“Making decisions based on numbers” has always been the leading motto of people working in the investment field. Besides the uniqueness of a brand, the rate of return on investment is a prerequisite for the success or failure of an investment made by large enterprises.
But as a CFO, who is in charge of making the final decision to spend money to invest, will investment decisions be as “soulless” as the numbers?
In this “Transform your possibilities” series, co-produced by RMIT and Vietcetera, Luu Anh Tuan will share about various factors leading to investment decisions. Luu Anh Tuan is now the youngest Country Sales Finance Director at P&G - the multinational corporation behind a series of “national” brands such as Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Downy, or Ariel.
Responsibilities of a CFO do not always revolve around numbers
There are three most important responsibilities of a CFO, shared by Anh Tuan:
- Financial managing for the company
- Planning short and long term financial strategies and plans
- Internal audit
Financial management is not only concerned with financial data but also business strategy and the close cooperation between many different departments, to monitor the financial health of the organization and control cash flow.
And the most important factor is instructing other departments to self-access their financial capacity and ability to invest effectively in different projects with different partners and customers, depending on their own potential and needs. This will help build the financial independence of each employee so that they themselves could make the right decisions that benefit the company.
In his role as CFO, Anh Tuan offers three simple criteria for any employee to easily consider before making a decision.
The first one is whether the plan or project is suitable and follows the company’s strategy.
Second, investment efficiency must be positive and feasible. This investment efficiency formula is the backbone so that each department can make its own decisions, without intervention from the finance department.
Finally, ensure compliance with internal audit policies, to protect the rights of both employees and the company.
One piece of advice that Anh Tuan always gives to financiers is “We are not a mobile computer”. A finance person must consider two more factors before making investment decisions: development orientation, and policies.
With the “non-department” policy, P&G teams can better understand the process when it comes to working closely with other departments. Therefore, a financial leader needs to have soft skills such as leadership and communication skills, in addition to professional skills like logical thinking and sensitivity to numbers.
From a finance intern to CFO
In his 11-year career, P&G is the first and only company where Anh Tuan has worked, through many different positions.
Started as an intern, he has worked through many roles including internal auditor, customer finance, and financial analyst in Vietnam. After that, he was appointed to the role of ASEAN Category Finance Manager in Thailand.
With diverse working experiences in many countries and different areas of corporate finance, Anh Tuan was trusted and appointed to the position of CFO by the group.
In order to have such a seamless promotion path, Anh Tuan has clearly outlined his career goals and developed himself to reach the CFO position. At the same time, he listed out the skills needed: financial analysis, strategy development, judgment skills, leadership, and decision making based on data. By carefully planning this, he could successfully complete his goals in each position he holds.
“Successful CEOs at P&G also have financial backgrounds”
In addition to planning a personal route, Anh Tuan has also observed the advancement path of his seniors. At P&G, he met many seniors who worked as finance managers when they were young. Since then, he has become more confident and motivated to strive hard to follow his own plan.
Successful CEOs at P&G also began their career paths from the finance and accounting department. The new P&G global CEO appointed in November 2021, or P&G’s CEOs in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, all came from the finance and accounting department.
It can be seen that the ability to analyze data and to judge the actual situation of the market is a stepping stone, a solid foundation for financial people to rise to higher positions.
When asked about the process of improving management ability, Anh Tuan shared the knowledge and skills he acquired after completing the MBA program at RMIT. Since joining P&G, he has also openly shared with his manager about his aspirations for personal development, including his decision to study for an MBA, and the company fully supported his goal. P&G’s policy of supporting employees’ flexible working has helped him learn and work in the most effective way, even creating an opportunity for him to have more learning experiences in the international market.
The MBA program at RMIT University helped him hone two more skills to prepare for the position of CFO.
The first one is leadership. It is not possible to lead the team only based on data, but the leader must also have soft skills in communication and human resource management. The human factor plays an important role in deciding whether a leader is good or not.
The second factor is networking skills, helping leaders learn from external environments, from the forerunners, and from different industries.
Grasping that need of students, the MBA program at RMIT has created various sessions for exchanging experiences, networking, mentoring, introducing job opportunities, and future advancement.
Business Consulting - The “academia goes hand in hand with practice” model in the digital age
When asked about the subject that excited him the most, Anh Tuan shared about Business Consulting. In this course, students were allowed to operate an online company by themselves: from business planning, pricing, marketing, and management. The online system might give out many different business risk cases for students to handle.
As a result, students had the opportunity to apply their knowledge acquired in class to test their own solutions against simulated risks.
In addition, students even had to propose and implement group projects to provide models, solutions, and capital needed in the modern working environment.
When the pandemic occurred, companies must quickly switch to online working. This created some difficulties in the process of exchanging and supporting between employees in the company, which was also an obstacle in work progress. Teamwork skills, therefore, were necessary to maintain a solid mentality and spirit at work.
During this time when it is economically uncertain, communicating with employees and managing risk from policy and revenue fluctuations are two important tasks that a manager needs to focus on.
The MBA program at RMIT has helped Anh Tuan hone his leadership skills, build inter-departmental communication relationships, and manage risks, to excel in his job as CFO at P&G.
These also are the skills a financial person should focus on, besides analyzing numbers and data.
Adapted by Thao Van