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Digitization, talent pipelines, and inclusion—here’s what mattered to CFOs this week

September 10, 2021, 10:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

Here’s what happened this week:

A recent Harvard Business Review piece highlights DoorDash’s career accelerator for women of color called Elevate, now in its third cohort. Women in the program have access to an external executive coach, an executive sponsor, and meetings with C-suite members and company directors. Before the program ends, fellows work out a career plan with them. The data shows the program has had an impact, with 38% of fellows earning promotions, a significant increase compared to their non-Elevate peers. The tech company’s program appears to have hit the trifecta with its combination of mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship. Diversity has traditionally lagged in the tech industry, and it’s not rapidly improving. Research from Wiley, Accenture, and Payscale point to the importance of sponsorship to promote high-potential women of color into senior positions.

“Whatever I do, even if I’m sitting in a board meeting doing succession planning, I always have [inclusion and diversity] on my mind,” Maria Ferraro, CFO and chief inclusion and diversity officer (CIDO) at the technology company Siemens Energy AG, told me. In May 2020, Ferraro became CFO at Siemens Energy AG, a spin-off of Siemens AG, the German multinational conglomerate. She then took on the role of CIDO on November 23, 2020. I asked Ferraro how she’s keeping track of inclusion and diversity. “I don’t do it on my own,” she said. To support the strategic initiative, Ferraro has instituted a new global council, “right down to the country level,” and serves as chair, she said. Ferraro shared with me how the global council operates and explained why her two C-suite positions are intertwined. 

In the process of digitization, finance chiefs are “overusing a singular technology tool”—robotic process automation (RPA)—to meet efficiency goals in data management and simplify tasks, according to a new Gartner report. The global research firm outlines three top strategic technology trends including hyperautomation, which is a progression of various automation initiatives rather than just sticking with one. A “robust toolbox enables hyperautomation ambitions,” said Alejandra Lozada, the senior director of research in Gartner’s finance practice. Some of the tools include artificial intelligence, machine learning (ML), intelligent business process management suites (which automate complex business processes), and event-driven software architecture (which monitors when a transaction takes place), to name a few, Lozada said. The other trends include a “composable financial management system” and distributed cloud, the firm noted. 


Thanks for reading. See you on Monday.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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Big deal

Swiss Army CFO: Responsibilities Expand Far Beyond Finance, a new report by Tipalti, an accounting software company, found 99% of CFOs surveyed agreed their role has become more complex in the last two years. Finance chiefs are increasingly driving their organization's global expansion and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. About 23% of CEOs surveyed believe it's important for CFOs to develop ESG capabilities within their company. Meanwhile, for CFOs, incorporating ESG into their roles was named as a top factor for adding complexity to the job. However, the finance chiefs surveyed almost equally pointed to increased financial data, accelerating finance operations, and the global pandemic as factors that increase the complexity of their roles. About 350 CEOs and 353 CFOs and finance team members at technology companies with 250-1,000 employees participated in the survey, according to Tipalti

Going deeper

Here are a few Fortune reads for the weekend:

Fortune's 40 Under 40 by Fortune editors

How 9/11 changed Wall Street forever by Megan Leonhardt

As Tesla stock surges, it’s now worth as much as the next six biggest carmakers by Shawn Tully 

Despite El Salvador’s bumpy Bitcoin rollout, a queue of countries forge ahead with legalizing crypto by Sophie Mellor

Leaderboard

Some notable moves from this past week:

Ursula Hurley was named CFO at JetBlue, effective immediately. Hurley has served as acting CFO since June 2021. A 17-year veteran of the airline, Hurley previously served as acting CFO and head of treasury and investor relations. She has also held various roles in financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, and investor relations.

Vanna Krantz was named CFO at Passport, a transportation software and payments company. Most recently Krantz was the CFO at Masterclass. She has also served as the CFO of Disney Streaming Services. In addition, Krantz has held various divisional CFO roles at Thomson Reuters and senior finance positions at Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Chris Malone was promoted from president and CFO to CEO at Applause, a software testing company. Malone joined Applause in 2013 responsible for global operations, financial, and strategic management. He succeeds former CEO and founder, Doron Reuveni, who will now serve as executive chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Igor Lima was named CFO at Learning Tree International, an IT training company. Lima replaces current CFO, David Asai, who will remain with the company in an advisory capacity throughout September. Most recently, Lima served as CFO of Mailgun Technologies, Credible Behavioral Health Software, and Amify.

Matthew Gallatin was named CFO at Stack Overflow, an information management and collaboration platform. Gallatin most recently served as CFO of Reltio. He previously held CFO roles at Drawbridge, OneLogin, and ShareThis. Gallatin has also worked in finance leadership roles at Brand.net, Yahoo!, and Applied Materials.

Overheard

“We’re actually getting better, not worse.”

—Lowe’s CFO David Denton commented at a Goldman Sachs Annual Global Retailing Conference about the company's inventory and supply chain being in a better position than it was six to 12 months prior, as reported by Reuters.

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