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Special report


The Securitas CEO Bart Adam ensures the company’s DNA is built into its business strategy.


key lessons that every CFO or business leader should take to heart.


“First of all, everything in the company is about people,” Adam explains. “The people are really your key ingredient to anything that you want to achieve, be that working with clients, introducing technology, becoming more efficient: you need to have the people on board.”


“The second thing I have learned is really that you need to stick to your DNA. Because your strategy is something else. That’s about saying what are you heading for in the future – but it’s so important that you understand your DNA as a company.” In Adam’s view, that means understanding your strengths and weaknesses. “It’s important that when you decide on a strategy, you keep the DNA of the company in mind – because if the strategy does not relate to the DNA it will not be successful.”


Tech savvy Naturally, technology was central to many of these discussions. For instance, a distinguished panel of experts met to discuss the importance of transformative technologies – and how tech can drive genuine change. Michel Hofland, group financial controlling director at the Urgo Group, argued that CFOs find themselves in the middle of a revolution. “That revolution impacts both the back office but also the front office, in relation to our customers internally and externally,” he said. “There are new functionalities that have developed at a tremendous pace in the last ten years – and they are still accelerating around automation, easier collaboration and advanced analytics. Everything is brought about by cognitive technologies. And this will not only impact our administrative processes, but also everything that has to do with information and decision-taking.”


This transformation was illustrated by David


Wray, global accounting and reporting senior director, group accounting at Huawei Global Finance (UK), who told the panel that, for him, the core issue


Finance Director Europe / www.ns-businesshub.com


when deciding on a transformation strategy isn’t cost – but usefulness. “We have [a] different perspective in terms of how we approach finance transformation and automation,” he explained. “What we look at is whether or not we can take out redundancy in process – and frankly ask whether we are able to restructure jobs so that employees have more meaningful roles and can contribute more to business partnering and the greater use of analytics.” Wray gave an example of how tech has changed how finance works at Huawei. “If you can imagine it’s walking into the equivalent of an auditorium and you see floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall completely covered in screens. And now imagine that you operate in more than 170 countries and you’re the person who’s lucky enough to have responsibility for the month- end close – and you’ve got to make sure that close is happening in all of those entities with the hundreds of systems and interfaces that go along with it.” Huawei’s solution, in other words, has completely automated the global coordination of month-end processes, so that the finance team can easily get a visual representation of what’s happening across the entire group. “They can see what interfaces have potential issues and which ones might have reconciliation issues,” Wray added.


“So they can parachute in teams to go and help any kind of close-related challenges or issues whether their resource constraints bottlenecks or it to basically go troubleshoot those and solve them so that the close process happens within a couple of days with all errors looked at.” It’s clear that companies are starting to build digitalisation into their DNA. Wray’s contribution combined much of the wisdom on display at the symposium: the determination to harness technology to underpin performance improvement, the openness to innovation and new ideas, and the drive towards greater visibility of future outcomes. Judging by the CFOs in attendance, then, the future is in safe hands. ●


<60%


Just under 60%, report that demand for their businesses’ products and services has already returned to pre- pandemic levels or will do so by the end of this year. Deloitte


23


JHEVPhoto/T.Schneider/Shutterstock.com


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