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.