“Diversity helps to get optimum outcomes,” said Laura Wiler, VP of finance for Sage Intacct. She also noted the important of "a culture of openneess and transparency and being able to speak your mind".
Wiler and three other CFOs participated in the session. Besides Wiler, these were Shari Freeman of Room to Reed, Lisa Schulz of Jobvite and Tayna Yakhnis of the Tandem Family or Companies.
Other pieces of advice were speaking up, trusting staff members and delegating responsibilities and learning as much as possible about the way the organization functions.
In terms of learning that means “getting up and walking away from your cube,” said Yakhnis. That includes learning about the business and “what makes it work and what breaks it.”
A message from the conferences main stage earlier was that. CFOs are increasingly promoted to the position of CEO—with Stephen Hare, who stepped into Sage’s top job after leading finance, mentioned as a prominent example of that trend. Another example close of home is Sage Intacct’s CFO Marc Linden taking over running that business as an EVP within the last month.
Yahknis noted how active CFOs must be in relating to CEOs. “If you are CFO, you are going to have to manage your CEO,” she said.
While the panel emphasized the need for diversity, Freedman has ended up in an all-female executive team at Room to Read. “We have a different way of operating. We have zero political gamesmanship and a lot more support,” Freedman said. The result has been the business’ having accelerated growth.
Freeman also emphasized the need to trust others and task risks on people without the organization. She said leaders need to “hand things off and let them try.” And with key staff spread across geographies that also means “very heavy lifting and communications strategies”.