CFO Live 2019: Common Financial Optimism

This year’s AFR CFO Live event in Sydney was a welcome opportunity to explore the various challenges financial leaders face. I was lucky enough to be a panellist, but simply being in attendance really helped me understand my roles as a CFO, despite its ever-changing purpose.

The event kicked off with a keynote from Minster of Finance, Mathias Cormann. The primary takeaway from his speech was optimism, as he highlighted figures of national employment, wage, and economic growth.

CFO Live’s early morning agenda maintained a macro scope, exploring wider financial-leadership issues that affect us all, the changing state of CFO roles and expectations, and the importance of sustainability.

The middle of the day was focused on technology, particularly looking at disruption as a catalyst of transformation in finance. This part of the day included my panel with CFOs Nick Hawkins of IAG, and Gillian Larkins of ASX, plus AFR’s Professional Services Editor, Edmund Tadros.

Our panel discussed the impact of digital transformation on financial leadership and how data analytics is reshaping the way we understand business. I noted that technology has democratised all executive roles – finance included. What we’ve seen through disruptive technologies is a shift from executives’ requisite skills from ‘specialised and niche’ to ‘holistic and adaptive’.

Since most new technologies enable greater communication and connectivity across businesses and branches, leaders can gain more comprehensive company oversight. With a more extensive view of the business, leaders are more involved in strategic planning, regardless of their role or department.

SAP is a great example of how technology is changing executive roles drastically. Our global CFO Luka Mucic, began his career with SAP in the corporate legal department and has since held a series of financial leadership roles, overseeing all finance, controlling, and commercial functions for SAP SE. His legal expertise, particularly in mergers and acquisitions, led him into the financial space while technology helped fill any experience gaps.

The CFO Live event was a rich day filled with valuable insights from across different industries and experiences. While we all share a common purpose within our role as CFOs, we all have different understandings about what that role means to our respective organisations. This event helped create common ground the unify our vision.

While we may come from different backgrounds and sectors, we’re all responsible for the financial well-being of our businesses and none of us are immune to the rapid pace of technological change that is redefining our job as financial leaders.

It was a real thrill being able to link up with different financial leaders to discuss their experiences, their learnings, and their hopes for the future. I was especially happy to see a strong representation of women – almost half of the speakers/panellist were female financial leaders who’ve thrived in their respective sectors.

I walked away from CFO Live hopeful. Technology is pushing the possibilities of our role and growing diversity is bringing in new viewpoints, ideas, and capabilities. SAP will continue sponsoring thought-leadership summits like CFO Live as our brand is dedicated to helping the world run better by improving the lives of others. Events like these, reaffirm that mission – providing a diverse spectrum of experiences and practices to help bring our industry forward.

This article was originally published on Linkedin.