Zaf Mahomed, McDonald's: Demand more - real leaders are listening


CFO South Africa MD Graham Fehrsen was recently invited to sit in on a monthly meeting of the senior finance leaders from one of South Africa’s largest financial services providers. In this monthly meeting, arranged by the CFO, the senior team gets insight from an expert or leader from outside the business - on this occasion Zaf Mahomed (pictured), CFO of McDonald’s South Africa, who shared some of his experience and insights from his time as the CFO of Ellerines.

Zaf said:

"Finance professionals often feel too busy to invest in learning beyond the required CPD or mandatory learning and so these sessions create focus, energise the team and set the tone for a learning culture."

Zaf shared his views on the role of finance professionals in holding the line on corporate governance, although this topic also lends itself to the wider issues of leadership and professional integrity. Much of the Ellerines story is now available for public consumption in the Myburgh Report, though the report does not give you a sense of the role of the CFO during such a testing time. It's not just a matter of clinging to your finance expertise; it's about holding onto your integrity, remaining calm in the face of untold pressures, and believing to the end that doing the right thing always pays its way.

Graham left the meeting "inspired by the leader who does more than lead inside the business; the leader who stays the course in the most challenging storms". He said:

"Although I've had the privilege of meeting many exceptional CFO leaders, I wondered if it wasn't time we demanded more of leaders who don't act this way. In my view Zaf's message around leadership and professional integrity was relevant not just for the leadership group he spoke to, but for a much wider audience. If your leader isn't thinking about ways to help you grow your knowledge, network and experience then it is time to demand it. Accountability is not just the formal boxes all leaders need to tick, it's also about recognising your responsibility for the development and growth of those you lead. And if nothing else there are CFOs out there doing just that and you should want to work for a leader like that."

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