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Rosen has decades of global financial leadership experience and is always on the move in the pursuit of the next answer. The next solution to a problem.
When he joined OpenText he leveraged his experience in leading significant ERP transformation projects to use a PMO approach to his organization. With his team handling forty to fifty major initiatives happening at a time, Rosen saw the need for a better structure and more efficient engine.
“Treat every department with a dedicated project management lens,” he explains. “Every project needs a charter, focus on what you are trying to achieve, an understanding of the issues, and continuous tracking. This will create discipline and the level of communication, clarity, and accountability needed, especially in a highly transformative environment.”
Rosen’s Big Three
Communication is key, including frequency, tone, and content. Rosen said part of what has made him so successful in his career is his willingness to follow a line of questioning all the way through, going ‘seven layers deep.’
In coming to any organization, Rosen immediately sets his sights on the same three issues: bottlenecks, duplicates, and gaps, where communication is the key.
When Rosen joined OpenText, he spoke with numerous business partners to understand where the opportunities existed, asking two basic questions: what do we do well and where can we improve? The organization, processes, and systems need to be dissected and well understood to ensure that key decision-makers have all the best options available to make the choice.
Howard Rosen has been improving the financial situations of institutions since before he graduated college. He was one of the founders of the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union, which was officially chartered in 1983. Today, that organization has over $17 million in assets, two ATMs on campus, and an extensive list of alumni interns who have gone on to extremely successful financial careers.
“This started with me doing the books by hand. And now two of my daughters have both worked there, with one serving as chief operating officer,” Rosen says. “To see it flourishing after thirty years is pretty incredible.”
“An important part of my role is to provide optionality, whether it’s creating opportunities for efficiencies or continuous value-add,” he says. “Accounting is not just about closing the books. It’s about providing information that is used across the organization to make key business decisions.”
When it comes to his approach to external partners, the CAO believes that it’s not about the right firm but rather the right team. Too many times, new leaders bring in consultants to do the job that should be done themselves. Consultants can be critical to filling knowledge and expertise gaps. Rosen’s current mission to modernize his tax department is a testament to patiently finding what he calls “the best people that he has ever met.”
Looking ahead, Rosen’s push to find new efficiencies is leading the OpenText team to examine robotic process automation (RPA).
“I explain to my team that I’m going to take forty minutes worth of work off their desk so they can handle more important things,” he explains. “Every team member wants to focus on important value-added activities, so we recognize how important automation is in everything we do.”
Automating processes and tightening up efficiencies is part of a larger effort that Rosen calls Brilliant Basics. “It’s about taking our core foundation and making it super solid to ensure we can create exponential efficiencies. Before you are going to automate, invest in the foundation. Then you will drive the highest quality without needing to reprogram or fix along the way.”
Rosen embraces a continuous improvement mindset based on three key principles: smarter, better and faster. He believes in using the right terminology and relatable terms so that his teams can easily adopt a mindset and incorporate it into everyday situations. Rosen uses this approach not only to question current ways of working in a systematic way but to also motivate his team and create inclusivity.
Another unique approach adopted by the finance team at OpenText is to leverage six sigma. “This enables our finance teams to create the critical mindset needed to consciously think about process improvement.” With the company and function growing immensely over the past decade, coupled with the vast improvements in technology, Rosen often tells his team that “it’s important to remember that what got us here is not necessarily going to get us where we want to go.”
Always Day One
When it comes to recruiting today, finance leaders at the company look for people who have a strong propensity for technology, science, and data. Rosen looks at these people as “technologists”: someone who embraces innovation and can create ways to do their jobs better.
During the pandemic, Rosen was constantly looking for gaps that were created through virtual work. He quicky implemented virtual “stand up” meetings where his team would huddle together daily during critical projects. This allowed for key people on the project to get together for fifteen minutes to stake stock in the project status, identify key blockers, ensure everyone understands the key mission for the day along with their associated role.
“It’s amazing what a daily stand up can do to bring the team together when you can’t walk by someone’s office anymore,” he says. “A formal forum for communication where you can hold your team members accountable and align on critical goals is key in our virtual environment.
This is just another example of Rosen’s transformative mindset. “It’s what I do and what keeps me energized every day.”