What makes a successful CFO? Interview with Bodie ter Kuile at Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund
“If you are respected, you are learning and are appropriately valued in the role you are doing, there is no reason to leave an organisation”.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
I worked for a boss who once told me: “If you are respected, you are learning and are appropriately valued in the role you are doing, there is no reason to leave an organisation”. If these are missing, people should probably exercise the choices they have.
What do you believe will be the most important skills within finance over the next 5 years and why?
I think it’s flexibility. For many roles, the activity needed to perform it will be broadly the same in future but, through automation, how these roles get done will change. So people need to be conscious of how their specific role could evolve over time and be ready to have the skills needed to be valuable to the organisation in the future – skills and attitude need to be flexible.
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
When I worked for Barclays I looked after a Program to integrate two banks in the Caribbean. There were 250 people working on the project – the role was challenging in a developing market with shareholders in an established market who had high expectations. I overcame it by very frequent transparent communication - both upwards and downwards to ensure there were no surprises, expectations were understood, and complexities were not ignored.
What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
I think it’s understanding process. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if I understand how things work when problems arise, I can be part of the solution and also be part of planning future improvements. Many problems occur due to processes breaking down or not being fit for changing environments. Knowing what works allows you to improve and fix things.
What's the most rewarding part of being a CFO?
For me there it is making a difference by building and developing the business and teams.
How do you see the CFO role evolving over the next 5 years?
In my mind this goes back to the evolving improvement in information and data availability. CFO’s will have more access to data points and will be reliant on people providing them with timely appropriate information so they can be driving the strategy for the firm and their team. Their ability to interpret data and communicate it concisely will become even more important skills.