This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Atlanta Steering Committee member Judy Romano here. To learn more about Judy and her involvement with The Atlanta CFO Leadership Council, check out her LinkedIn profile here!
The Atlanta CFO Leadership Council was launched in January 2015 with a very successful Networking event in Buckhead. The CFO Leadership Council provides great networking opportunity with peers and also offers an educational forum for senior financial executives.
“Habits of Highly Successful CFOs”. We had a great turn out at the Buckhead Club despite the bitter cold.
Our panel included:
Brian Beckwith, CEO, Formation Capital
Scott Dorfman, CEO, Innotrac Corporation
Bruce Duner, CFO, Bomgar Corporation
Sean Barry, CEO, Bridgevine
Christine St.Clare, Board Member, Fibrocell Science and Polymer Group
Here is a sample of some of the questions discussed by the Panel:
What make a CFO successful in his/her role? – The panel members agreed that role clarity is key; the CFO should be forward looking (understanding the past is critical but impacting the future is what is expected from the CFO). He/she should also take calculated risks. A strong and trusted relationship with the CEO is essential as the CEO views the CFO as his co-pilot; expects the CFO to help steer the business. In these situations the CFO many times finds her/himself acting more like a COO. In my most recent role in Europe with McKesson I had a similar role, which I enjoyed immensely. The successful CFO is also viewed as a strategic partner to the CEO. If/when the company is going through major changes and/or transition (going public, acquired by a PE firm, being taken private, etc) the role of the CFO is critical. It is understood that the CFO knows how to get the technical part of the job done, what sets a good CFO apart from a great CFO is his ability to work very closely with the CEO and other key stakeholders as they make decisions shaping the future of the business.
Importance of Communication style – Different communication style is required depending on who the CFO is communicating with. If the company is owned by a PE firm, transparent communication style is expected. The panel agreed that open, candid and frequent communication is a must with leadership to avoid surprises and also to address issues as they arise. Brian Beckwith, CEO Formation Capital used the phrase “Flex Communication Style” is the best – different style for the different audiences. The CFO should also be confident when sharing information with his audience. Brian Beckwith reminded the audience of one pitfall that some CFOs might fall in – not being concise, i.e. sharing TMI – Too Much Information. When communicating CFOs should be short and to the point mostly when the audience is the Board, Investors, Peers or employees.
Building a strong team – The panel urged CFOs to build a very strong team; know what you don’t know and surround you with a team who can “cover” your weaknesses. Sean Barry, CEO of Bridgevine Inc. recommended that CFOs should be allowed to build their own team and make their own decisions about the team. Good documentation of all processes was also recommended. “Hire smarter people than yourself” resonated amongst the panelists.
How can the CFO impact the culture of the company? – Successful CFOs should encourage openness; support the vision of the company and lead by example; should create a fact based company culture and drive accountability based upon meaningful and measurable KPIs. Incentives should be aligned to the long-term success of the company (70% company objective and 30% individual objective achievement was recommended).
There were many other valuable points discussed; the above was intended as a high level summary of the discussion.
In March we have a networking event coming up around March Madness and in April (16th) we will focus the panel discussion on “Building High Performance Teams”.
I look forward to seeing some of you in the Greater Atlanta area at one of these upcoming events!
[Editors Note: A huge thanks to Judy for writing such an excellent piece!]
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Navneet currently serves as a Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer of SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA).
Prior to joining SoftBank, Navneet served in senior corporate officer roles for publicly traded multinational corporations. At CA Technologies, Navneet was Senior Vice President of Finance and Strategic Pricing, where he led treasury, corporate business development, pricing and business unit finance functions. Previously, he was Vice President of Corporate Development and Project Finance as well as Treasurer at SunPower Corporation. Navneet also served in several capacities during his eight-year tenure at Sun Microsystems, most recently as Controller for its Microelectronics Group. He also held finance positions at Hewlett-Packard, Pfizer and Fortistar Capital. Navneet currently serves as a member of the Audit Committee for the board of directors of ARM Holdings, and as board director of SBIA US, SVF Investment Corp. (SVFA), SVF Investment Corp. 2 (SVFB), and SVF Investment Corp. 3 (SVFC). Navneet earned MBA and MEng degrees from Cornell University.
As Chief Financial Officer, David Meline oversees financial, business development and business services functions at Moderna.
Mr. Meline previously served as Chief Financial Officer and EVP at Amgen from 2014 through 2019. At Amgen, he was responsible for all finance, information systems and global business services activities across 100 countries. In this role, Mr. Meline led enterprise-wide transformation while increasing growth and productivity and reducing development cycle time. Prior to Amgen, Mr. Meline spent six years at 3M Company, where he most recently served as CFO and Senior Vice President and was responsible for all 3M financial activities across 70 countries of operation. Previously, Mr. Meline held numerous leadership positions at General Motors, including Vice President and CFO for GM North America. During his tenure at GM, Mr. Meline lived and worked on five continents.
Mr. Meline received his Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Chicago, his Master of Science in economics from the London School of Economics and his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University.