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CFO Masterclass to Empower Teams in Modern Finance


Raul Vega

Founder, CEO

The role of the CFO is changing across every industry. Modern CFOs are shattering the boundaries of their department’s traditional “scorekeeping” role to provide insight-driven strategies that drive growth for their organizations. But finding the bandwidth to create more meaningful roles for finance teams bogged down by mundane activities is a challenge.

During the fifth session of the CFO Masterclass Keynote Series, panelists agreed that leveraging disruptive technology and automating routine tasks are key to building Finance Departments that easily adapt to changing trends and proactively support an organization’s long-term goals. The panelists offered actionable insights on how CFOs can use digital finance to become true strategic partners for their companies.

The June 19 session completed the first-ever CFO Masterclass webinar series, created by the CFO Leadership Council and MIT Sloan Executive Education to empower senior financial executives to achieve success in the post-coronavirus economy. Over five consecutive Fridays, participants learned from MIT faculty and some of the world’s most forward-thinking CFOs and thought leaders on a variety of relevant topics. Speakers included C-suite executives from Covertus, Fanatics, Mass General, Microsoft, Staples, and more.

The final session, “Innovation, Redesign and Evolution of IT,” featured a panel discussion including:

Ash Noah, Managing Director of Learning Education and Development at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), moderated the event.

The changing role of CFOs: looking forward instead of back

Auxis CEO rvega kicked off the discussion by explaining why it’s time for modern CFOs to shed the traditional mindset of finance roles. More than 75% of a typical Finance Department’s time is bogged down by the kind of work that “keeps the lights on” in a business: chasing down invoices, reconciling accounts, and scrambling from one closing to another. But while important, focusing on those low-value activities keeps finance teams stuck in the weeds and prevents them from joining the front lines of company influence.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced how nimble organizations must be in the modern era, forward-thinking CFOs were redefining their departments to become strategic partners for an enterprise. Instead of spending most of their time processing transactions and generating reports that detail past events, they are taking an active role in driving growth – using the data they collect to identify opportunities, provide strategic insights, and empower the C-suite to make data-backed decisions business-wide.

“To me, that’s what the future of finance really is,” Vega said. “Not transaction processing, controls, and governance, but being at the axis of strategy, data, and digital transformation.” Automating routine tasks is what frees Finance to move past the outdated paradigm and become the analytics powerhouse of an organization. But while many CFOs want to embrace digital finance, they don’t know the best way to move forward.

Splunk CFO Jason Child said the biggest problem CFOs currently face isn’t a lack of technology choices to achieve desired results, it’s knowing how to select the best fit for their business amidst an overwhelming number of options. Depending upon their needs, CFOs can implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI, cloud solutions, cognitive computing, and more – and choose from an array of products within each grouping.