"Collaboration, Inc:" The Changing Role of Today's CFO

by Stephanie Marinello
By viewing talent without the lens of an organizational chart, individuals must look to what's next and prepare for what the future of work will look like.
Stephanie Marinello, CFO of Siemens Financial Services, Inc.

As finance leaders look to the future, they must evaluate their ability to shift from traditional management to management driven by data analysis and relationship building. In a recent Workday Global Finance Leader Study, resilience, intelligence, leadership, and talent were identified as four areas in which CFOs must be skilled to support business needs.

As I reflected on my new role as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Siemens Financial Services (SFS) in the United States, I knew collaboration would be important for our organization. The Workday study found one third of finance leaders have seamless collaboration with key C-suite peers, and 74 percent of respondents said Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and CFOs must collaborate to move the needle. But what does that look like? And how can today’s CFOs adjust to this new paradigm?

Taking a look at where we are as an industry, the Workday research shows a significant divide between next-generation finance executives (those who are 39 years old or younger, and who have significant business experience outside of finance) and traditionalists (who are 50 years or older, and who have spent a majority of their careers in the finance function), uncovering “an organizational culture that is focused on intuition rather than data-based decision-making.”  The former ranks intuition-based decision-making over data-based decision-making as the biggest hurdle standing in the way of their organization’s innovation ambitions. The research also shows that many finance teams are not making extensive use of data and analytics, with one of the biggest challenges not being able to integrate finance and non-finance data.

CFOs must inspire their teams to not be bothered by where they sit within the organization and focus on working collectively as one group. In the future, there will be no organizational chart. Employees will be looked at for their skill sets and outputs and be assigned to projects across different teams. This is indicative to how important company culture is when driving innovation and will better allow both people and data to thrive.

By viewing talent without the lens of an organizational chart, individuals must look to what’s next and prepare for what the future of work will look like. The future is about change. It’s about realizing that what got you in a position, won’t keep you there and being comfortable with failure and learning from that failure to move forward.

Relationships are the essence of success, and all of us must embrace a “we” environment by being open, transparent, collaborative and predictive in problem-solving and planning for the future. This collaborative mindset is how we will redefine the areas of resilience, intelligence, leadership, and talent in understanding – and embracing – the inevitable changing role of finance. 

For more about Stephanie Marinello, please read her bio here. As a 10-year Siemens veteran and process maven, Stephanie Marinello looks forward to leading SFS, Inc. competitively into the future.