Post Pandemic – How Will We Go Forward?

On the final day of the 2021 Financial Leadership Summit, attendees discussed top concerns for CFOs post-pandemic, authentic leadership, and how AI is reshaping the ways finance teams work.

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Six days of learning. Twenty-four educational sessions. Engaging pre-conference demos and Q&As. Really cool offers, give-aways, and resources in the digital conference bag. Countless pulse questions, virtual conversations, and relationships advanced. FEI chapters from around the U.S. hosted awesome networking events - fun and fast-paced trivia, speed networking, a LinkedIn checkup, new member meet and greet, and a sneak peek into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and next year’s Financial Leadership Summit in Cleveland, OH.

Our final day together saw Conference Chair, Adam Miller from FEI Arizona, pass the virtual baton to next year’s co-chairs, Bill Brodnick and Nick Piszko, from FEI Northeast Ohio. We’ll be “getting the band back together” in person in May 2022.

Karen Schreiber and Matt McGuinn, both Principals in Finance Transformation from KPMG, kicked off the day with their session, Top Concerns for CFOs Post-Pandemic. They shared how a variety of cross-sector business disruptors - customer expectations, social demands, cost of innovation, geopolitics, natural disasters, big data, new business models, and more necessitated the transformation of our teams. Matt mentioned focusing clearly on what moves the needle for your business and not trying to “boil the ocean.” They addressed ways to make your finance function more agile and presented a roadmap for redefining talent management by redeploying, renting, reskilling, and reimagining how to unlock the potential of your most valuable asset, your people. Karen suggested that remote work is here to stay and that we could use these hybrid talent models to exceed employee expectations.

Chris Kearney, Managing Partner, Central Region with Tatum moderated CFO Roundtable: Post Pandemic – How Will We Go Forward? which included panelists Maryann Correnti, CFO of Heinens, Rachael Stewart, CPA, VP of Finance with Derma Health Skin & Laser, and Jay Trumbower, CPA, COO/CFO of the Boulay Group. Maryann told stories of how Heinens’ leadership team took calls from disgruntled customers during the pandemic and how she kept an important vendor afloat by paying their invoice immediately so the vendor could make that period’s payroll. Rachael talked through how grateful she felt as her vendor community came together to uplift one another during stay-at-home orders and how she’s feeling a renewed belief in diverse people working together. Jay walked us through how Boulay created a 15-person “avenger group,” facilitated virtual pet happy hours, and started virtual “water cooler sessions” to connect with one another and offer grace as colleagues encountered challenges.

Jim Collins, Business Analytics Solutions Strategy Executive with IBM offered many stories of his 45 years in business and in how AI is reshaping the ways finance teams work. He started by saying AI may be better described as automated or augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence, and that there are already 3,000+ leading global companies using it. He shared that breaking down internal communication silos is optimal for planning and execution and that cultural evolution is the hardest change to make inside a company. Many may believe that AI is not for them, that it’s hard to understand, that AI is not business ready, or that they should wait and see what happens. Jim shared that there’s value in having an employee or team architect this business change to help you optimize AI through collaboration, creating a robust AI quality assurance process, and harnessing the power of AI to deliver real stakeholder value.

John Rex, Executive Coach and President of Rex Executive Leadership, offered stories about how to become your company’s moral compass. John started his remarks with a shocking story of how he nearly died and what that time with the doctors who saved him taught him about his career. He led attendees through a highly interactive session. He offered many thoughtful questions. The attendees answered vulnerably. John said that effective leadership isn’t possible without authentic leadership. If who you are at home is quite different than who you are in the office, remember, you’re not fooling anyone and you’re not showing up as your whole authentic self. More than 74% of attendees believe being genuine is more effective leadership, but only 20% of attendees said their core values were “very defined.” More than 89% of attendees said it was “very important” or “vital” to live their values in the workplace. Company culture truly is the embodiment of values and walking the talk is living a congruent life where you can take pride in your actions and have peace in your heart.

Facilitating the 2021 Financial Leadership Summit and laughing with you, learning with you, and celebrating with you has been one of my life’s greatest joys. Thank you for blessing me. December 31st, 2021 marks FEI’s 90th anniversary. Please consider investing time into blessing FEI’s staff by messaging them and offering gratitude for all they’ve done to uplift you, your organizations, and your communities. What they’ve done to navigate the pandemic and provide incredible levels of service to their community is worth celebrating.

For recaps of days one through five:

Day 5 - The Skill of Learning New Skills

Day 4 - Uncovering Hidden Stories in Your Data

Day 3 - Steps to Make Your Negotiations Successful

Day 2 - Transparent Leadership in 2021

Day 1 - Finance Leaders are Reimagining How They’ll Protect Employees

Coach, consultant, and author Michael S. Seaver served as emcee of the 2021 Financial Leadership Summit. For more of his insights on generational similarities, managing stress, and next generation leadership, visit michaelsseaver.com.