Andrew Cartledge

CFO, WiseTech Global

Tell us a little about your career path

I joined GE after graduating university and started on their graduate entry financial management program. I moved from the UK to Holland a year after starting and then kept moving with GE for the next 25 years. I spent three years with their corporate audit staff, constantly travelling and working with each business group on four month audits. I’ve been CFO for a number of businesses and regions as well as working at HQ for GE’s Energy business as the Head of Group FP&A. I spent nine years in the US and my last of 12 moves was to Australia in 2011 as the CFO for GE Australia and New Zealand. I joined WiseTech in 2015 with an opportunity to take a business through an IPO and develop as a listed company CFO.

And your education?

I grew up in the North of England and studied Accounting and Finance at University in Manchester.

How has the CFO role changed over the last decade?

The pace of change has gone from frequent to constant. The business environment, the way we run our finance function and the level of support our businesses require has all shifted up several orders of magnitude.

What role do you see the CFO playing in innovation?

Lots – CFOs have great experiences, usually from different business cycles and different industries. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. We are strategic partners to our business leaders.

What skills does that demand?

The biggest thing I see is keeping an open mind. Make judgements based on facts after weighing up both the pros and cons. It’s easy to come up with why an idea won’t work or why it’s risky. Write those thoughts down and then make another list of how you would overcome those risks and turn the challenges into opportunities.

What further changes do you anticipate?

The speed of change will increase. CFOs will therefore need to stay ahead of new developments. Hire people on your team that have contemporary skills and can lift the knowledge level of the whole team. Keep everyone learning.

How far out can a CFO plan, given the pace of change at present?

It depends on how fast your business is growing and the industry is changing. You’ve got to have models for what the next 3-5 years looks like under different scenarios. What will happen in the business, how the finance team needs to evolve, what people do you need on your team, what skills do they need, how do they get those skills, what are your succession plans?

And what are the implications of that planning horizon?

Most of the time things don’t work out the way you planned, so you have to be constantly looking forward to see what’s coming and be able to pulse if your plans need to change and evolve. Don’t get stuck trying to implement plans that have become outdated or superseded.

Why do you mentor?

I get to pass on a little of my experience and also learn from my mentees. Mentoring was a significant part of my roles at GE.

What was the best advice you ever received?

Stop doing the things you enjoy and do the things that are hard, you’ll learn more. Also get out of the way of your team and let them do their jobs, you’ll get more done and they will enjoy their work more.

How do you ensure you and your skills remain current?

Read, listen, watch and learn from others. Use your network

What is the best business book ever read, and why?

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. It’s a pretty simple concept and I was working in a manufacturing plant as a cost accountant at the time I first read it, so it had a lot of cross over to my role at the time. The more experience I’ve gained I see opportunities to use its ideas frequently.

What was the best advice you ever received?

Don’t try and do everything everyday, you’ll always have a to-do list bigger than your capability.

Can you share a personal productivity tip?

Take time to think. Go find a conference room, take a note pad and pen, turn off your phone, leave the computer/email at your desk and shut the door. Just think for an hour, you’ll be surprised how quickly you solve problems that have been bugging you for weeks and also how you put structure to your ideas and plans.

Interested? Learn more about our Mentoring Program.

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