Talent, culture & leadership

An incredibly important part of adding value as a finance leader is to get a handle on the “soft” issues within your business and this series will bring you the leading insights from successful CFOs and leaders in this field. If there is a competitive advantage to be had in 2017, it may well be here - don’t miss out.

18 July 2016

Insider threats: 10 questions CFOs need to ask - by J2's John Mc Loughlin

CFOs need to actively manage IT risk, says John Mc Loughlin, Managing Director of software company J2: “It is vital that the CFO take an active role in managing this risk – as it appears IT may not have the executive drive to get it done themselves.” In this article, John shares some of the top questions CFOs must ask themselves when dealing with risk management and threats, and before declaring their IT policy as sound.

08 July 2016

How to become the world's most inspiring accountant: a chat to Coenie Middel

"We have always believed passionately in the role accountants play in creating a better world by helping to make businesses more successful, creating jobs and generating wealth," says Coenraad 'Coenie' Middel, whose firm Middel & Partners has been named as one of the most inspiring accountancy practices in the world and has been included in the recently published ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Accountants’ by author Steve Pipe.

28 June 2016

A humble CFO is a successful CFO, says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics

“For me, being a successful CFO is not even technical; it’s about being humble. The role can go to your head and that creates drama,” says Lauren Van Zyl, Divisional CFO of Eqstra Fleet Management and Logistics. “Being humble makes you approachable, and the more approachable you are the more likely staff will be to come to you if there’s a problem, and that’s important.” Lauren, who pursued a career in finance after convincing herself she would never be interested in the industry, heads up a team of 45 staff members, and says the people aspect of the job is as rewarding as it is challenging. “That’s what nobody prepares you for. As a finance person, you’re very comfortable with the numbers, with the technical, but you aren’t comfortable with having so many people report to you, trust you and rely on you.” How did you first get into finance and how did you come to be a CFO? “At school, one of my main subjects was speech and drama. I was convinced I was never going to go into finance. When choosing my studies, I first registered for industrial psychology, but I didn’t even make it through one lecture and realised that wasn’t going to work. I changed my degree and went into Informatics. I was doing really well but realised I didn’t have a passion for it – it didn’t gel with me. I found my way to finance and thought I’d pursue general finance, believing there was no chance I’d do a CA. But at that moment I realised I would be stopping just before the finish line, so I decided to go the whole hog and completed my B.Com (Accounting) Honours, and then my articles through Deloitte. After my articles I stayed on for a short period, but I decided I wasn’t audit manager material. I was battling with the concept of siting across the table from a CFO and telling him how to run his business when I didn’t know what it was like to be in his position. I wanted to be able to give a CFO advice based on my own experiences. I felt like I needed that foundation.”

13 June 2016

Peace of mind: Integrated Business Management at Lamb Weston / Meijer

"What has Integrated Business Management delivered for Lamb Weston / Meijer (LWM)?" asks CFO Peter van Wouwe - LWM being one of the world's largest companies in frozen potato products, appetizers and dehydrated potato flakes. "Peace of mind, that’s what." In this article, Marco van Alfen, business planning and control expert at consultancy firm EyeOn, unpacks and demonstrates the concept of Integrated Business Management. Integrated Business Management, Integrated Business Planning (IBP), Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), Sales Inventory & Operations Planning (SIOP): these are all terms used to indicate the multidisciplinary process by which demand and supply are tuned in an organisation. This is the most basic point at which they agree. During the eighties, the term S&OP marked this reconciliation process. TF Wallace had the key elements of a good S&OP process as: “… a set of decision-making processes to balance demand and supply, to integrate financial planning and operational planning, and to link high-level strategic plans with day-to-day operations.” In many organisations, however, S&OP became a short-term planning process where the past was more often looked at than the future, and the link with strategy was often missing.

17 March 2016

Local talent in the spotlight at smashing CFO event 'Moving into Africa'

Innovative ways to identify and develop top local talent in African countries were the hottest topic of conversation during an extremely insightful CFO South Africa event about Moving into (the rest of) Africa, hosted by Standard Bank at its impressive Rosebank premises on 16 March 2016. Vibrant CFO panel discussions alternated with insights from experts from Thomson Reuters and Spencer Stuart, while attending CFOs also had the chance to get involved.

14 March 2016

Give African executives opportunity to develop: Pratik Chandaria (Africa Advisory Group)

Contrary to perceptions, there is a strong potential pool of great local business leaders in Africa," says Pratik Chandaria of Africa Advisory Group, a company specialising in recruiting executives and developing the next generation of leadership for Africa. "The strength of the leadership pool is defined by the potential you see in it. This means you have to be willing to give leadership talent the opportunity to develop; particularly in Africa where leadership skill sets are still developing. I rank the pool highly in terms of potential."

09 March 2016

How to succeed in Africa: 5 questions for Kamal Patel (Thomson Reuters)

Local talent, knowledge and understanding of the local context is crucial for businesses to be successful in African countries north of South Africa, says Kamal Patel, Head of Corporates & Partnerships at Thomson Reuters. Kamal is one of the exciting speakers lined up for our CFO event Moving into Africa on Wednesday 16 March 2016. To get to know him we contacted him - during a business trip in Ethiopia! - and asked him five questions.

03 February 2016

Krishnan Raghunathan (WNS): great CFOs have entrepreneurial flair

“A good CFO is an effective controller, but also has an entrepreneurial flair,” says Krishnan Raghunathan, global Chief Capability Officer at business process outsourcing giant, WNS. Krishnan is one of the speakers at CFO South Africa’s Get Smart in 2016 event on 23 February 2016, flying out of India especially for the occasion. In preparation for the event, we spoke to him about his interesting job title, his professional achievements, his take on the position of CFO, and the role finance leaders should play in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), which incidentally is being accepted as Business Process Management (BPM) the world over.

11 January 2016

From the MD: Building a community of practice for CFOs in 2016

In my first 100 days as the MD of CFO South Africa I have been struck by the number of incredible professionals that make up the South African finance eco-system. Finance professionals who reach the top rung, regardless of whether they work in large listed entities, private companies, the public sector or any number of public, academic or non-profit organisations, have by and large arrived there on the back of their finance skills (to state the obvious). But what has struck me most is how many of these professionals are good people too. The very best are filled with humility, courage, conviction, an appropriate dose of vulnerability and very often a clear sense of purpose.

14 October 2015

From the MD: Perspective - an elusive but important career guide

It is easy to get caught up in your day to day grind and never lift your head long enough to see the horizon. Most of us have, at one point or another, found ourselves in that dreaded cycle of counting down the week days wishing for a weekend. If you’re fortunate enough to have a job that is truly fulfilling then it is quite possible that you don’t experience this and may be caught in the trap of not knowing when to “down tools” sufficiently to make time for the rest of your life.

08 October 2015

African FinTech businesses can conquer the world, says IDM's Benay Sager

"FinTech is a fantastic thing, but lenders must be responsible and conduct proper creditworthiness assessments," says Benay Sager, chief operating officer at Intelligent Debt Management. Benay will be on the panel of experts during our upcoming FinTech Africa event in Cape Town on 20 October. Our journalist Ebrahim Moola spoke to him about FinTech's benefits and barriers. "My hope is that many more people will enjoy access to mobile banking technology and not have to go into a branch."

22 September 2015

CFOs are myth busters, says retiring Standard Bank CFO Simon Ridley

“As CFOs we need to be trusted advisors, rather than critics,” says Simon Ridley, CFO at the Standard Bank Group and last year’s CFO of the Year. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, Ridley talks about the myth busting responsibility of CFOs and CAs, the charm of over-disclosing, the reason everybody at the bank knows his mother and about being the perfect business partner: “You can’t just throw stones at a problem.”

21 July 2015

Meet Imraan Soomra (Oceana), winner Transformation & Empowerment Award 2015

Just a few days after this year's CFO Awards, Oceana Group announced a game-changing R4.6 billion purchase of the American fish-meal and -oil specialist Daybrook Fisheries. In his interview with the panel of judges for the awards, CFO Imraan Soomra had already explained that the traditionally conservative fishing company (already Africa's biggest) was planning to use its debt-less and asset-rich position to become a serious player on the global market. After the acquisition of the Louisiana-based Daybrook, Oceana is now the sixth-biggest fishing company in the world.

08 July 2015

Meet Cobus Grove (Digicore), winner Governance & Compliance Award 2015

When Cobus Grove joined Digicore two years ago the company’s share price was a measly 125. After an impressive reorganisation that share price was 325 last December. The success of Grove and temporarily returned founder and CEO Nick Vlok didn’t go unnoticed. Last month, just after Grove was presented the Compliance and Governance Award at this year’s CFO Awards, Nasdaq-listed Novatel Wireless made an offer over R1 billlon on the company – and the share price shot up to 410.

09 June 2015

Meet Bongani Nqwababa (Sasol), winner Finance Transformation Award 2015

After Sasol CFO Bongani Nqwababa had given an impressive and well-received talk about his tenure at Anglo American Platinum during the Stategy Execution round table discussion at the 2015 CFO Awards, he told me he doesn't like to speak off-the-cuff. "As an accountant I am rather big on structure and order," he had already explained during the interview with the panel of awards judges. "When you talk, you can’t do that in free-flow without using key messages and without knowing what you want from a meeting."

02 June 2015

Meet Brett Tromp (Discovery Health), double CFO Award winner 2015

Can someone who introduces a whole new way of reporting - the fourth bottom line - be a CFO? Can somebody who is at the forefront of innovation in the pharmacy industry be a CFO? Can someone with a happy and popular team be a CFO? Or someone who coaches many colleagues and authors articles for magazines for fun? And what about someone who says his church pastor is his example in life or someone who never misses any of his kid's cricket matches? Can he be a CFO?

27 November 2013

Grant Robson and Richard Angus, Directors of The Finance Team: Matching Personalities

“In theory it is not always appropriate to talk about family and private interests during a job interview,” says Richard Angus, CEO of The Finance Team, “but personality and culture fit is critical to a successful engagement, so we do it anyway. In the end, a lot of what The Finance Team does is personality matching, says Angus. “Finding a personal and cultural click between people is essential when it comes to placing finance experts temporarily into any organisation.”

17 April 2012

5 things managers need to know

By now, we know pretty well what works in business and what doesn’t. So why do managers waste so much time and money looking for new answers? Why do they ignore the tools that work, and mess with stuff that won’t make any difference to their results? Whatever business you run, there’s a handful of things you just have to get right in order to deliver growth and profits – and to stay in business. Everything else is a distraction. Here’s the critical few:

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