There was a time when a cutthroat, Wolf of Wall Street style CFO was not only par for the course, but preferable. Terms like ‘emotional quotient’ and ‘servant leadership’ hadn’t yet hit the CEO role, let alone the CFO role. But times, as Monsieur Dylan once said, they are a-changin’...
From PwC to McKinsey to recruitment research firms, the verdict is in: the CFO role is no longer just about the bottom line – and it hasn’t been for some time. But in recent years, with Brexit, leadership kerfuffling, cost-of-living rises, pandemic legacy issues dogging our every step, it’s now more than ever that the top fiscal dogs in every organisation must be more than just a number cruncher, or even a number strategist.
Christian Jennings, CFO at Virgin Experience Days, said that the pandemic meant finance operating with transparency to give reassurance.
“During the pandemic, finance quickly became the go-to team, and as CFO, I stepped even further forward in the business. “The finance function needed to speed up cash flow forecasting and focus on stakeholder communications,” he explains. “People were looking to us for reassurance, and we had to be accurate, logical and transparent in order to give confidence that the business was going to be able to weather COVID-19 and look after their customers and employees in the process. We had to speed up our forecasting and make quick but well-considered decisions.”
So what did that mean for Jennings, whose previous roles at Zoopla and Moonpig put him in good stead for stepping into his role with Virgin?
He said he works with his team now to ensure the finance function engaged and motivated as a team. Succession planning is important to him, and he is focused on developing his team so that any member could potentially step up into a managerial role – a move that speaks of true leadership, rather than just a myopic view of the calculator.
It would be great to see businesses future-proofing their finance teams by equipping the next generation of CFOs
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