Finance Innovation and Excellence Part I

This four part series covers the 8 key themes at the 4th annual Finance Innovation and Excellence Summit (FInEx Summit). The Summit tackled eight of today’s most pressing challenges facing Chief Financial Officers and other accounting, finance and treasury leaders. The expert speakers on each panel are global leaders in their field who deliver great messages tailored to the worldwide CFO community.

Part I covers The CFO in Crisis and Digitization, Automation and AI.

The CFO in Crisis


In this FInEx Summit panel titled “The CFO in Crisis,” Steve welcomes three seasoned CFOs - Andrew Lee of RealWear, Inc., a wearable computer device company; Yiannis Papadopoulos of , a creative data-driven agency; and Dan Crumb of the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl Champions of the National Football League. The panelists share their experiences and insights in managing crises and overcoming challenges in their respective organizations.

Dan kicks off the discussion by highlighting the decisions made by the Kansas City Chiefs during the pandemic, including preparing for worst-case scenarios, transitioning to remote work, and implementing cashless payments and mobile ordering for concessions. Dan emphasizes the importance of planning, flexibility, and being prepared to pivot.

Yiannis talks about his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was favorable for their business. Yiannis managed the fast growth Ladder experienced early in the pandemic and subsequent slow down due to recession expectations by expanding its remote workforce, reestablishing benefits and perks, and focusing on cash management and cost reductions.

Andrew shares RealWear’s fundraising and IPO journey. RealWear recently faced a tough round of funding that Andrew overcame by maintaining great relationships with their investors and strategic partners, allowing the company to tap into these stakeholders for the required funds. The valuation was not ideal but gave the company ample runway to expand its operations. Andrew also discusses RealWears attempt to go public twice and shares the secret to surviving when the deals didn’t materialize.

The panelists emphasize the importance of proactive communication, scenario planning, and being flexible in adapting to crises and opportunities. They discuss the need to connect all aspects of the business and understand hiring needs and timing to best serve clients. Additionally, they mention leveraging technology to enhance customer experiences.

Overall, the panel provides valuable insights into crisis management, fundraising challenges, and the strategic role of the CFO in navigating through unprecedented times.

“It was really looking at this as an opportunity to make some big changes. And the world was at a point where it was accommodating change more readily because there were certain things that just had to change. We didn’t have much of a chance not to.”

— Dan Crumb

Be prepared to face a crisis in your business by tapping into CFO.University‘s Crisis Resource Center for CFOs

Here is the link to full video presentation, The CFO in Crisis

Digitization, Automation and AI


Host Zeeshan Umer, a Partner at AARO Middle East engages with guest speakers Tobias Zwingmann, Managing Partner at RAPYD.AI, and Prashanth H Southekal, PhD, MBA, ICD.D, Founder of DBP-Institute, to discuss the impact of digitization, automation, and AI in the business world. The conversation emphasizes the importance of embracing AI initiatives in small and medium-sized businesses, with the CFOs playing a crucial role in spearheading these efforts due to their affinity for data and strategic decision-making responsibilities. The speakers compare AI to the new electricity, highlighting its broad application areas and the value gains it can bring.

The episode highlights the need for businesses to leverage AI to navigate uncertainties caused by external factors such as black swan events, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change. To plan for the future, businesses must rely on more data and advanced techniques to analyze the data. Prashanth stresses the importance of not waiting for perfect data quality before incorporating data analytics and AI into your business, instead he recommends small-scale experiments to understand the quality level needed.

The ownership and management of data within an organization are explored, with reference and master data deemed suitable for enterprise-level management and transactional data owned by specific business areas. The importance of data culture, education, and data literacy is underlined, along with the combination of intuition and data in decision-making.

The discussion concludes with insights into the impact of AI on jobs, with an emphasis on career focus, networking, and adaptability as crucial skills in the changing world. The concept of data quality is explored, including its dimensions and the need to prioritize progress over perfection.

Overall, this session of the FinEx Summit 2023 provides valuable insights on the role of AI and data in driving business transformation, with a focus on harnessing AI’s potential, managing data effectively, and cultivating a data-driven culture.

“Perfection is the opposite of progression. And that pretty much applies to data quality as well. 100 percent data quality does not exist.”

— Prashanth Southekal

Here is the link to full video presentation, Digitization, Automation and AI

Find Part II of our series here, Finance Innovation and Excellence Part II

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