What makes a successful CFO? Interview with CFO Andy Sampson
Andy Sampson, CFO at Taurus Funds Management shares his career advice and insights:
‘Always aim high - as there is nothing worse than aiming low and missing.’
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
It was back in 1994 when I was at Uni, and it was advice that applies to all facets of life, not just your career. In his parting monologue of our final year 1 Advanced Calculus lecture, our rather eccentric but sagacious professor advised us to ‘Always aim high - as there is nothing worse than aiming low and missing.’ At the time I applied the philosophy to my dating approach, but in time this sage advice has benefitted my career decisions immeasurably.
What do you believe will be the most important skills within finance over the next 5 years and why?
Being able to manage and decipher large volumes of transactional data and present it in a coherent and meaningful way. Being able to innovate to keep up with ever evolving technology, trends and changing consumer interfaces. Having the skills to be able to integrate finance into all aspects of the business, front-to-back. And finally shaking off the geeky image of finance professionals. We are actually all super cool – just nobody knows it yet.
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Without a doubt having to deal with a difficult boss. A number of instances come to mind, but probably the trickiest was when I was asked to fudge the books, and then personally attest that the accounts were all above board. It didn’t go down well when I questioned the integrity of doing this with him, and unsurprisingly my short-term contract was not renewed shortly after that ‘disagreement’. Ho-hum. It’s always a difficult situation when faced with those kind of things, but I feel that you will always benefit in the long term if you are able to always retain your verity.
What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
Being positive. Retaining a sense of humour. Being anally organised, OCD-style. Trying hard to maintain a happy and fulfilled life outside of work. Always working on mental health. Communicating effectively with all those around you. Eating 3 Shredded Wheat daily.
What's the most rewarding part of being a CFO?
Being across everyone’s remuneration! Jokes. Probably being able to be involved in all facets of the business, and being able to drive business strategy and therefore success.
How do you see the CFO role evolving over the next 5 years?
Consumerism is evolving. Society is changing. Globalisation is globalising. The challenge will be to keep up and to do so the CFO will need to progress from using numbers to tell a story, and instead try to understand the story the numbers are trying to tell. Our next CFOs will need to inject themselves across the whole business in a positive way. Not in a ‘here comes the policeman’ kinda way.
‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’. Ferris Bueller, 11 Jun 1986.