The Purpose-driven CFO

Often the tireless pursuit for profit and efficiency can steal away from the purpose of what we do. People are the backbone of any business and it’s vital we support not only those who have been there since day one, but those looking to carry our legacy forward.

At SAP, our purpose is simple, help businesses run at their best so the world can run better and how I lead our finance operations in Australia and New Zealand is no different. Education is a life-long pursuit that doesn’t have to be confined simply to classrooms and lecture halls – furthermore, it shouldn’t be limited by financial means and access.

Since 2013 SAP Australia has been working closely with The Smith Family to provide such access and opportunities to disadvantaged youths. Through The Smith Family’s Cadetship to Career program, we’ve been able to offer these young people real-world training and experience to enter the workforce confidently.

Ruby is currently in her second year of studying finance at university. She started working with us through the cadetship program, which she learned about from a mentor assigned to her by The Smith Family. This opportunity sparked her interest since SAP operates outside of traditional in the banking industry but recognises the value of her financial training and education.

According to Ruby the cadetship is providing her great experience, giving her opportunities to interact and connect with people while giving her the skills and guidance to kickstart her career.

“Before I started this cadetship, I was unaware of what I wanted to do and what was out there,” Ruby explained. “Since starting the cadetship, I’ve been able to decide what I want to do in the future as a career.”

Ruby noted that one of the most important things she gained through her experience is self-confidence. “Even though it was my first time [in the program], everyone at SAP was very understanding and helpful; whenever I wasn’t sure of something and didn’t know who to ask, there were so many people willing to help. I learned that it wasn’t good to keep quiet; it’s better to speak up and ask people when you don’t know something.”

I’m encouraged by stories like Ruby’s because we often forget how daunting it can be transitioning from university to the workforce – especially since Ruby’s development is helping us break the glass ceiling in this male-dominated industry.

A study released by the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency noted that financial and insurance services have the highest gender pay gap of any Australian industry. Australia’s Gender Equality Scorecard revealed the difference in average total remuneration in financial and insurance services was $48,884, putting the industry gap at 30.3 per cent in 2017-2018.

While the wage gap is a real issue within the sector, financial and insurance services is one of the better-placed industries in terms of women in management. Last year the FSI industry saw the largest increase in female managers, climbing up 2.3 per cent to 40.7 per cent in 2017-2018.

I’m proud to see more female representation within finance roles across industries, which is why stories like Ruby’s warm my heart. We all gain valuable knowledge and experience throughout our careers, so being able to share that with the next generation is not only personally rewarding, but it lets me know the future is in good hands.