Behind the Numbers Roundtable Brings Finance Leaders Together

Top finance executives joined Square’s Ajmere Dale for Profile’s Chief Accounting Officer Roundtable to discuss how 2020 is affecting business

In celebration of its final issue of 2020, Behind the Numbers, Profile hosted a roundtable on November 18 with chief accounting officers (CAO) and other finance leaders from a variety of companies. The subject: how they are leading their teams and staying engaged with customers as COVID-19 continues to affect the workplace.

The event was hosted by Square’s Chief Accounting Officer Ajmere Dale and sponsored by Oracle Vice President of ERP Development Catherine You.

Dale cited repayment holidays on loans, for example, as one way to help stabilize Square’s customer base and “drive engagement and loyalty.”

“And then we also, from a product innovation standpoint, fast-tracked one of the e-commerce products and tooling that we have on the roadmap and sort of just roll that forward because a lot of our customers didn’t have an e-commerce presence, they only had a brick-and-mortar store,” Dale said.

Zoom screenshot of finance leaders attending Behind the Numbers roundtable

Human resources teams are also making sure to share information on benefits related to stress reduction, You said. She noted that while global teams were already accustomed to using Zoom, some employees are indicating they are tired of online meetings, so managers are doing what they can to respect their desire for less of them.

“There’s a Zoom fatigue now,” You said. “So we had to put in some policies where [for example we have] no Zoom on Fridays sometimes. Because [we are a] global team, we also had to put in some policies. India has Diwali, so let’s be respectful. Let’s not schedule Zoom on those times. So those are the things that as management we’ve had to pay attention to so people don’t burn out.”

Customer transparency is key and paying off big time for companies that prioritize it. You noted that for Oracle, it was important to set expectations from the beginning and acknowledge there would be stumbles as everyone adapted to the new normal. She said customers have been very understanding and appreciative of the Oracle teams working hard on their behalf.

“They’re willing to just work with us, and the key was to share that expectation with them,” You said. “This is not perfect. We’re not going to get this right. And they’re very willing to just adjust and adapt with us.”

Companies are also getting accustomed to new hiring processes due to office closures and social distancing guidelines. New candidates, for example, are being hired and starting work without ever having met their team members in person.

“I never thought I’d hire people without having never met them before,” SWM International Inc. CAO and Corporate Controller Michael Schmit said. “Never thought I’d hire so many consultants to help in various areas and never actually meet them face to face either. We’ve just kind of had to change with the times.”

“It’s very difficult to put a plan together if you don’t have the data to do scenario planning.” —Ajmere Dale

Dale recommends migrating systems to the cloud to enable greater data access for teams.

“If you can prove a point using data that everybody can access, I think decision-making will be a lot quicker,” Dale said. “It’s very difficult to put a plan together if you don’t have the data to do scenario planning.”

Arizona Cardinals Football Club Controller Christine Harms noted that everyone who works in finance needs to take advantage of the digital resources available to them.

“If you haven’t started that transformation to digital information and all of the caveats of your numbers, your dollars, your payables, your expenses, everything, this is really the time to kick in and do that,” Harms said.