Rebuilding reputations – CFOs who’ve set their businesses on a new path

These CFOs were given the daunting task of turning organisations around and won.

Ryan McDougall (pictured) returned to South Africa after spending five years in Namibia. He was trying to find his feet and wasn’t sure what he really wanted to do. Ryan pursued several opportunities before landing the opportunity of a lifetime when he was approached by KPMG South Africa to become its new CFO. This was a good opportunity at a bad time because KPMG was facing serious reputational challenges as a result of its connections to the commission into state capture and work with VBS Mutual Bank.

Many people close to Ryan were sceptical of him taking the job, but instead of avoiding the challenge, Ryan decided to face it head on and devise a plan to turn things around. “A lot of people were quite reticent about my decision to take on the new role because KPMG South Africa was in the news for all the wrong reasons,” he said.

However, Ryan had a great deal of loyalty towards the organisation, having done his articles at KPMG and being a recipient of a bursary that put him through most of his university studies.

“When I had the opportunity to come back to KPMG, I felt that it was a good chance to make an impact and do something meaningful,” he says. “I had the opportunity to work in a finance department that required leadership and had to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

Ryan first had to understand what was already in place in the finance function at the time, before building on it by putting people in the right places and putting the right structures in place.

After laying the groundwork, he set about improving the finance function by bringing in more digital experience, adopting a more agile approach to reporting financial data, and training employees to ensure they understand their jobs are more than just pushing paper around.

Ryan accomplished this through a 100-day plan that included a three-tiered approach of analysis, design, and implementation, as well as reorganising roles within his department. “Overall the changes led the organisation closer to understanding the value of accurate and timely financial data that could be used to plot a determinable path to success,” he said.

Read more: Ryan McDougall chasing opportunities in South Africa

Doing good business
EOH’s reputation suffered a setback in 2019 when an ENSafrica investigation revealed a web of corruption, bribery, and overpayment, resulting in a R1.3 billion loss in 2020. The technology services group, on the other hand, was steadfast in its determination to turn things around and make a R150 million profit in 2021.

According to EOH CFO Megan Pydigadu, the turnaround is largely due to higher-than-expected earnings and a massive turnaround strategy. “Massive swing speaks to the quality earnings EOH has managed to achieve, whilst simultaneously executing on a monumental turnaround operation,” she said.

Megan added that EOH has also made significant strides in simplifying the business by bundling complementary offerings to better serve customers with its end-to-end capability and create long-term cost savings.

Read more: Doing good business pays off as EOH goes from loss to profit