and its people – in operation.

Despite the often-serious nature of the discussion, the CFOs relaxed in one another’s company, assisted in no small measure by the great food, fantastic wine, and gorgeous setting. After an extended period with few community events, they expressed their deep appreciation for the opportunity to interact, share and learn from one another.