ABOUT THE ROLE OF CFO – INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT CASSELBRANT
In his role as CFO, Robert Casselbrant has workdays that are fast-paced and highly varied, to say the least. Robert says the role of CFO has become far more broad-based in recent years, and increasing demands are being imposed.
Digitalisation has brought new challenges but also new opportunities for the role of CFO. He believes that in the future the finance department will work increasingly analytically and closer to the operation, and that this will demand a more data-driven decision-making structure. The use of visualisation tools for analysis and reports has been something of a ‘eureka’ experience for Robert and his team, they have understood the potential available from using the power of the graphic image. At the moment he is working to ensure that his staff understand the value of working in a more data-driven way and he is focusing on raising the knowhow level in the company through training courses.
Robert’s advice to other CFOs who want to continue to be relevant in the new digital environment is: “Be inquisitive, raise your sights, and don’t be shy about asking for help. Make sure you get help with identifying the available digital opportunities, and surround yourself with people who are at least as inquisitive as you are!” In this interview Robert offers his views on how the role of the CFO has changed in recent years, and he also discusses the challenges he faces and offers tips and ideas on how the CFO can remain relevant in the new digital environment.
ABOUT THE ROLE OF CFO
I have a fairly broad role and am responsible for the finance department and everything that has to do with economics, as well as other areas such as purchasing and real estate. In addition I am also chairman of the board of Gothnet (subsidiary for fibre networks). So my workday is very varied, to say the least. When I started my journey at Göteborg Energi, one of my main tasks was to expand the company’s business drive and this is something in which I have invested a lot of time in recent years.
THE ROLE OF CFO COVERS A RANGE OF DIFFERENT TASKS, SINCE I PROVIDE STRATEGIC SUPPORT AND ALSO LEAD THE COMPANY FORWARD.
Alongside the CEO, the CFO is one of few roles with a holistic overview of the entire operation. My job is to ensure that the whole picture is clearly seen and made visible. As CFO I have insight into all parts of the company and am involved in all strategic and operative issues. In short, this position is about making visible and optimising the various parts of the processes. It is important to have good insight so you can make efficiency improvements where necessary because ultimately it’s about looking after the shareholders’ interests. One important aspect is therefore to contribute to supplier security for the owners – indirectly the City of Gothenburg.
THE CHALLENGES FACING THE CFO
THE OPPORTUNITIES OF DIGITALISATION
TIPS ON THE WAY – HERE’S HOW THE CFO REMAINS RELEVANT IN THE NEW DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT.
- Never stop developing, always remain inquisitive and continue your business intelligence work. Also make sure you keep an eye on your operation and on what is happening outside.
- Have the courage to step outside your comfort zone and get used to the fact that you are not irreplaceable. You have to keep on your toes and enjoy this alert approach to your work.
- It is vital to dare ask for help – you neither can nor should do everything yourself.
- It is important to be thorough when recruiting new staff, and to think long-term. If someone chooses to leave, I see this as a challenge and start thinking about how I can further develop the role for his or her star replacement.
- More often than not, it is more important to be quick than it is to be entirely right – it’s important to be tactical in order to be successful. If you stay one step ahead, you are perceived as proactive and if you surround yourself with the right people it is easier to maintain a good pace.
- It is important to reach your intended goal in everything you set out to do, to reach a conclusion that is measurable.
ROBERT ON THE SUBJECT OF COOPERATION WITH ADVECTAS
This is a very exciting cooperative venture that has been ongoing for a few years. I feel it is important to seek help – the less mature an organisation is, the more important it is to have support along the way. Advectas has provided us with spearhead competence but has not taken over – instead they have helped boost our internal competence levels. This is not just in the form of one-off events but rather a more long-term relationship where they inspire us and draw up plans and plant ideas. Without thinking about it they initiate thought processes among both me and my colleagues. The experts from Advectas often come in and talk about a new area that they feel we should keep our eye on. Some time passes and suddenly my colleagues are all talking about this particular area and why we should get started. Over the years we have developed close cooperation and as we have grown, so too has Advectas grown, so one might say that we have both developed together.