Fortune’s Emerging CFO: Future Finance Leaders event series, in collaboration with Workday kicked off on Wednesday. My Fortune colleague Geoff Colvin and I moderated a panel featuring guest speakers who are navigating the evolving role of financial leadership. Attendees learned about the career paths of the panelists, as well as how they’re dealing with digital transformation, A.I., machine learning—and utilizing their soft skills too. I’m sharing a few highlights.
On the road to CFO:
“It’s been a journey for me here at Southwest. I really never focused on becoming the CFO. If you had asked me 30 years ago what my goal was, that certainly was not on the list. It’s always been just really focusing on the job that you’re in, doing it the very best that you can, and always working really hard to make sure that you’re turning out excellent results. Having the opportunity to work in so many roles has given me a breadth of knowledge. And that certainly helps with the decisions that we have to make as a company.”
—Tammy Romo, EVP and CFO at Southwest Airlines
“I think the CFO-CIO relationship is a great relationship. I’m not a technocrat. I’m just a businessperson … We are spending two thirds of our capital on technology. I like to innovate. For example, today we have 28 bots doing transaction work, and that’s led to productivity savings. And what it does is it allows me to upscale talent across the organization … We’re investing a lot in data science, machine learning. We just did a bootcamp on machine learning. We thought we needed 30 [or] 40 people. The demand was so strong, we got 600 people.”
— Harmit Singh, EVP and CFO at Levi Strauss & Co.
“We at R/GA believe that technology is complimentary and a facilitator to a more human future. For example, during the pandemic, we built a stadium for Verizon, completely virtual within Fortnite. Forty million people use Fortnite, but hundreds of thousands of people couldn’t be together for the Superbowl. We created this virtual stadium to bring people together.”
— Tania Secor, Global CFO at R/GA
On the value of soft skills:
“I started as a CFO in the middle of a pandemic at WWE. So, I literally have not met 90% of my team in person. And soft skills have been primarily the most important thing I can do to be effective in the organization. I can’t necessarily dazzle folks with finance acumen if I can’t get a feeling of connection through the screen. What has made CFOs effective during this time is a sense of accessibility above and beyond what normally would be applicable.”
— Kristina Salen, CFO at WWE
Our next Emerging CFO event is scheduled for October 28!
Quick note: We are observing Juneteenth at Fortune. So, you’ll receive the next CFO Daily on Monday. See you then.
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