Archives For talent management

By Madelein Smit, vice president Corporate IS & S Ceva Logistics

At CEVA several years ago we embarked on a finance transformation programme which included outsourcing of certain finance processes, and we viewed this as a critical lever for change, not only transforming the finance cost base, but also helping us evolve the skill-sets of the organisation so that we had the right capabilities and talent in place across the embedded finance teams, the retained finance organisation and our outsourced relationships. There is always a balance to be struck between driving out cost across the finance organisation and ensuring you are well placed to develop and keep the appropriate talent and knowledge inside the organisation.

These developments have given a new purpose for the retained organisation and its focus is now on new capabilities such as business partnering, financial insight and ensuring appropriate management of our outsourced finance service operations – so strong relationship management is key. It’s also about being prepared for the finance organisation to ‘let go’ of previous responsibilities that have transferred to the outsourced partner. We fully recognise that the retained finance team is being asked to develop new skills because their role is re-articulated, and we also recognise their engagement is vital in driving the finance organisation of the future.

  1. Solutions – driving engagement in the retained finance team. Recognise the changed role of the retained finance team and plan for the development of new capabilities. We’ve implemented a talent management process, a mentoring process and a wide range of learning opportunities to ensure we develop the new capabilities and skills needed by the retained team. Don’t forget developing the right behaviours is key too, and proactively plan for this.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The finance transformation journey is difficult, particularly for the retained finance team which typically reduces in size and is impacted most. Having a clear communication strategy to keep retained finance staff engaged and motivated is critically important; celebrate successes publicly and make sure you have communication channels in place to acknowledge exceptional performers.
  3. Embed a culture of personal responsibility for careers too. Our people have a wide range of tools and interventions at their disposal, but we also want individuals to take their own responsibility too. One of the areas we are investigating is the encouragement of cross-border and cross-country movement, but of course as the number of roles reduces, this becomes more challenging so we have to think innovatively of how we do this and carve out opportunities for ambitious people.

This case study appeared in an ACCA report on Talent and capability in global finance functions. As part of ACCA’s qualitative research leading organisations shared their approaches. 


“The talent agenda is vital” says Richard Moat FCCA, Chief Financial Officer at Eircom Group and Chair of ACCA’s Accountants for Business Global Forum, in this latest video about the changing role of the CFO.

He adds: “To be an effective business partner, finance people have got to understand the commercial realities of the business – have to have a strong commercial link as well as experience in finance.”

Richard also talks about how managing cost, rather than growth, is a big priority for CFOs today.

The Changing Role of the CFO report explains how the financial and business landscape is changing: greater uncertainty for the global economy, fluctuating energy costs, rises in commodity prices, currency fluctuations, government deficits and cost cutting.

The accountant in 2022

accapr —  6 December 2012 — Leave a comment

Drivers of changeBy Ng Boon Yew, chair of Accountancy Futures Academy, ACCA

As the Accountancy Futures Academy chair, I am often asked ‘So what does the future look like?’ As a practitioner myself, I think that the accountant that we know today will be different in ten years’ time – but how different?

For starters, the accountancy profession does not operate in isolation and its main challenges will certainly mirror those faced by the global economy. The areas that will impact the profession the most are: trust and reporting (strengthening public image by providing a more transparent, simplified but holistic picture of a firm’s health and prospects), regulatory expectations, standards and practices (a global approach), intelligent systems and big data (exploiting the repositories of big data), and finally, organisational remit (the increasing expectations that CFOs and the finance function should play a far greater role).

So how can a global accounting professional be better prepared to adapt and respond in a decade of uncertainty and rapid change?

As businesses adapt to a turbulent environment, accountants need to take on a far greater organisational remit, from strategy formulation through to defining new business models, the accounting professionals will need to embrace an enlarged strategic and commercial role. At the same time, accountants will need to focus on a holistic view of complexity, risk and performance and establish trust and ethical leadership. There is growing consensus on the need for reporting to provide a firm-wide view of organisational health, performance and prospects and must acknowledge the complexity of modern business and encompass financial and non-financial indicators of a firm’s status and potential.

Accountant’s global orientation, the ability to master the technical, language and cultural challenges of cross-border operations will be in the spotlight as the pace of global expansion of firms from developed and developing markets increases.

Lastly, the profession needs to reinvent the talent pool. The diverse range of demands on the profession is forcing a rethink of everything from recruitment through to training and development. Entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity, creativity and strategic thinking skills could be the key competences in the selection of tomorrow’s accountants.

There are significant uncertainties about how the driving forces will play out but the accountancy profession will need to be nimble enough to adjust and evolve and be able to maintain the balance between entrepreneurism and pursuing the highest standards of financial stewardship.

How certain is this? From my point of view, pretty spot on but only time will tell!

The talent myth?

accapr —  9 November 2012 — Leave a comment

By Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector, ACCA

Is talent primarily part of your genetic hard wiring, a consequence of inheritance rather than being more due to something where practice makes perfect. Is high performance really about your chromosomes, or does nurture also have a significant role to play in achieving excellence. Are our preconceptions about flawless genius misconceived? Certainly when we look down the list of significant talent in all fields, from J S Bach to Einstein to Tiger Woods, what becomes more interesting is the level of industry, practice and dedication taken to achieve greatness.

Right now, whether talent is primarily about inherited luck, or practice makes perfect is a bit of a contentious issue. In the business world, looking back to the McKinsey work in the late 1990s, perhaps the starting point for the thinking was that some employees were simply more talented than others, and that the organisations’ approach should be to nurture in particular its stars and A-players. But recently there has been a greater challenge to this traditional thinking around talent.

I’ve read with avid interest Matthew Syed’s (the British journalist and author as well as two time Olympian) thoughts on how in fact the key to achieving excellence is more about experience and that developments in neuroscience appear to suggest brain changes as a consequence of continued practice, are the key to unlocking high performance levels. The arguments and evidence I think are compelling.

So does this mean many talent approaches by organisations have been flawed? Certainly what we do know is that traditional linear approaches to talent development aren’t going to work in the future organisation state. Multiple generations in the workforce, portfolio careers, globalisation, diversity issues and so on, will all influence how organisations can best develop their people.

One of the encouraging inferences I take from this new look at talent is that it implies that the organisation ‘talent’ pool is much wider than often considered, and that providing people with appropriate levels of experience and practice is most important to develop the requisite skills.

This is interesting because a recent ACCA survey with 1,200 organisation finance functions reveals concerns over the adequacy of talent development interventions, and in particularly highlighting the deficit of coaching, mentoring and experiential learning. 

We’ll be returning to the talent issue again shortly…