It’s not like anyone in finance walks around all day thinking, “I’m a global citizen!” How they work on a day-to-day basis, however, should say a lot about how international their perspective has become.
A possible role model in this regard is Shyrose Janmohamed, CFO of TFS – Canada’s International School (formerly Toronto French School). She was among those recently profiled by Canada’s Globe & Mail in a special series about changes in the finance department at major organizations. She suggested that while a lot of the forecasting and analysis CFOs and their teams do focuses on internal or local information, true leadership in this area demands keeping a close eye on what’s happening all over the world.
“It’s more than just numbers. You sit right next to people and create budgets collaboratively because everybody needs to be on the same page,” she told the newspaper. “Gone are the days where the finance people sit in their offices, crunch the numbers and dole out money.”
The question is, how do you achieve that kind of global outlook? It’s not just enough to stay on top of the daily news, obviously. There are lots of sources of information, but the first step is really ensuring you have the tools and infrastructure to properly manage a range of data sources that touch on myriad factors that could influence business performance.
The next step might easily be overlooked, but a recent report from Deloitte is trying to make sure CFOs give it more attention. This is what the consulting firm describes as setting a “talent agenda” for finance. This involves hiring the right people, of course, but also thinking deeply about how you manage them and arm them with the techniques that will establish a strong development and succession plan. One approach stood out to Deloitte in particular:
Experiential learning is very powerful. It enables executives to develop their own tacit knowledge and expertise in context. It shifts from theory and exposure to learning by action and having to respond to the consequences of their individual choices . . . What was important was having “a great boss” and a sponsor who put the individual through a learning-by-doing experience versus being just a mentor.
Finance teams learn quickest – and best – by getting hands-on with data and the processes that shape decisions. This, in turn, will lead them to look more broadly at the landscape they work in, far beyond the confines or an office or cubicle.
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