Ahead of her presentation at the CFO Rising East Summit in Boston on March 7 & 8, we spoke to Jeanette Wade, Chief Financial Officer at the Executive Office of Technology Services & Security.
Jeanette is a transformational, strategic financial leader with a 19-year record of delivering exceptional results. I possess significant abilities to develop organizations to next level of maturity and critical qualities executive managers seek in a trusted advisor: strategic change management planning, cross-functional substance, know-how in forming executable recommendations and an enterprise-wide perspective that effectively engages all stakeholders. Possess solid ability to establish rapport with all levels of staff and management.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in finance and what first sparked your interest?
Finance found me. I was tapped by financial leadership to bring my organizational and transformational skills to the general accounting department, where information was not being disseminated in a timely, consolidated or evaluated manner. The Controller joked that he could teach me accounting 101 on his white board, he wanted to improve the departments contributions to the business by providing accurate information on a consistent basis and build partnerships with the non-financial areas. This was right up my alley.
How has the CFO role changed over the last decade? What do you see as having been the main drivers behind this?
The role of the CFO has changed from being the keeper of the financial information to the driver of business change with financial information. With the expectation that this same information which was provided monthly is now available real time to empower business leaders in their decision making. The CFO should be prepared to be a trusted advisor and partner to the CEO in the development of strategic plans and to drive innovation throughout the organization all while controlling costs-that part hasn’t changed.
What technologies do you foresee having the greatest impact on the finance function in the future?
The migration from on premises IT infrastructure to the cloud will not only provide the opportunity to reduce operating costs, but will reduce the reliance on antiquated support models. It will be critical for financial teams to ensure they have the right financial talent that have a combination of strong accounting/modeling skills combined with an understanding of technology to perform business intelligence. Equally important is to ensure a strong contracts management team in place to wind down expansive IT maintenance and support models historically required.
What do you see as the finance function’s role in innovation of new products?
Increased access to data and advanced abilities to jockey and analyze that data will allow the finance team to inform business development teams. It is imperative to develop strong data modeling resources for the business to rely upon for cost and product performance metrics that will inform decisions and lead to innovations.
What do you foresee being the major risks you face at your company over the next year?
We are amidst an IT transformation that involves centralization of procurement, significant cybersecurity enhancements and modernization of the IT function. The major risks we face are keeping resources engaged and energized to meet the pacing we’ve established. The most critical component to our success is a strategic communication plan to employees, stakeholders and our customers as well as clear measures if performance.
What advice would you have for young people looking to get into a finance career?
I know it sounds counterintuitive but be a risk taker. Finance is no longer just reporting historical data about the results of the organization. You will be expected to understand accounting, be able to provide nimble and flexible analysis in ever changing environments and help drive the organization forward.
What will you be discussing in your presentation?
I will be discussing the importance of a modern IT infrastructure and how transforming your IT organization will enhance security and provide savings and efficiencies
You can catch Jeanette's presentation at the CFO Rising East Summit in Boston on March 7 & 8.