Alexandre Rérolle , group CFO of CAST, gives his views on the year ahead
What have been the biggest challenges for your business over the past year, and what role did finance play in addressing them?
The main challenge that I think many CFOs and business executives must address today, is to simultaneously become more structured – and more agile.
‘More structured’ because you need clear processes and relevant controls to keep the organisation safe. ‘More agile’ because you must be smart, quick and reactive to what the market demands. To benefit from agile process without the drawbacks of bureaucracy, you need good systems, software and strong KPIs. A big part of this is making sure your systems are resilient and that your data is not at risk of being corrupted or compromised.
And last but not least, we must address these challenges at an efficient cost. It’s a constant tug of war between reconciling these objectives – which are not always obvious – and keeping things in-line from a finance perspective.
What are the key political and economic risks/opportunities you face in the year ahead?
The political and economic climate is uncertain in many countries right now.
Tensions can spread quickly, even to places very far from their origin. Our globalised environment reinforces the need for efficient operations and resilient systems with a good level of control and visibility to mitigate those risks. Those who manage tricky situations well will have more opportunity in the long-run.
Which capex projects will you be focusing on in 2017, and how will these be financed?
We will be focused on international expansion in strategic, high-growth regions. We anticipate those to be financed with a mix of cash/debt.
How do you expect the balance of your role to change in the coming year; between compliance and forward-looking/strategic? And why?
The question is always to find the right balance between compliant operations and pushing the business to be more strategic. Short-term execution and compliance is key, but it must not prevent you from looking forward and making long-term strategic plans. When the context is difficult and the future uncertain, short-term vigilance becomes a bit more important than long term plan, in my opinion.
Advice for other FDs for the coming year?
Invest in your systems to improve operations and make them safer for the road ahead.