Tell us about your career path.
I have been CFO of ASX for the past eight years. Previously I was the Group Financial Controller of ASX Limited, a position I held since the ASX merged with the Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE) in 2006. I took on the ASX role and reshaped the two individual finance functions into one. Prior to that I was the CFO of an unlisted company providing financial services back office processing having spent a number of years previously with the predecessor bank to JP Morgan
What has been a career high?
I have been fortunate to work for a number of organisations that were new in Australia which meant it was an exciting time and you basically wrote your own job spec as very little was established. This involved setting up functions and hiring staff and setting the strategy for the finance team. On joining ASX post the merger, there was a lot to do in order to blend the two teams and refocus the efforts of the finance team.
Working for a company with two very different partners as shareholders was sometimes difficult, particularly with respect to getting support for initiatives presented to the Board. Probably one of the lows in terms of feeling you have accomplished something.
How is the CFO role transforming?
CFOs must be more than simple gatekeepers of the finances and reporting. In the traditional finance functions CFOs need to better understand and use data to make business decisions and the CFO must be more involved in the strategic direction of the organisation. These involve much broader skills sets than in the traditional CFO functions. Much of this is caused by technology, either assisting the business making or disrupting the business by significantly changing processes or providing the opportunity for new entrants to disrupt existing business models. This transformation not only requires the CFO to have broader skills but means the people supporting the CFO need to adapt to the new skills, including data and analytical skills. In general finance functions will rely less on people performing the gatekeeper function of recording and processing transactions to analysing and providing insights that allow the organisation to meet the challenges within the operating environment. It’s no longer about just being more efficient, but you need to be more insightful.
Are there risks associated with that transformation?
To do these successfully technology will play a greater role in the lives of CFOs. This will vary depending on the organisation and the industry but over time, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) or some form of them will be applied, even in simple forms to analyse, find trends and linkages and help make decisions based on some measurable events. Also technology is usually at the heart of disruption, so keeping abreast of developments is important.
How has your planning horizon changed?
I believe CFOs can still plan out 3-5 years in the future but understand that technologies will change in that time so the ability to be agile and redirect plans quickly will be important. What you can plan on is however that most technology platforms that you introduce or use will likely have a shorter life than previous technologies as the pace of change has accelerated recent periods.
Why do you mentor?
I enjoy mentoring in the FEI program and have been doing it for several years. Mentoring allows you to hopefully help those going through their career but also is beneficial to the mentor as it exposes you to different people and different industries. As a mentor I also get something out of the program that I wouldn’t otherwise get.
Can you share any valuable advice you have received?
Two specific pieces of advice I received many years ago that still resonate are, surround yourself with good people and the just because I’m the boss doesn’t mean I know everything. Successful team leaders often succeed because they employ good people in key roles, that makes their job easier. Also an old boss of mine once said its OK that you don’t know everything as the boss because that’s why you need specialists who know the specifics.
Can you share a productivity tip?
A personal productivity tip is to always prioritise what’s important and then make a decision when you are able to, otherwise the task will remain open and take longer and drain the productivity of other tasks.
And a networking tip?
Even if you don’t think you are good at it, force yourself to accept invitations and go to select functions if nothing more than the networking that may come from it. With networking, repetition usually leads to positive outcomes, just like most things you learn.