Chief Financial Officer

Partner in Finance at PwC Discusses How to Lead Finance Transformation with People

Bob Demeter, Partner in Finance at PwC, emphasized how important it is to create the right work environment—including training in digital technology—to attract talent in a gig economy.

“We often forget the people side of finance transformation,” stated Demeter at the outset his thought leadership presentation at the 2019 Finance Leadership Forum: The Evolving Role of the CFO, held in Chicago on May 16. “This is interesting, because I think most of us would say that the most valuable assets we have in our organizations are the individuals working in our teams—and, they’re the most expensive assets to replace as we go through these large transformations,” he observed.

“I’m going to talk about global trends that are affecting how finance, CFOs, chief accounting officers, and FP&A leaders are thinking about their business and what’s impacting it. Data is a real part of what’s driving our businesses and our finance organizations now and going forward. Those skills and those changes will impact our people intimately as we think about transforming our organizations,” said Demeter.

“What should we be thinking about first? Blockchain, robotics, AI, data visualization, and cloud are levers, and every single one impacts our people and what they need to be successful. We’re undergoing a shift in how we talk about the operating model of finance. It used to be about people, process, and technology. Now we talk about performance. Today, technology is table stakes in an organization. Performance is how you use the data you have available to you now to drive business decisions,” he said.

“We, in finance, have been looking for a seat at the table as strategic partners for years. We want to be the people telling the company what will be happening in the future. To do that, we have to be really good at the data side of things, which is the performance aspect,” Demeter noted.

Surveys conducted by PwC found that 78% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills, and 37% are worried about automation putting jobs at risk. PwC’s Workforce of the Future report found that 60% of those in the workforce believe few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future, and 74% of the current workforce is ready to learn new skills or completely retrain to remain employable. “In addition, there are workers in the gig economy who are trying to figure out how to be a person of value using their hard technical skills, but they don’t want to work in a brown burlap cube and “punch the clock” for 50 or 60 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. This gig worker wants to be able to do things on their phone or their iPad that don’t tie them to a space,” said Demeter.

“Younger professionals are looking for ways to work differently, because they have different goals and career aspirations than many of us did. They’re comfortable with disruptive technology. In fact, they love it! They’re flexible, and they do a much better job of sharing ideas across borders,” he said.

“This new type of employee leads to different types of roles—the technogeek, the problem solver, the treasure hunter, the dreamer, and the controller—all of which relate to how they utilize data. Given that data is so important, this means skill sets are changing. By 2021, it’s predicted that 23% of graduates will have deep data-science and analytics skills, and 60% of employers will prefer job candidates with deep data-science and analytical skills over those without these skills. The need for data scientists is changing what organizations are looking for, but we’re mostly graduating accountants and finance majors,” Demeter pointed out.

Demeter outlined four steps to drive digital workforce transformation:

  1. Assess organizational and talent digital benchmarks.
  2. Advance existing talent.
  3. Add new talent.
  4. Accelerate everyone. “There’s not a single person in your organization for whom it’s not important to be digitally trained in this current and future environment.”

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 Leadership in Corporate Divestitures and Acquisitions Deep Dive in San Jose, CA on Dec 11, 2019

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