Any time finance leaders can get together in one space is valuable, and the World Finance Forum’s (WFF) event in New York City this week served as an opportune space for CFOs to do so. The event’s discussions showed the intricacies of challenges finance leaders face heading into the new year. And, regardless of the industry, finance leaders benefit from seeking one another for advice.
Below are some of the most impactful comments these leaders made, which we at CFO had the opportunity to hear.
Leonard Williams, former CFO, The Nature Conservancy
When discussing properly leveraging data, Leonard said, “There are two incredibly important elements when it comes to data. One, there needs to be a single version of the truth around the data. Everyone must be on the same page about what the data is saying.
“And two, you need to have a sense of who the audience is that is looking at the data, and what they are looking [for/from] that data.”
Matthew Novick, CFO, Guideline
In regards to economic uncertainty, Matthew said, “CFOs need to be ready to do more with less, should the situation demand it. Technology is the only way to make that possible. We need to be ready for economic uncertainty, even if that means being prepared to let go of some of your team members. We have a plan in place if we were to have to cut our team in half. CFOs have to be prepared for these kinds of things.”
When discussing collaboration, Matthew also said, “Read the room. When it comes to collaboration, don’t approach it as ‘I’m going to do your job,’ approach it as ‘I’m going to partner with you to make you more efficient.’”
Yoana Land, CFO, L’Oréal Transformations
In regards to ESG, Yoana said, “We have to integrate our agendas in order to properly address ESG. Short-term ROI and long-term [goals] need to be approached together. If you’re doing business in Europe, you need to be aware of these types of disclosures, because it’s already law over there and the U.S. [regulators] may be soon to follow.”
Chris Ortega, CEO and fractional CFO, Fresh FP&A
Ortega noted as well regarding ESG that “there are three lines CFOs need to worry about in today’s world. There's the top line, the bottom line, and the green line. The green line, your ESG disclosures and initiatives, may soon become just as important as the other two have always been in our roles.”
Ilana Esterrich, CFO, Planned Parenthood
When discussing how to drive revenue through collaboration, Ilana said, “Previously, our organization has been remarkably siloed. It’s something I have been working on since I started here ... We don’t make widgets or technology [to sell], we fundraise. But with us, finance has the most visibility [to improve using technology]. We’re going beyond just the table stakes in order to fully modernize our teams.”
Lorenzo Banfi, CFO, Campari Group
In regards to the creation of global partnerships, Lorenzo said, “Try to show that you know what you’re talking about [when meeting with international business partners]. Understand how they do business. If you want to have their buy-in and want to understand how to get their buy-in, you have to do it by understanding their culture first.”
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