How CFOs are moving from bean counters to business enablers

Mark Putzier is a freelance CFO gun for hire and had to draw on all his corporate skills when the Covid lockdown hammered a food franchise client’s business. The role of the CFO may never be the same again.


CIARAN RYAN: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Draftworx, which provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 8 000 accounting and auditing firms and corporations. CFO Talks is a brand of the South African Institute of Business Accountants. This is CFO talks. I’m Ciaran Ryan. Joining me today is Mark Putzier, who has 25 years’ experience as a frontline finance executive. In fact, there’s not much that Mark Putzier hasn’t seen in those 25 years. His work has taken him through a variety of different sectors, from fast food to manufacturing. He is a CA with an MBA, and he has a string of awards and acknowledgements to his name, and currently serves as group finance executive at SA Lime and Gypsum. Hi, Mark. How are you doing? MARK PUTZIER: I’m doing well, thanks Ciaran. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and your listeners. CIARAN RYAN: Where are you talking to us from? Are you based in Joburg, Pretoria or where? MARK PUTZIER: I’m actually speaking out of Technopark in Stellenbosch. CIARAN RYAN: Okay. And also on the line we have Nicolaas van Wyk, who is the chief executive officer of the South African Institute of Business Accountants, our very kind sponsor. Hello, Nicolaas, how are you? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Hello Mark, hello Ciaran. Thanks for being joining this conversation with you today. I’m really looking forward to it. MARK PUTZIER: Thanks, Nicolaas. Appreciate it. CIARAN RYAN: Okay, Mark, you’ve worked with some interesting groups, going from fast food to manufacturing over the 25 years or so. I have to ask you, what was the most challenging assignment that you had in that 25-year career – or was it all a challenge? MARK PUTZIER: Ciaran, I believe that each assignment brings a lot of its own challenges and uniqueness, and I think it’s about how you apply yourself and adapt to each role that you are in. I think with each one comes the normal tests that push you; push your boundaries and manage to go a little bit beyond and above what is needed to be successful at each role. But I think without a doubt the challenges that we faced in this year during lockdown will definitely go down in my books as probably one of the most disruptive that I’ve experienced and I’m sure than when we reflect on 2020, I won’t be the only one that would be saying that. During that period of time, I was actually working for a KFC franchisee, and during lockdown it became a matter of survival for us. All our restaurants were closed. There was absolutely no cashflow to speak of, and our first priority was to look after our 1 200-odd staff members. As a leadership team we had to adapt very quickly to ensure that the business was maintained. There were a lot of things we had to do, and one of the biggest challenges we faced was embracing technology. This obviously included the use of virtual meetings, especially from an exco and a board team perspective. I think that was one of the biggest challenges we faced and then also having to work remotely also gave us some other aspects of effective operations and finance-team management and to manage that was probably the biggest challenge that we faced. As old-school managers, you believe that the staff are only working once they are in the office, I think that was for us one of the biggest challenges we faced. I don’t think we’ll see this type of disruption in our lifetime again. So for me this year was definitely up there with the most disruptive ever. CIARAN RYAN: You don’t think we’ll see this kind of disruption again – is that what you said? MARK PUTZIER: Yes, we’ve probably got to a point now where this is the new normal and we’ve probably gone up and beyond what’s been taught in the textbooks and the financial magazines and at varsity. So we adapt as we go along. I think it’s now a matter of managing the status quo or this becomes the new status quo if you look at it from that perspective. CIARAN RYAN: All right. So you were helping in the management of a KFC franchise. I presume this was a bunch of a KFC stores. MARK PUTZIER: Yes, 34 stores. CIARAN RYAN: Just give us a sense of what happened, because was there a complete shutdown in those stores for a period of time? And did you have to let go of staff, and what happened to cashflow? How did you get through that? MARK PUTZIER: Well, I think for us there was actually no cashflow. I mean, all the doors were closed. The guys had to spend time alone. So we looked at how business was being done. We reworked a lot of our costs and cost controls as a management team. The staff had to take salary cuts, we had to look at foregoing increases and bonuses. We re-negotiated our rentals with our landlords obviously there were no operations taking place. We just said, “We can’t pay you.” We ran a lot of scenarios to see which was the best route to take and what the impact would be if different situations arose. I think for us the biggest challenge was keeping the staff well. We didn’t want to let any staff go – so we were very fortunate that we didn’t let any staff go. From an HQ perspective, we went on short time, especially finance. There wasn’t much happening. from a month-end perspective it was just a matter of doing what we could do from necessity per person, and just making sure that the shareholders were happy with this. We are owned by Sanlam Private Equity, so obviously there’s a corporate aspect that we need to take into account as well. And then also suppliers we had to bring suppliers on board and say, listen guys, we can’t pay you, there are no services being provided. There is no security, there are no cash pickups. G4S, for example – we didn’t pay them because they weren’t delivering any services. There were a lot of things we had to look at that weren’t in the run of the normal business that you would be involved with. CIARAN RYAN: And how are conditions now? Are they getting back to some kind of normal? Percentage-wise where are you at regarding pre-Covid levels, for example? MARK PUTZIER: Our initial projections were it would take at least a year to 18 months to get back to 100% of where we were last year. Obviously, when lockdown got eased, we could do deliveries. But deliveries was 5% of our business at that time, and we only had four or five stores that were doing deliveries. For their turnover to maintain 34 stores just was never viable. But I’m in contact with some of the guys now still at the franchisee, and they say things are looking a little bit better now. They’ve had a good October and November is looking up. And obviously now, with their peak season happening now in these next couple of months, they’re looking to actually claw back some of the cash that they’ve lost. The thing is, once that cash is gone, it’s gone. It’s not that you can recover it in any way. They reckon at least another six to eight months before they get to pre-lockdown levels. CIARAN RYAN: Yes. It’s just interesting that the economy does seem to be rebounding with quite a lot of vigour in these last few months of the year. I mention that because I was talking to Transaction Capital in the last few days and they do debt collections, which is a worry. You know, 77% of unsecured loans in South Africa are currently in distress – distress meaning that they’re behind in at least one payment. And 23% of vehicles and mortgages are in arrears of one month or more. That’s quite a problem, but the rate of pickup is more interesting. So you have to kind of watch this on a month-by-month basis, and it has been picking up quite remarkably over the last few months. Let’s just move on. You’ve got an MBA as well as a CA (SA), so you obviously felt that there were some gaps that you wanted to fill in your understanding of business. That probably explains why you did the MBA. Is that a correct assumption? MARK PUTZIER: That’s a correct assumption. The CA qualification assists in understanding the financial aspects of a business. So it gives you a good grounding from that point of view and the training and the learnings that you gain when you do your audit and at varsity – the guys give you that that think-out-of-the-box type of training, you look beyond just the trial balance and financial statements, and it becomes more of adding value to the business, being a business partner to the team. And I think also assist with looking at the strategic direction that a business goes into. I reached a stage, you know I’ve been 20, 25 years in finance, and I think my finance acumen was down pat, but there was definitely some gaps and you obviously need a little more exposure to marketing, to ops, to HR and IR and that sort of thing. So I thought let me do an MBA. I actually set myself a goal that before I turned 50 I wanted to be a CA, an MBA, and ironically a father as well. So now I’m a father of a 21-month-old son. CIARAN RYAN: Oh, congratulations! MARK PUTZIER: Thanks very much. He keeps me young. I’m a young 32 at the moment, so I’m not 51 at the moment. He definitely keeps me on my toes and I’m also a firm believer that you always look at improving yourself and furthering and bettering yourself and to me studies and doing a lot of reading and that sort of thing also helps quite a bit. Obviously, the MBA has a very generalist feel about it, but it also allows you to change your perspective and consider all facets of a business. I think the learnings that you gain and the exposure that you get are invaluable. Having to work with a team of strangers in an MBA group is also something that makes you go out of your comfort zone. It’s essentially like being in a normal business, if you’re thinking about it, where if you start a new role, you’re meeting strangers, you’re working in a team, you’re finding solutions to complex issues and working to tight deadlines. But in an MBA there are only five or six of you, whereas in a big business you’re looking at 200-300 people. So, I think for me it’s about just fine-tuning my business acumen, being able to add value to strategic decisions and, being on an exco, they look at a CFO to give more than just the monthly financial results. I think that was one of the main things for me and yes, it was a good learning ground for me. I think of the exposure that I gained at a company like SA Breweries, where I worked for 12 years – they were first-class in their processes and procedures and the way they do things. Those learnings I took into my MBA, and they helped me quite a bit. Whenever I was in an assignment and I was uncertain what to do, I would say, okay, what would the SAB do and its amazing what learnings you can take from a company. CIARAN RYAN: All right, Nicolaas, let’s bring you in here. Let’s just get some input from you. One gets a sense – and I think Mark is an example of this – that a lot of CFOs who’ve got a lot of corporate experience are putting themselves out there as kind of freelance guns for hire now. But there are these gaps, and we keep on hearing this from CFOs, that they feel that they have to fill in those gaps either through experience or through additional study. What’s your experience of this? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: I share that view. We have many interactions with CFOs, and they all tell a similar story to Mark’s. They have these amazing careers, working at fantastic companies like Mark just mentioned, SAB, after their studies and then they progress in their careers and they build this whole curriculum, a CV about skills and competencies. There was a study in Canada about moving from CA to CFO, and they tell the story just like Mark has explained. Many of then add MBAs, because it gives them the business angle that I suppose the qualification or designation didn’t provide. So, with all of this SAIBA then registered designation with SAQA, the South African Qualifications Authority for CFOs. It is actually called CFO SA at the entry of NQF9, because it takes into account your MBA or M-level studies, and it reflects on all your skills gained over 10 or so years post qualification. With that designation, we’ve started to build a network in Africa. We’re now establishing relations with Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. There are some amazing CFO associations in Africa and also internationally. So we’ve started to see this development at the CFO level. They are becoming more business partners, needing to interpret finances for all the other departments and making sense of those numbers. But they are also going to the next level and seeing whether they can roll out this designation or this qualification internationally. And that’s what SAIBA is currently doing with our CFO Talks and our international engagements. CIARAN RYAN: Mark, just talk about that for a moment. You seem to have adopted this approach, going out there as a freelance CFO. It’s an interesting development. It does seem to be something quite new. I’ve only started to see this in the last few years. Why did you decide to do that? Had you had enough of the corporate life, or had you felt that you had something that you could bring to businesses that maybe couldn’t afford a full-time CFO? MARK PUTZIER: Yes. I agree with you on that. I think CFO roles are changing as we go along. They are developing from being just the normal bean counters to being more supportive and enablers as such. And I think a lot of CFOs have a wealth of experience that they can impart and pass on and that’s important that you pass it on and see growth around you. Like you say, I think a lot of SMEs just don’t have the financial means to employ a CFO on a full-time basis. So if you are a gun for hire, it gives you that short-term significant impact that you can impart in a short space of time. I think the prospect of having your own personal flexibility also adds a lot of appeal. You can dictate how long you want to be in the market for. Also, being able to gain exposure to a number of industries and businesses that you wouldn’t normally do, because if you are stuck in one role unless you move on, you’re not going to get that exposure. And I think that also adds a lot of the excitement to being a gun for hire. It’s like being an auditor. You go from one assignment to the other and you meet different people. You are interacting with different company cultures and that’s also in a very short space of time. I think also there there’s an aspect of entrepreneurial spirit that you now experience. It’s your role, it’s your line of business, it’s your life. So I think that is some of the advantages that I’ve seen at the moment, going this gun-for-hire route. CIARAN RYAN: Nicolaas, you wanted to jump in? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: I love this new approach that the CFOs are adopting, and it shows their resilience. The lockdown has really brought this to the fore, and previously the CFO skills were basically ringfenced for large corporates. But now those skillsets are being made available to the economy. So it’s really a game-changer if you think about it, because Mark’s skillsets are across many companies, over many, many years, and especially the SAB, and he is presenting all of that to the medium sector now, as well as the SME sector. But just imagine if we can coordinate that better, and make it available for this new market. I suppose that’s also how we want to play a small role – and that is giving objective confirmation of the competency that Mark has now achieved over so many years. That’s why we came up with a designation CFO. It’s not as much writing an exam than being acknowledged for what you’ve achieved, and then setting a standard for that, so that market then has access to a trustworthy group of people that can really build the economy. CIARAN RYAN: What do you say to that, Mark? Let’s take a step back there. The academic route – we’ve already discussed this – is not particularly strong on certain issues, like IT and cybersecurity and strategy, even team management. One of the things that you often hear about accountants is they’re not very good at communication, but as a CFO that’s one of the most important skills that you have to have. This is not something that you are taught in university. You have to acquire that skill as you go. So you have a designation now where you can actually get acknowledged for having achieved that. What’s your view on that? Is that something that’s advantageous, and also helps build a better network among finance executives? MARK PUTZIER: I definitely agree with that statement. If you look at varsity now and whether the curriculum has changed over the last 25 years when I last studied, I don’t know whether that actually happens. I think there are definitely some shortcomings from an HR perspective and the softer side of business in developing those skills. You are thrown in the deep end, you don’t know what your management style is until you’re actually managing somebody. Some people take to it like a fish to water, others really struggle. And accountants, I think – I might be shooting myself in the foot there and setting myself up for some abuse – but accountants sometimes have difficulty in expressing themselves, and, like you say, being good communicators. So it’s definitely a learning curve. Something that you learn at the MBA level is dealing with different types of personalities, HR or IR. If I’d done the MBA before the CA, I might’ve been a better manager and a better leader much quicker. But as you go along you actually start adapting your management style. I’ve probably got three or four different types of styles rolled into one, so you learn as you go along. Then also your comment about cybersecurity and IT, you know you don’t learn anything about that at varsity. So you also have to learn on your feet when you’re in business and unfortunately, in my experience, I’ve found that especially your smaller type businesses, your SMEs, are very loath to spend money on IT or cybersecurity. So that has always been my challenge, just to get buy-in from MDs or CEOs and say, listen guys, you need to spend money. There’s an aspect here, we are at risk. Until you have a system breach or a server that falls over, that brings business to standstill, that’s when the waking takes place – and sometimes that’s too late. I think, especially now with technology and the way things are going, and the number of attacks on businesses from ransomware and malware and all these viruses that take place, it’s even more important. If they could incorporate that at pre-grad level that would be awesome. Then from a strategy perspective as well it can be taught but I think each business has its own uniqueness and that extends a little bit beyond textbooks. It’s only once you thoroughly understand the nuances of a business and the industry that you are working in that you can really start adding value and enable the strategic direction that the business takes. I agree, I think there are some shortcomings, but it’s like anything. You can’t teach everything at varsity, there are certain things that you will learn when you’re out in the field. CIARAN RYAN: Okay. Just talk about the change or the evolution of the role of the CFO. You’ve already mentioned that there’s an expectation that they’re no longer just presenting the financial statements at the end of the year, or the end of the month. There’s a lot more expected of them. In your 25 years, how have you seen that role evolve? Maybe go back 25 years and just sort of describe what was typically expected of the CFO compared to what’s expected today. MARK PUTZIER: Years ago you were all seen as bean counters, just getting the financials out and the monthly reports out on time and accurate. Basically you were seen as back-office operators. But now things have changed and you need to come to the fore. I suppose at the end of the day about what value you can add, and not just picking up a cheque at the end of the month. Your CEOs, your MDs are looking for someone to support them and help them, to be a sounding board in a lot of respects, because they might have ideas, but will it work from a financial perspective. You can throw in the financial side and I think, if you look at some of the CEOs on some of the big companies on the JSE, there are a lot of CAs there. So I think CAs, despite what a lot of people think – that we don’t have personalities and we don’t have a sense of humour – I think there’s still a lot of value that we can add. Like I said, from a strategic point of view, I think strategy gets thrown around a lot and some people have different views on what a strategy is and what is strategic. But I think you learn as you go along. It’s just about being support to the top management. I think also a lot of time it’s also about what you can impart from a growth and a leadership role, that you can give. And sometimes people don’t understand or know the impact that you deliver, but once you stand back you can actually see finance and CAs and CFOs definitely have over the years developed and changed their role considerably. CIARAN RYAN: This has been the most peculiar year, probably, that you’ve ever experienced. Nobody really saw this coming – that there would be this lockdown. I certainly thought in the beginning it was going to be oh, a couple of months maybe, and then we are back to normal and how wrong we were. It has put a tremendous amount of stress on every business out there. You’ve already spoken about KFC. They were actually shut down. Other businesses were allowed to operate at a sort of very low rate. But what do you see happening if you step back and just look at the economy, given the sort of cashflow problems that businesses are in and they’ve had to survive this time. Is there some optimism returning from what you are seeing? MARK PUTZIER: Yes, I think there is. Here at SA Lime and Gypsum they’ve got two or three main revenue streams and one of them is agriculture, the other is industrial. Obviously there’s been no real cashflow from the industrial side, but agriculture has really carried these guys through. They’ve actually had a phenomenal year in that respect in terms of their turnover it’s been awesome, and they’re very optimistic. The agricultural sector is very optimistic, they’ve had some good rains, and they’re looking at another good season going forward. So I think there are pockets of optimism in the country, but we as South Africans enjoy adversity, and we love to rise above whatever gets thrown at us. I think as a country we’ll pull through and we’re going to come out much stronger. I think we have some of the best business brains in the world, which will further help us to achieve where we should be going and bring out the optimism in all of us. CIARAN RYAN: Just talk a little bit more about SA Lime and Gypsum. The one part of the business you said is agriculture. Yes and it’s been a phenomenal year for the farmers. I think its contribution to GDP has actually grown something like 50%, I was reading quite recently. But what are the other parts of the business? MARK PUTZIER: They’ve got the industrial side, which is like your aggregate, so they supply to guys that do roads, building, PPC Cement, gypsum and that. We are obviously waiting – once government really starts kickstarting the economy and the infrastructure spend takes place, we’re hoping that that’s going to have a good inflow for us. At the moment we are just building up stocks so that when it does happen we are ready for it. Those are the two main streams, obviously agriculture and industrial. CIARAN RYAN: And overall, how’s it been for them for the year, apart from the agriculture? If you combine the two, how’s it looking? MARK PUTZIER: They’ve smashed budgets that they set for the year, and also against last year, they really exceeded that. Also, during lockdown, they also had – and that included one month that we actually had no sales took place, which was in April. So they’ve actually really gone above and beyond. And I think the guys were very positive and are very happy with the year that they’ve had, so there are some smiling faces around here. CIARAN RYAN: All right. Tell us about your career path. Where did you grow up, and how did you end up where you are today? MARK PUTZIER: Well, I’m a Eastern Cape boytjie, born in a small little town called Humansdorp. I had my schooling in Port Elizabeth, spent a stint of five or six years in East London when I was very young. I finished my schooling and my tertiary degree at The then UPE that was in 1991. So, we are going back a good couple of years. I completed my articles at Deloitte & Touche, and then started my commercial career in the tannery business, working for a company called Exotan. We did exotic hides. As things are now, you wouldn’t really consider doing things like crocodile and buffalo and snake, but ostrich was a big export business that we had. From there, moved on to Afrox as a trade manager, which was a total shift in what I was used to from a finance perspective, but I had a good exposure there and good learnings. Then from there I spent 12 years at SAB, which was, like I said, a phenomenal company to work for and they are still a phenomenal company. They’ve just shown what they’ve done. I joined them round about the time when they started their international footprint, and they just went from strength to strength. My wife and I always wanted to end up down in Cape Town, so we left PE and we did a two-year stint in George. I worked at Fancourt for two years. I didn’t improve my golf game, I must be honest, even though I tried to play as much golf as I could and then moved to Somerset West in 2011. I worked for a Canadian labelling company called CCL Label. They are the biggest PSL labelling company in the world, which is a pressure-sensitive label. They eventually sold the business off to Bidvest, and they closed the factory down. So, then I moved on to a company called Mac Brothers as CFO, they a stainless-steel manufacturer and installer of industrial kitchens. We did a lot of work for the Spur Group, Sun International and Burger King. Eventually Grand Parade bought out Mac Brothers, so we became a subsidiary of theirs and from there I branched out into the KFC franchisee business. I got to a point where I wanted to be more involved in a company that had an entrepreneurial sort of spirit, and joined a company that had a one-man-band operator. He opened his first KFC in Upington and had built up to 28 stores at that point in time. So I just wanted to get into a role where I could learn from an entrepreneur. And then from there, I ended up at SA Lime and Gypsum on a contract basis, I lost my job during Covid. At the moment, I’m sort of in between jobs and just getting as much exposure as I can to different roles in different businesses. That’s me at the moment. CIARAN RYAN: Okay. What an interesting career path. Now, what books are you reading or that kind of influenced you that you would recommend? MARK PUTZIER: I must be honest, I enjoy reading autobiographies. I’m not much of a fiction-type person. So during lockdown I scrounged through my library and I pulled out two books that I hadn’t read for a long time, and they are both ironically rugby-related. For my sins I’m a Bulls supporter, and I went back and I read the book Victor, which was about Victor Matfield. And then also Captain in the Cauldron, John Smit’s autobiography. So those are two books I read. Then I also decided, let me read my thesis that I did in 2017, which was on the fourth industrial revolution. I just had a relook at that and was amazed at how many things have changed over the last two or three years from a technology perspective. We talk about exponentiality and it’s amazing how things have just really shot up and things that I was looking at and I was researching have come to fruition much sooner than I thought. So those are three things that I read in the last couple of months. I was just trying to find the time between chasing my son around the house. CIARAN RYAN: [Chuckling] Those sound like two good books, two of the all-time greats of world rugby. John Smit has got to be, in my opinion, one of the greatest rugby captains of all time. What he pulled off was just astonishing. I don’t know if you agree with that and an interesting character too. MARK PUTZIER: Yes. for my sins I married a Sharks supporter, so I had to read that book because she bought it for me. But I have to agree with you. A lot of people say that as a hooker maybe he wasn’t the best, but as a leader he was definitely head and shoulders above anybody else at that point in time. So I have to agree with you 100% on that. CIARAN RYAN: And he delivered the results, didn’t he? That’s the important thing. Nicolaas, we never asked you what you are reading. Well, what are you reading or have been reading during the lockdown? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: That’s a quick one. I’ve got a wife and three daughters and they gave me a book about womanhood. It’s taught me a lot about how I as a male don’t understand females at all. Then I’m also a little bit more into philosophy. I’m currently doing something on Augustine and Aquinas. I have discovered late in life how important philosophy and logical thinking are in solving difficult business issues. I’m a lot into that at the moment. CIARAN RYAN: Is that about St Augustine, who is actually the African saint from northern Africa? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Exactly, yes. There’s a strong African theme there – as with Aquinas obviously with his thoughts. And then I bought a book by a professor of history about Africa developing since 1950 to about the 1990s – that whole independence period. I was amazed to, just again I suppose, discover how significant the changes were that Africa experienced from being colonial for 300 or more years, and then suddenly in a few years, from 1940 to the fifties, seeing 50 or more countries become independent, which was a tremendous experience in the African way of life and culture. What I see today is that we are still struggling with that. If you think, it’s how many years – 70 or more. It’s not that many years of struggling to compete with the former colonial powers and being influenced by them and trying to find our own way. But I think a lot of what we’re experiencing today is maybe small in comparison to what those early independence fighters experienced all across Africa. It was a tremendous change, and something that’s still ongoing. That book has helped me because we are expanding into Africa, so I needed to understand different African countries and cultures, their own independence struggles and their thinking. The funny thing, half of Africa – in my own ignorance I didn’t know – is French-speaking, which really changes our strategy if we want to expand into Africa. So we have to be bilingual. We have to speak French and English. And I find those French-speaking countries have a big affinity for France, which is a strange development. Africa is very interesting, very diverse, and if we can coordinate and align our activities there’s so much vibrancy. And we hope to do that with our African finance executives. Those are the books I’m reading. CIARAN RYAN: Okay. All right. Fantastic. Great. Mark, any final thoughts you want to share with us before we close off? MARK PUTZIER: Just coming back to the optimism that we need to exude, I think going forward that’s going to be a good uphill battle, but I think at the end of the day we are going to be much better and stronger for the lockdown. And for me, it’s just about the guys sticking through, staying away from Covid as far as possible. So,stick to washing your hands, wearing your mask, social distancing. While it’s very finicky, I think we need to know that this disease is real and we just need to stay away from it as far as possible and stick to the protocols that need to be in place. And I just wish everybody good luck in the year ahead and everybody a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, and lets see what 2021 presents for us.. NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Thanks, Mark. I did recall the name of that book, the first one, it’s Captivating. I’m learning a lot. CIARAN RYAN: What does it tell us that we don’t know about women, so I don’t need to be disrespectful? What is the message from it? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: I think being romanced is core, and our responsibility to be an adventure for them. We are so busy working and being functional as males. There is a feminine character – and one of them is being adventurous and being able to provide that and walk that journey with our counterparts. I find that interesting because I’m thinking a lot about females entering the workplace, which we now see as a tremendous development, changing economies worldwide. But obviously the workplace being filled by males for hundreds of years, with females now becoming in the majority – that’s certainly true at SAIBA – how does that change the workplace? And then how do we get the feminine character into business, whereas it’s currently very male-driven. So I think there’s also an identity issue to be resolved by females on how they want to presented in business. CIARAN RYAN: That sounds fascinating, a fascinating read, for men to read, I’m sure. NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Yes, it’s very helpful. It keeps you out of trouble.. CIARAN RYAN: [Laughing] All right. Any final thoughts, Nicolaas? NICOLAAS VAN WYK: No. Mark’s story is so amazing and being an outsource CFO I think is really an economic game-changer. It’s something that as SAIBA we really would want to work with, with him and other CFOs in his circumstances to unlock, because there are SMEs and medium-sized businesses in need of their skills, but we need to connect them. CIARAN RYAN: Absolutely. Yes, it is a game-changer. I think making these skills available to the businesses that really need them, and bringing their networks, their contacts with sources of finance and banks, and their ways, their knowledge on how to structure debt and so on, is going to be a fascinating development over the next year. Would you agree with that, Mark? MARK PUTZIER: I agree with you a hundred percent, I think the new normal is something totally different and something we need to embrace. Yes, I think if you look at Gen X and the time that they spend there at each role, I think CFO is going to become the same sort of concept in that you’re going to spend less time in each role and just move on and just keep on imparting your knowledge and grow businesses that way. CIARAN RYAN: Okay, fantastic. We are going to leave it there. That was Mark Putzier, who is currently working as a finance executive at SA Lime and Gypsum. but is actually a freelance gun for hire, and Nicolaas van Wyk, who is the chief executive officer at the South African Institute of Business Accountants. Thanks, both of you, for coming on and talking to us. MARK PUTZIER: Thank you very much, gents. NICOLAAS VAN WYK: Thanks Ciaran, thanks Mark.

Ciaran is a seasoned journalist and podcast host. He has a back-ground in finance and mining, having pre-viously headed up a gold mining operation in Ghana.In this podcast he interviews various CFOs, get-ting more detail on the role of the CFO and their daily challenges and solutions.


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