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CFO Brain | Time for a fresh look at late payments

September 21 · Issue #34 · View online
Arturo Pallardó
HolaArturo here!
This week we have a double newsletter, including both the best weekly finance&tech-related stories, followed by our last CFO Brain Interview with Jaume Vidal, IESE Business School’s General Administrator. 
PS: Next interviewee coming: Cabify’s CFO Juan Ignacio García 🌴
⦿ Your guide to the real-time payments revolution (via Citi Bank)
⦿ FX volatility, the main challenge for treasurers (via Kantox)
⦿ Global Corporate Treasury Survey 2017 (via Deloitte)
⦿ A 29-year-old is the new CFO at Kraft Heinz (via The Washington Post)
⦿ CFOs are the prime targets of email scammers. What to do about it (via CFO Innovation)   
⦿ It’s time for a fresh look at late payments (via FX-MM)
⦿ CFOs Should Partner with Chief Procurement Officers (via
CFO Brain Interview with Jaume Vidal, IESE Business School’s General Administrator 
Offering added value and simplifying processes for the rest of the company are the main concerns of Jaume Vidal, IESE’s General Administrator, and the head of the back office department. Jaume Vidal believes that his department has to be firmly aligned with IESE’s mission of having a deep, positive and lasting impact on people, firms and society through professionalism and spirit of service.
Since 1958, IESE Business School has been developing visionary business leaders through a full suite of world-class programs that combine a general management focus, a truly global perspective and a humanistic approach to leadership.
Today, new technologies are affecting every aspect of the business world: new requirements from the market are constantly appearing; globalisation is invading our daily tasks, and managers have to operate in an increasingly faster-changing environment. In light of these complexities, CFOs can become the drivers of change, making their teams thrive in disruption. 
Having been at IESE for 10 years, what has been your main focus?
I have worked at IESE during two very different phases: once at the very beginning of my career (1990 to 1998) and then, since 2015, as a General Administrator. Despite the logical evolution and change of scenery during my professional career, I would say that both stages have a common denominator: a continuous quest to provide a better level of service to the community I was serving: students, executives and participants.
To do so as a back office department requires special effort and creativity since we are not always in direct contact with the community.
What do you believe have been the key drivers for your success so far?
I prefer to talk about “achievements” rather than “success.” Success is always premature, and nothing big started without a small approach. Having said that, I firmly believe that hard work, professionalism and a constant willingness to improve are vital for accomplishing your objectives. That will eventually lead to success. All this, of course, is a team effort, since it is never a battle you wage alone. Supporting and developing your team will, in turn, help you grow.
From whom have you found inspiration in your career?
I try to see in each person a unique opportunity to learn, but I have to say that many times that isn’t always possible. If I had to name one person, it would be the first dean of IESE, Antonio Valero, who taught me a great deal of invaluable lessons. But as I said, I always try to maintain an open attitude and assimilate what others have to teach me, no matter who or where they are.
What are the biggest challenges in your career up to date?
In the short term, I would say our main challenge in the area of finance is to modernise our department through digitalisation. We are immersed in several projects such as the implementation of a new ERP Cloud tool, the standardisation of processes and the integration of IESE’s campuses all over the world.
In the medium term, we aim to offer value that helps the whole organisation in their strategy implementation and decision-making processes.
What are the key attributes that the CFO needs to be successful?
In my opinion, a key attribute for a CFO is the spirit of service, being aware that your job helps others make better decisions in their respective departments. Additionally, a finance director must be optimistic while keeping his/her feet on the ground. Optimism is necessary to motivate others and have the drive to achieve your objectives. Realism, on the other hand, is crucial so as never to lose perspective.
Moreover, I would also highlight the pursuit of excellence, a critical and analytical attitude that leads to always look for what’s “behind the numbers”, and teamwork as key skills for a CFO.
What is the biggest lesson in your career?
Recently, I read an article by Valentí Fuster, a world-renowned Spanish cardiologist titled “A devotion to never feeling satisfied”. Fuster explains that when his colleagues ask him why he is always looking for perfection, he replies: “if, at some point, I had said ‘I have done enough’ I would be dead.” I consider this a great lesson. Never say ‘enough,’ never say ‘we are doing it well enough.’ We must not fall into mediocrity. We need to strive for improvement.
This is one of the messages that IESE tries to convey as well: becoming a better professional, you will be able to serve your stakeholders better.
How is technology affecting finance department?
Technology is deeply affecting finance departments. As I mentioned before, we are immersed in a fast-changing environment that requires us to make the right decisions at the appropriate time. Therefore, having the right information on time is crucial if we want to identify what things need changing and what processes need rethinking.
Besides, it is not feasible to not get involved: digitalisation is a necessary process that affects all functional areas and involves organisational change, not just adopting new tools.
Finally, innovation, and especially automation, are helping increase efficiency in our process, meaning that we can devote our human capital to more value-added tasks that enrich our business proposal.
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Curated by Arturo Pallardó and the CFO Brain team at Kantox.

Have a super week!
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