VODAFONE CFO Nick Read has challenged his fellow financial executives to get more passionate and embrace a ‘growth mind-set’ that champions a board-level conversation to embrace the ‘art of the possible’.
Speaking at The Economist’s CFO 2015 ‘From boom to bust: financial leadership in the recovery‘ conference in London, Read outlined his vision for the steps modern strategic CFOs should take to help generate top-line growth and leave the era of solely being responsible for the bottom line to the annals of history.
The 14-year Vodafone veteran told the audience of CFOs: “What we lack sometimes is the passion and desire to inspire the organisation to grow. You can play the role in a more amplified way because they don’t expect it from you.”
He also called on senior finance executives to embrace the “power of communication” to help articulate that vision of success. Such an approach is critical, he believes, if CFOs are to effectively help shape and define the right conversation around the wider growth agenda.
“CFOs have a fundamental role to translate and articulate strategy into action,” Read explained. “They need to paint the picture for the organisation and that requires them to be totally visible and champion the whole organisation,” compelling them to “take the whole organisation on a critical path to complete success”.
Read, formerly the telecom giant’s regional CEO for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific for five years and board member of Vodacom, Safaricom, and Vodafone Qatar, its subsidiaries in India and Egypt, also stressed the need for CFOs to clarify their organisation’s business model and remember to focus on the critical.
“My boss always says to me that I have one good trait, ‘you never focus on the important, you always focus on the critical’.”
Vodafone’s latest results succesfully trumped market expectations.
During the three months to 31 December 2014, it generated UK service revenue of £9,789m. Its better-than-expected results were achieved through impressive UK growth and a solid recovery in Europe, boosted by strong growth in India.
Vodafone group chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “We have achieved another quarter of improving revenue trends in most of our major markets. Growth in India has accelerated again, driven by data.
“In Europe, improved commercial execution in both mobile and fixed over the last few quarters, combined with strong data demand and a more stable pricing environment, is supporting the steady recovery in the top line.”