Wise counsel from Cisco's departing CFO Dennis Powell:
The best finance teams should "think strategically, work cross-functionally, and actually embrace change," says Powell, who spent 11 years at the San Jose, California-based computer networking giant, 5 of them as CFO. To lead successfully, he adds, "CFOs need to really evaluate what role finance is playing and remember that at the highest level it's far beyond having a strong system of accounting."
Powell spoke at CFO magazine conferences, touting Cisco's efforts to shorten monthly close – they had it down to 48 hours and were aiming for a continuous real time close, much to the astonishment of many in the audience. The Cisco monthly close process is described here.
Leading change is not for the feint of heart, as Powell well knows. But the rewards of challenging the status quo are agility and competitive advantage.