The CFO’s guide to scaling smart

with Erik Nakamura, CFO of Orange Comet

Kate Wilson | MAY 22, 2024

4 min read

Key takeaways

  1. With digital transformation, the right team makes all the difference
  2. Technology for efficiency, not busywork
  3. CFOs today need to go beyond the numbers to become strategic business partners
  4. Constantly evaluate the technology you use to check it’s actually helping you scale and work efficiently
  5. Relationship-building and soft skills are essential for modern finance leaders in high-growth companies

Welcome back to For the Love of Finance, the series where we decode insights from finance leaders and turn them into practical insights for your career. 

In this episode, we chat with Erik Nakamura, a finance leader with over two decades of experience across different industries.

Erik dives deep into strategies for building a culture that prioritizes being cost-conscious alongside strategic growth. 

Read on (or watch the video above) to hear about the evolving role of the modern CFO in the digital age, and the power of using AI effectively while avoiding common technology pitfalls. Plus, get insights on building better collaboration across business functions and the importance of trust, respect, and prioritizing people over profit in leadership.

You can connect with Erik on LinkedIn here.

With digital transformation, the right team makes all the difference

Digital transformation isn’t just about technology. You need a team around you with the right mindset – people who are focused on growth and improvement, not just following processes. They should be comfortable evaluating and improving existing workflows to make them more efficient.

Technology for efficiency, not busywork

Technology and automation can free your team from manual tasks like data entry and integrations, allowing them to focus on more strategic work. It can also ensure compliance tasks like payroll and audits are handled efficiently at scale, which is key for fast-growing organizations.

CFOs today need to go beyond the numbers to become strategic business partners

Using technology to streamline processes positions CFOs as strategic business partners. By demonstrating a deep understanding of the company’s needs, they can use their insights to drive growth and scaling.

Constantly evaluate the technology you use to check it’s actually helping you scale and work efficiently

With new tools being released constantly, don’t be swayed by the novelty factor. Focus on tools that address specific needs and make your team faster and more efficient. Regularly evaluate if a new tool is actually helping you work faster, whether it’s providing more data, speeding up processes or allowing for better scaling. 

If you’re trying out Generative AI (like Chat GPT or Gemini), remember that it needs proper guidance. Just as you would instruct an employee, use specific prompts to get the desired results. Review AI outputs critically and be prepared to correct them if necessary.

Relationship-building and soft skills are essential for modern finance leaders in high-growth companies

Quantitative skills are table stakes for CFOs. The most effective finance leaders have high EQ and soft skills. CFOs that drive growth need to build trust and rapport with the executive team and board. Effective communication and empathy are crucial for getting buy-in and driving action based on financial insights. 

Great leaders take criticism constructively and are quick to praise their team. Building relationships, active listening and showing empathy are superpowers to CFOs, especially in growth-oriented companies. As a leader, fostering a culture where people feel comfortable asking questions and learning from mistakes is essential for overall success.

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