Finance Indaba hosts finals of The CFO Case Study Competition
The cream of the crop of Africa's aspiring CFOs and business leaders will be competing for a prize of R100,000 during the global finals of The CFO Case Study Competition, hosted at the Finance Indaba Africa 2016. With entries for participants closing in March 2016, we spoke to Valentine Nti, CEO of organiser CharterQuest Institute about the way CFOs, corporate sponsors, professional bodies, universities and business talents of 25 years and younger can get involved.
Where does the idea come from?
“Over the last 10 years our tertiary education has become far too academic, leaving lots of young graduates unable to meet the needs of business. Companies sign up young graduates, only to send them back to pursue a more rigorous professional education path which often involves case studies and scenario assessments. A vast majority is battling to make the mindset transition from the 'what-you-know' type education to the 'what-you-can-do' type the corporate world is looking for. This disconnect is a global phenomenon, but we find it to be an even bigger problem in Africa.”
Graham Fehrsen, MD CFO South Africa: “CFO South Africa has development of finance leaders at its core and the Finance Indaba Africa is a logical progression to widening our efforts to help finance professionals learn and network. When CharterQuest approached us to support the CFO Case Study competition, we were inspired by their story and recognised a fantastic opportunity to support the development of young and aspiring finance professionals."
“In the West and in Asia, big businesses like HSBC, Citibank and Coca Cola invest in case study competitions to scout the brightest young business talents to hire. We have launched this competition, drawing on these global examples to engineer a case study revolution in Africa that will advocate a deeper incorporation of the case study methodology into the curricula and education systems across the continent.”
What is your own experience with case study competitions?
“As a young undergraduate back in 1993/94 I heavily contested class-type ones. During my MBA with De Montfort University in the UK, I participated in major ones. I have often been invited by various global professional bodies to help examine/judge case study exams and contests.”
“In 2014 we established the CharterQuest Case Study Center to promote case study research and build the requisite teaching capability. We then formed Team CharterCapital Advisory to compete at major global case study competitions with myself as the mentor. Our first contest was the Barclays-sponsored CIMA Global Business Challenge. We battled against 52 other teams from some of South Africa's finest universities and won the national finals and represented South Africa at the global finals in Poland in August 2015. There we competed against 26 other top teams such as University of Cambridge (UK), Monash University (Australia) and Singapore Management University – we returned with a top 3 finish for our team leader Tshegofatso Makhene in the category ‘Future Business Leader 2015’.”
What is CharterQuest?
“We are an internationally recognised Institute focussed on grooming financially qualified global business leaders of tomorrow. We help students to become fully qualified Chartered members of professional bodies such ACCA, CIMA and SAICA. We are also active in the corporate education space, helping CFOs and other C-Suit executives with tailored corporate training solutions using the case study methodology. We have about 450 students spread out over campuses in Sandton, Braamfontein and Pretoria – and we are busy setting up shop in Namibia and Cape Town. Our students come from many different countries, including South Africa, the rest of Africa, Europe and the Far East.”
How can corporates get involved in The CFO Case Study Competition?
“As an institute we have put aside money for the prizes, but we are going on a charm offensive now to find more sponsors. If you want to position yourself as a leading business in this space, demonstrate your commitment to skills development in Africa, find young talent and hire them, this is the perfect opportunity to get involved.”
How do you find students and young professionals to participate?
“We are liaising with institutions to field their best team of three – or multiple teams – with an optional mentor. We have just started four weeks ago, but already have had universities from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi and elsewhere signing up. The students can also enter directly and do not have to wait for their institution. Teams from outside Africa can also compete.”
Pat Semenya, MD ACCA South Africa: “The CFO Case Study competition is one of the many platforms we use to show commitment to youth development in this country and to showcase our value. At ACCA, we equip our leaners with business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.”
“We also want to approach CFOs who want to invest in their youngest recruits to encourage them to enter teams. This is a perfect opportunity for CFOs who wish their junior staff was more technically astute, had better report writing skills, work better as team with less supervision and had stronger deadline and big picture orientation.”
“We’ll be very active on social media in the next few months and we are working closely with ACCA and CFO South Africa, which is the leading organisation bringing CFOs together in South Africa. We have also started a charm offensive to get other professional bodies – such as SAICA, CIMA and SAIPA – to join forces.”
Must the teams consist of ONLY accounting majors?
“Not necessarily. In Europe, we see successful teams that are made of students of law, medicines, engineering, IT, journalism, entering business case study competitions and doing fantastic work. The more diverse the team, the better your chances of presenting a well-rounded report and cope with the diverse range of questions the panel of judges will throw at you. The competition is much more about talents than skills and its more about dreams, ambition and drive to succeed than anything else. About 30% of the case study will require some knowledge of accounting, finance and strategy as a typical modern-day CFO will spend about that much time on these matters.”
How does the competition work?
“During round 1 the teams will get a case study comprising the annual report of a real business and a scenario for which they need to provide a business plan or management report. An independent panel will choose the 12 best entries and those will be invited to create a 15 minute video presentation which will be evaluated and 6 will go through. They will be flown to South Africa to participate in the semi-finals and finals at the Finance Indaba Africa in October 2016.”
“Before the teams come to South Africa they participate in round 2, which is aimed at creating a video presentation about their team and learning lessons. The teams should work hard to make their videos go viral and the video that does best on social media will get 2 points credit for the next round.”
“Round 3 is the semi-final, where teams will be paired up against each other, presenting their plans in front of a mock board. The three winners will go through to the final. Round 4 is the global finals which will take place on 13 October 2016 at the Finance Indaba Africa. The teams will be given an extension of their case study, in which new dimensions of the strategic threats, opportunities, weaknesses and ethical dilemmas need to be addressed. They all get three hours to create a PowerPoint presentation and present an action plan to a mock board and take questions. The final winners will be announced at the gala dinner and receive their awards on stage during prime time on the 14 October, on the final day of the Finance Indaba Africa 2016.”
What are the important dates and what other prizes are up for grabs?
“Round 1 starts on 1 March 2016, but teams can still join until 31 March. Besides the main prize of ZAR100,000 for the winners, there are scholarship packages for the runners up. There are also two prizes of R10,000 available for The CFO Brand Ambassador Award and The CFO Social Media Award. These Awards are open to anyone anywhere. More information can also be found on the Get Involved page of the competition. For those who contest and do not get a chance to grab any of these awards, they can look forward to the 2017 edition as this will be an annual showpiece.”