Seven CFOs on preparing the next generation to fill their shoes

The role of mentoring is becoming increasingly important in an ever-changing work environment.

Today’s working world is all about being future-ready. A big part of serving on a company’s C-suite, is the mentorship you provide to people who will one day be filling your shoes. 

CFO South Africa asked the 2019 CFO Awards Nominees to describe the role mentoring and coaching plays in their working week. This is what some of them had to say:

Capitec CFO and winner of the Compliance & Governance Award and the Finance & Technology Award André du Plessis mentors a lot of people and often gets the compliment that they learn a lot from him. “I think the most important thing is to take people and guide them through the process of what they need to do.” 

If someone needs exposure to credit, André invites them to read through the company’s credit documents and invites them to a meeting to see what his team does. Afterwards, he asks them why he insisted on x or z. 

“I am very straightforward. It makes some people uncomfortable. But if I see something that someone is doing wrong, I will talk to them about it. I believe that if I know something or think something, it’s no use in my head. I will share it with you, and you can do whatever you want with it. I use that a lot in my mentoring style,” he says.

Standard Bank Group FD and winner of the Moving Into Africa Award Arno Daehnke (pictured) believes the role of coaching and mentoring is becoming increasingly important as the pace of change to embrace the fourth industrial revolution increases.

“Our teams and employees work in a fluid and constantly changing work environment and need to respond in an agile manner to these changing demands. Coaching and mentoring assists in navigating this dynamic environment. We make use of external as well as internal coaches. Within the finance team, we recently launched a coaching training course, which helps our staff become successful coaches and mentors. The take-up rate of the coaching training course has exceeded our expectations, and is clear evidence that our finance teams recognise the importance of coaching and would like to develop this important skill.”

RH Bophelo CFO Dion Mhlaba says, in his environment, there are complex regulations and the duration of closing a deal is long. “We have to comply with competition and health regulations. In this environment, of deal-making, the workload and volume for staff members is a lot. Without appearing like I am micro-managing, sometimes I would check if members of my team are coping. Very few people are looking at whether junior staff are coping and whether they need support. With new and different transactions, I prefer to discuss the deal and what we should all look out for. That is where mentoring is important, it builds confidence and encourages dialogues.”

Santam CFO Hennie Nel loves mentoring. “That’s the one thing that really gives me energy,” he says. “In my previous life, I was in an auditing firm and I just love seeing young people coming in, going through and then leaving as great professionals. It’s the same at Santam. As I said, I do one-to-ones to look at what we can do differently and to find out what they think.”

Twenty people have a cup of tea with Absa group FD Jason Quinn every month and talk about life and how careers and relationships are built. “We see a correlation with the success rate of how these colleagues get promoted and contribute to the firm. It’s amazing to see. I take the mentorship aspect quite seriously.”
 
Former Masimong and Royal Bafokeng Holdings CFO Nakedi Ramaphakela says: 

“I like to mentor other people. We had a few trainees coming on the CA programme. There was a lot of coaching and mentoring – not only on work but also general life skills. Teaching people how to engage in a meeting is important, as some of these individuals come straight from varsity. I like to have conversations with my team around what they love to do and what their ambitions are.”

Phembani Group sets KPIs for the year to determine bonuses and increases. Phembani Group CFO Sizwe Nkosi’s team knows the CAGR of 12.5 percent. Each person plays a part in this big picture and it becomes described in their job description. 

“I also believe in training staff and sending them to career development programmes. I haven't been good at getting my team into professional associations such as CFO South Africa and the Institute of Directors (IOD), to make sure that they are ready for the next level. That is something that I am planning to do this year, making sure that my financial manager, who has an MBA, attends courses from IOD,” he says.