939 episodes

CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.
We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

CFO THOUGHT LEADER CFO THOUGHT LEADER

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.
We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

    SPECIAL EPISODE: Strategic Leadership in Data: Perspectives with Fatema El-Wakeel, PHD

    SPECIAL EPISODE: Strategic Leadership in Data: Perspectives with Fatema El-Wakeel, PHD

    Blending academic rigor with industry acumen- Fatema El-Wakeel, PHD has multiple professional lives inside the data strategy realm.  Her multifaceted career encompasses roles at the University of Cambridge, where she imparts knowledge as a seasoned educator, and at Unilever, where she shapes strategic data initiatives. Fatema also lends her expertise as a non-executive director (Institute of Management Accountants), showcasing her versatility and leadership in diverse settings.
    A crucial aspect of her professional life is the intersection of academia and industry. Fatema champions the idea that academic research can profoundly inform practical solutions, while real-world challenges can drive academic inquiry. This synergy enhances both realms, fostering innovation and effective problem-solving.

    • 34 min
    1,002: Transforming Retail: A Strategic Journey | Joan Hilson, CFO, Signet Jewelers

    1,002: Transforming Retail: A Strategic Journey | Joan Hilson, CFO, Signet Jewelers

    When David's Bridal, a New York City staple, filed for bankruptcy in 2018, Joan Hilson was at the helm as CFO. The experience was a crucible, teaching her invaluable lessons about crisis management and strategic pivoting. "Navigating the bankruptcy of David's Bridal forced me to re-evaluate our strategies and become more resilient," Hilson recalls. This challenging period honed her ability to steer a company through turbulent times, a skill that she would carry forward into her role at Signet Jewelers.
    Hilson's journey toward becoming a strategic leader was shaped by a series of diverse roles across the retail sector. Starting her career at Sterling Jewelers in the mid-1980s, she climbed through the ranks to become the company's first female vice president. Her subsequent tenures at Limited Brands and American Eagle Outfitters provided her with a broad perspective on retail operations and financial management​.
    At Signet, Hilson's strategic mindset has become evident in her emphasis on innovation and digital transformation. Along the way, she has helped the company to navigate the pandemic and championed significant investments in digital capabilities, ensuring that the company remains competitive in an increasingly online world. "Our goal is to offer connected commerce, allowing customers to interact with us whenever and wherever they choose," she explains​.
    Hilson's focus on team development has proved to be another cornerstone of her leadership philosophy. She believes in nurturing talent and creating opportunities for growth, both professionally and personally. "Growing my team and helping them to evolve is as important as achieving our financial targets," she is quick to observe.​
    Joan Hilson’s journey reflects a blend of resilience, strategic foresight, and commitment to innovation—qualities that continue to drive Signet Jewelers forward in a very competitive market.

    • 37 min
    1,001: Building Teams and Breaking Boundaries | Julien Lafouge, CFO, Spendesk

    1,001: Building Teams and Breaking Boundaries | Julien Lafouge, CFO, Spendesk

    Angola might not top the list of destinations to which executives typically flock to build their careers, but for Julien Lafouge, it was the starting point of an extended journey. Back in 2001, Lafouge stepped into a pivotal finance leadership role with Technip, a technology provider to the energy industry. The unconventional geography forced him to develop a keen sense of resilience and adaptability, traits that would become cornerstones of his career.
    Lafouge's journey from the complexities of a country marked by political instabilities to his current role as CFO at Spendesk is a testament to his knack for building teams and uprooting borders. At Spendesk, he faced the task of restructuring the finance organization to support rapid growth. Drawing on his experience, he emphasized simplification and efficiency, and championed ROI through automation and streamlined processes. The approach, Lafouge tells us, reduced the need for additional accountants by 40%, validating the power of efficient teams.
    One of Lafouge’s standout moments came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was the CFO of ride-sharing company BlaBlaCar. With global uncertainties looming, he built a resilient financial model that ensured the company's survival. His ability to rally his team and navigate through the crisis was perhaps his career's greatest leadership test. 
    Investing in talent development has always been a key part of Lafouge’s philosophy. He believes in transforming "rough diamonds" into top performers through training and mentorship. This approach not only strengthens the team but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and resilience.
    Lafouge’s journey has been marked by the pursuit of new experience, whether it’s through leveraging AI for operational improvements or raising customer service standards. His career has centered on building teams and breaking boundaries, as he has continually pushed the envelope to drive financial efficiencies.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    ON LOCATION: Among the Planning Masses at Perform24

    ON LOCATION: Among the Planning Masses at Perform24

    Planful CEO Grant Halloran shares his insights on the current state of AI adoption in the enterprise, emphasizing the need to temper excitement with reality. He highlighted the importance of understanding legal and security aspects, listening to customers, and pacing AI development with their ability to use it effectively. Halloran also discussed the potential of AI to transform business processes, emphasizing the importance of a human-AI partnership and the need for customers to adapt to using the API and learn new ways to do things.
    Planful CFO Dan Fletcher discusses the role of finance leaders in the age of AI. CFO Fletcher emphasizes the need for data governance and security, and stresses the importance of investing in knowledge and training to mitigate risk. Fletcher highlights the significance of preparation and experience in shaping his perspectives on AI, while drawing on his investment background. referencing his past conversations on AI-related topics.
    Interviews featured in this episode include:
    Mike Petrauskas, Sr. Financial Analyst, Hilb Group
    Sr. Financial Analyst Mike Petrauskas of the Hilb Group discusses his efforts enhance the budgeting and forecasting processes of this dynamic ownership group of more than 80 insurance agencies. Hilb Group is aiming for a 5% EBITDA forecast accuracy. Petrauskas emphasizes the importance of better predicting when they will receive payments. NOW LISTEN
    James Muscat, Group Commercial Finance & FP&A Director at Ten Lifestyle Group Plc
    FP&A Leader James Muscat explains how Ten Lifestyle Group underwent a digital transformation to bring finance to the forefront as a strategic partner. Muscat also shares insights on transforming finance through technology, including the evolution of the role of finance professionals and the adoption of AI. NOW LISTEN

    • 36 min
    1000: When Culture Informs Strategy | Tucker Marshall, CFO, J.M. Smucker & Co.

    1000: When Culture Informs Strategy | Tucker Marshall, CFO, J.M. Smucker & Co.

    At just 16, Tucker Marshall unsuccessfully sought a humble beginning at The J. M. Smucker Company—not in the back office but on its lush grounds, hoping to cut grass. Such an early rejection—due to a company policy favoring employees’ families first—did little to deter him. Instead, it left with him an indelible admiration for the company’s culture and its loyalty to its extended family.
    Marshall’s career trajectory—although certainly not linear—has been a master class in preparation and perseverance. Redirecting from his initial pursuit of a career in medicine after having fallen in love with economics, he embarked on a formidable journey down the corridors of finance. Starting in Chicago, he cut his teeth on investment banking and credit analysis at ABN AMRO, now part of Bank of America. This formative period honed his financial acumen, which led him to delve deeper into the intricacies of corporate finance and investment.
    Transitioning into private equity further expanded his horizons, immersing him in the operational dynamics of various industries from steel to automotive. Each role was a building block, enriching his understanding and skill set and preparing him for the strategic financial leadership that would define his later career.
    In 2012, coming full circle, Marshall finally joined Smucker’s, a company that had long stood as a beacon in his community. Rising through the ranks, he became CFO in 2020, at a time when strategic financial leadership had become more crucial than ever. Under his stewardship, Smucker’s finance function evolved beyond traditional roles, emphasizing strategic partnerships across the company, fostering growth, and enhancing shareholder value—principles far from the mind of a young man in the same place who once dreamed of simple summer days spent mowing luscious lawns.

    • 47 min
    999: A Bias For Action | Jason Godley, CFO, Xactly

    999: A Bias For Action | Jason Godley, CFO, Xactly

    On a remote Wyoming cattle ranch, young Jason Godley faced a dire situation: the baler attached to his tractor suddenly caught fire. Alone, with no immediate help and devoid of modern conveniences like cell phones, 12-year-old Jason had to think quickly and act decisively. His decision to drive to a neighbor’s house to use their hose not only extinguished the fire but also preserved the surrounding fields. This incident on the ranch, Godley tells us, instilled a lifelong “bias for action” and an ability for “independent thinking,” themes that would profoundly shape his professional ethos and success.
    Jason’s journey from the plains of Wyoming to the corporate boardrooms of global finance began at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he dealt with complex international finance and technical accounting in Denver and Paris. The skills cultivated during his youth—swift decision-making and self-reliance—proved invaluable as he navigated diverse business environments and cultures.
    These traits became even more crucial as Jason ascended to the role of CFO at Xactly. Here, his bias for action and independent thinking enabled him to drive strategic initiatives, particularly in improving sales and marketing efficiency. By dissecting and refining operational levers, Jason applied his ranch-learned pragmatism to enhance corporate performance and alignment, demonstrating how foundational experiences can echo through a career, influencing leadership style and business outcomes.

    • 51 min

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