A New Approach To Financial Growth
Jan 5, 2021
This content first appeared in the December 2020 issue of Forbes Middle East
Ussama Dahabiyeh, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Injazat, explains how he believes that his role and the role of a CFO in general needs to evolve.
How is the role of the CFO evolving to encompass functions that were previously reserved for the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)?
Traditionally, the CFO function was viewed as the firm’s financial planner who hawkishly monitors its financial performance. While this remains true in some respects, it is one dimensional, and misses the benefit of having a member of the C-Suite who is intimately aware and involved in all aspects of the company.
We have seen over the years that organizations committed to adopting more agile practices, are increasingly turning to their CFO to help lead strategic discussions and decisions.
The CFO has always had a say in how a company’s cash flow is managed, deciding which projects to fund—from smaller innovation projects to investments in talent. But organizations are now looking to their CFO to guide decisions on large-scale projects and investment decisions that set the foundations for the long-term success of a company. Decisions that would have been taken by the CSO. This level of involvement would help the company become more agile as the CFO would deploy resources more quickly into growth areas.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on every sector of the economy. How has it affected your role?
The technology sector has been one of the very few sectors that has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a market leader in digital transformation, cloud, and cyber security, we find ourselves able to take full advantage of the many opportunities the digital economy harbors. We have embarked on our own transformation journey in 2020. A transformation that would make us a lot more agile, increase our capabilities, and help us make new investments to enable our customers and the communities we serve.
What are the main skillsets of the CFO that are required if such a shift is to be realized and executed successfully?
This is where we need to change our mindsets. All too often we see CFOs being focused on numbers and the financial performance of a company—which remains an important aspect of course—but without taking into consideration the bigger picture maybe.
Overall, too many CFOs remain too disconnected from their firm’s actual line of business and the field the firm operates in, with the result that sometimes the CFO lacks an understanding of the firm’s industry. A circumstance that can make it hard to make financially sound decisions for the company and its employees.
CFOs need to pay attention to the fact that every business model will eventually be disrupted. They need to focus on ways to keep their company highly adaptable by carefully considering financial and operational leverage, but also by avoiding complex business structures. All of which would become a huge drag if the company needed to pivot quickly and adapt to new business models.