Thinking about the future at the 2016 CFO Awards

Amid the glitz and glamour of the finance industry's most prestigious event, a clear message of preparing for the future emerged.
Issued by Futuresense
Johannesburg, May 31, 2016

The spectacular CFO Awards Conference and Gala Dinner took place on 12 May 2016 at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

Organised by CFO South Africa, the event was chaired by entrepreneur Vusi Thembekwayo and attended by 250 CFOs and prominent leaders from the business and public sectors. The event started with a masterclass and a series of high-level round-table discussions, followed by a gala dinner.

The dinner kicked off with a keynote speech by Chancellor Wiseman Nkuhlu of the University of Pretoria, South Africa's first black chartered accountant and role model for many finance professionals. Nkuhlu then handed out lifetime achievement awards to Leon Crouse (Remgro) and Simon Ridley (Standard Bank), who recently retired from their long careers as finance leaders.

At the end of the evening, Reeza Isaacs, group finance director of retailer, Woolworths Holdings, was named South Africa's CFO Of The Year.

As strategic partner to many CFOs, Futuresense paid close attention to the messages these leading CFOs and business leaders imparted during the event.

Futuresense provides essential financial information to the CFO office through the delivery of a platform on which to analyse complex information cleverly and present it effectively. By reporting to the CFO, Futuresense helps them make better decisions that create a better future for their companies. So, better understanding the mindset of leading CFOs was a clear objective for Futuresense on the night.

"It's not what you see, it's how you interpret what you are seeing," American-born baseball player and coach turned business performance coach, Brian Farley, told the assembled audience at the masterclass session.

Keith Coats, founding partner of TomorrowToday Global, also took a turn at the podium, getting CFOs thinking with his ideas about change, the future, and how leaders need to adapt in order to survive. "Turbulence is the new operational norm... we are living in disruptive times. The majority of our future will be shaped by things we cannot predict today," he told the captivated audience.

The problem with the future, said Keith, is that the further you look into it, the fuzzier it becomes. But it's that kind of complexity that you need intelligent frameworks around. "It's about asking the right questions - that's how you ensure a successful strategy. The role of the leader is to ask intelligent questions."

The keynote speech by Chancellor Wiseman Nkuhlu also spoke about the need for CFOs to have the right information to more intelligent decisions for the future of the company. "The CFO should be the first to see signs of emerging deviations from the norm and therefore should be the first to alert the CEO...last, but not least, sloppy financial reporting is another shortcoming that should be avoided at all costs."

During the awards, reporting for the future, and the technology needed to do so, came up again and again by numerous finance leaders.

"It is becoming increasingly important for CFOs today to have access to the right information to make the right decisions. The winner tonight is someone who has been through a massive transformation process to create a finance function that is finance and service-oriented and also future-driven," said Sharon Horsten, Thomson Reuters.

"It is that time where you need to think in terms of the new outlook of this disruptive nature we are in, where the finance and the technology come together to ensure you are driving the business growth and models that are going to drive innovation," said Kholiwe Makhohliso, Oracle.

Through the insights gained at the CFO Awards, it is clear that Futuresense has the right strategic mindset and right technology to partner with CFOs in order to ensure future-driven finance departments that create better futures for their companies.