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On the malice of the day
13.05.2021

Today’s priority for CFOs: embrace and drive change

Change is a fact in our day to day life. 
 
Since the moment we are born, the environment changes around us constantly, and we need to adapt to it. 
 
One of the major factors of living a happy and successful life relays on our ability to embrace those changes. But, unfortunately, when it comes to achieve sustainability and success in everything we do this is not enough, because the dream that most of us have is to anticipate change and driving it within our lives, but the reality is that we can only influence and control certain things and we should learn to adapt to those we have no power over. 
 
My father was in the military. This meant for us that we had to move both nationally and internationally quite often.  I’ve been to eight different schools within twelve years’ time, before going to University so, as you can now guess, change has kind of been imposed into my own self. I now remember how difficult it was for me and how I used to complain to my father because I was jealous of the other kids who had the opportunity of spending their whole childhood with the same friends, teachers, neighbors.  
 
So, it seems only funny to realize now that I’m looking back into those years that they were the biggest contributor to my own personal happiness and success today. That period of my life thought me to adapt to change and not to be afraid of it. This lesson has accompanied me during all my career and it’s something I always try to pass to my family, friends and, of course, work colleagues and teams. Change, even if we don’t usually like it can be very useful.  
 

The inspiring side of the CFOs

During my career, mostly in finance or management roles, I’ve tried to drive change in every organization I’ve worked for. No matter what the position was. Since the beginning, starting as an İnventory accountant to the moment I was named general manager. I always tried to change things to better. It’s the only way to actually improve. 
 
Today I hold the position of CFO at Softline and as such, I’d like to talk a little bit about how CFOs have changed in the past years their own roles and responsibilities.
 
It might not seem like it, as these positions are usually held in the back of the business, but CFOs roles have become a pivotal one in driving change at companies. Even the pace of change in the CFO’s tasks and goals evolves shockingly fast and the range of people that report into the CFO has dramatically increased in the past few years. And what has mostly changed is that those people come from a very different backgrounds today, from procurement to growth and strategy positions to investor relations which, in some companies, tend to be very finance specific. What I’m trying to explain by saying this is that today we, as CFOs, need to adapt but also be prepared to manage all kind of people with different profiles -not only coming from the ‘numbers’ side- and understand that their work is constantly been disrupted by different business circumstances. 
 
In addition to the above, I also want to mention the pace of change of technology and how it’s influencing the CFO role: more than half of the CFO functions or finance functions are at the forefront of digitization, whether it is automation, analytics, robotic processes or data visualization. What this essentially means is that there is need to invest time and a lot of thinking into some of these newer, more strategic, areas while ensuring that we keep the lights on in the traditional finance activities. The biggest tool that will enable us to do that is to take advantage of automation, as well as some of the most revolutionary digital technologies that we are discovering.
 

The evolution of future CFOs

I want to conclude this piece by just writing a few key things I consider important for those who aspire to become great leaders and future CFOs:
 
  • Be a change agent in today’s businesses, don’t sit back doing everything the way it’s always been done. Be creative and look for ways of changing, of constantly improving
  • Be absolutely motivational with your teams, customers, partners
  • Always listen to others, you never know where great strategies might come from
  • Make sure you inspire others. This is essential if you want to lead
  • Understand the importance of cross-functional responsibilities, set the example with daily actions
  • Drive the talent agenda and look beyond the appearances 
 
CFOs’ roles have grown into a unique muscle in any company; I fully believe that charisma and empathy should start to drive this leadership position and should be a top requirement in the future of any business. 
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