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August 25, 2022
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The future CFO: A roundup of expert predictions.

Written by Laura Slauson
future of the CFFO - a roundup of expert predictions

It’s been said that the only thing certain is change … and that adage certainly seems true for today’s CFO. Digital transformation and an uncertain economy have shifted the focus of the role to that of a strategic partner to the CEO. As the pace of change in the business world accelerates even further, what will the future CFO face, and how will they rise to the upcoming challenges?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we have talked to CFOs from some of the world’s top companies for our Path to Becoming a CFO series. Here’s a collection of what they, and other experts, have to say.

1. Mastering change: The new CFO mandate.

Report. Consulting firm McKinsey surveyed finance leaders about how they see the CFO role changing. The report looks at the growing scope of responsibilities, including CFO’s increasing involvement in digital transformation and investor relations.

2. Path to Becoming a CFO: Ned Segal, CFO at Twitter.

Recording. During his talk with Airbase Founder and CEO, Thejo Kote, Ned touched on the transformative power of technology and how it will shape the day-to-day tasks of future CFOs.

“I hope that as AI and ML make data easier and easier to consume, our jobs will be less manual. Think back to 50 years ago: Inputting data was a very big part of any finance team’s job. And maybe 10 years from now, inputting data will be 0% of our job.”

3. Path to Becoming a CFO: Bill Losch, Former CFO at Okta.

Recording. A big part of the ROI from technology investments is the regained time to focus on other things. “This frees up time for more analysis, more of the fun stuff, moving forward. You should be thoughtful of how technology, like AI, can help you,” said Bill.

4. For CFOs, Digital Transformation Requires Letting Go.

Article. Based on research from Gartner, this article offers an interesting perspective on the need to trust the data created by new tools, “algorithm aversion,” why finance often needs a mindset shift regarding data governance, and more.

5. Path to Becoming a CFO: Jason Warnick, CFO at Robinhood.

Recording. Digital innovation will also help CFOs play a greater role in making key decisions regarding company strategy. Jason predicted that the CFOs of the future will ear recognition as key decision-makers — with the right approach.

“I think that if we, as finance leaders, can bring an owner’s mentality and an obsession for customers, with incredibly high standards and a sense of urgency on doing the right thing for the business, then finance can earn a seat at the table.”

6. Communicating bad news when you miss your growth plan.

Blog. Delivering bad news to the board is something no CFO wants to see in the future, but when it happens, you need a plan. This blog by CFO advisor Alan Priest talks about the importance of transparency and accountability when forecasts fall short.

7. The CFO of the Future.

Report. This report from IMA takes a deep dive into the skills a future CFO must develop. Based on a survey of finance executives around the world, it’s packed with actionable, detailed data on the changes to come.

8. Path to Becoming a CFO: Kelly Battles, Former CFO at Quora.

Recording. New opportunities to make a positive impact might be proliferating, but ultimately it falls to a potential CFO to seize those opportunities. That was a key theme of Kelly Battles’ Path to Becoming a CFO talk.

“The world is getting more and more complex, and CFOs are going to have to stay on top of it: making sure that you automate, that you have a single source of truth for your data, that you have good infrastructure around data and analytics, and that you can handle this complexity while continuing to bring the real information, not just the data, to the table.”

9. What I Wish I Knew: How to build a data-driven company.

Webinar. It’s clear that the CFO of the future needs an effective data-management strategy as a basis for decision-making and strategy. This webinar talks about the need for a scalable data management strategy and shares some best practices for building a data-centric company.

10. Path to Becoming a CFO: Kelly Steckelberg, CFO at Zoom.

Recording. Part of preparing for the future means learning from the past. Kelly Steckelberg, CFO at Zoom, told some exciting stories from her own past, particularly regarding Zoom’s massive scaling operation at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That tied in well with what she said was the best piece of advice she’d received.

“Be really thoughtful about the problems you’re trying to solve. We all have so many experiences to draw on and what you have to do is make sure that, no matter what environment you’re in, you’re adapting your experience for the here and now.”

11. Path to Becoming a CFO on SpotifyPath to Becoming a CFO on Apple.

Podcast. Airbase’s trademark speaker series is now a podcast! Catch all our past episodes on your favorite podcast platform.

12. Robin Washington, Board member at Alphabet, Honeywell, and Salesforce.

Blog. Lifelong learning becomes even more important as the role becomes more complex. “Modern CFOs take on broader operational roles than their predecessors: project management, systems implementation, M&A, data analytics, IT,” said Robin. Her practical advice is to have the willingness and ability to learn as new expectations fall on the shoulders of CFOs.

Every month, Airbase’s Path to Becoming a CFO series draws an engaged audience to hear top finance leaders discuss their career paths. Listeners connect with the entertaining, often humorous, personal stories and leave with insights from lessons learned that they can apply to their own career journey. As the series unfolds, it’s also become a valuable resource for information about the state of finance leadership and the direction it’s headed. And we’ve even been told that the content has been included in business courses at Stanford.

Don’t miss our next episode! Register now to save your (virtual) seat.


To learn more about Airbase, contact us for a product demo.
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