The CFO As Change Manager: Mastering The 21st Century Finance Role

The CFO As Change Manager: Mastering The 21st Century Finance Role

While CFOs face relatively new challenges and responsibilities in the 2020s, from corporate sustainability to digital transformation, they need to learn a deeper and broader truth: The expectations of CFOs have risen almost beyond recognition over the past few decades, requiring a change in mindset. not just new skills. I recently spoke with Robert Bendetti, CFO of Lifecycle Engineering and founder of the Global Finance Council, which helps CFOs share knowledge on how to approach and excel in their jobs in the 21st century.

Jeff Thompson. As the CFO of Life Cycle Engineering, you will be responsible for all of the company's financial operations, including accounting, finance, contracts, purchasing, security, equipment, process automation, and IT. The CFO is expected to play at least some role in all of these areas, but this requires adaptation and development of the skills of more traditional financial leaders. How do you see the CFO role evolving and diversifying throughout your career, and how are you changing with it? What lessons do you have for other CFOs?

Robert Bendetti. When I graduated, the CFO role was all about transactions and background. Now the CFO role is focused on transformation and the future. We are the main future officers. To be successful in the future, CFOs must be experts in change management. Certifications such as CMA [Certified Management Accountant] and Lean Six Sigma training can help you become more efficient and accelerate your career. But to significantly increase the effectiveness of your change management projects, you need to master the human side of change.

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I have had success using Proschi's ADKAR model to manage the human side of change. ADKAR stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and empowerment;

A – Awareness of the need for change.

D – Willingness to participate and support change.

K – Knowledge of change.

A – Ability to practice desired skills and behaviors.

R – Reinforcement to support change.

We need to support the people in the organization as they transition from the current state to the future and understand what it takes to get each person to embrace and embrace change. In this way, organizations can significantly increase the chances of project success and the return on their investment in the project.

Thomas: Process automation and IT are of particular importance to finance, given the trend towards automation of low-level finance tasks and the growing importance of understanding technology issues for finance managers. What technology areas are of greatest interest to future finance and accounting professionals? How should accounting programs and departments better prepare their employees for these technological trends?

Bendetti All businesses are going digital, and CFOs must stay at the forefront of technology. Two areas that I am personally interested in are data analytics and process automation. I'm still in the early stages of becoming an advanced user of tools like Power BI, Tableau, and Amazon QuickSight. But I'm really amazed at the power of these tools to analyze, visualize, extract and share results to manage results in real time.

I am also fascinated by process automation and its impact over the past 20 years. The commercial area (accounting, human resources, purchasing, etc.) was barely recognizable from the start. Process automation, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning are revolutionizing business. But it is important to remember Peter Drucker's famous saying: "There is nothing more useless than doing effectively what should not be done at all." Don't use RPA to automate tasks that shouldn't be done. Use Lean Six Sigma principles to reduce waste and variance; then automate what's left.

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Thomas: With so many changes and disruptions, it's more important than ever that CFOs work together to share ideas and experiences. That is why you are not only the CFO of Life Cycle Engineering, but also the founder of the Global Finance Council. What made you return to the financial profession? What are the benefits of networking and information sharing for CFOs?

Bendetti Global Finance Council is an educational and networking forum for financial leaders. The purpose of the Global Board of Financial Directors is to provide an educational and networking forum for Senior Financial Officers (SFEs) to share best practices, discuss current finance issues and learn about current challenges in doing their jobs. He is a member of the Board of Global Financial Directors [SFE], including the Chief Financial Officer, Comptroller, Vice President of Finance and Treasurer. I started a few years ago and now we have 1500 members in 30 countries.

I consider myself a lifelong student. I like learning new things and meeting new people. In-person and virtual meetings allow me to connect and learn from industry experts. Mahatma Gandhi said that "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." This is a small way to serve the financial community.

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