Coping with COVID-19: How financial leaders can thrive in a COVID-19 world and beyond

Editor's Note

In order to keep Ottawa business leaders informed in this unprecedented health and economic crisis, OBJ is conducting a series of discussions over the coming weeks with members of Ottawa's business community. This special episode of Coping With COVID-19 is sponsored by CRGroup. 

In this Coping with COVID-19 podcast episode, OBJ publisher Michael Curran speaks with Dr. Vijay Jog, president of CRGroup – a local leader in guiding businesses through a digital transformation – to discuss how CFOs and financial leaders can build stronger, modern and agile companies.

This is an edited transcript of the discussion. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above.

OBJ: We’re in a very unique economic situation. Vijay, what are you hearing from CFOs?

JOG: CFOs are saying they’re getting tired of scenario planning and doing “what-ifs” because the situation is so fluid. We hear things about cash flow, and questions about what to do with a team. We are hearing that teams are stressed about their personal health and, of course, their financial health while also managing the company’s health. This is a really challenging situation for many CFOs depending on where they are. Some companies have revenues at zero, which has never happened before in their lifetime. We are in a completely new world and we need to think differently. 

OBJ: What are the significant pressures and challenges being faced by CFOs?

JOG: It has been reported that CFOs are under pressure in all four dimensions: Ability to delegate, tensions between old and new, role stretch and concern over finance function. What I am seeing, however, is that role stretch is coming to CFOs at a faster speed than ever before. Every function within the company is coming to the CFO seeking help and support in addition to their everyday job. This is getting really challenging for CFOs. 

OBJ: With that increase in demand on CFOs, can we talk about digital transformation and what that means from a finance perspective?

JOG: To keep it simple, it really means to reduce friction. If you’re dealing with stakeholders, from customers to employees and suppliers, how do we use technology to make sure we are doing things faster, better and cheaper? 

Taking McDonalds for example, they have spent millions of dollars on digital transformation. It has touchscreen kiosks, instituted mobile ordering and payment and has arranged curbside pickup with Uber Eats which reduces friction on the delivery and supply chain. From a CFO perspective, this is a big challenge because our traditional business case analysis does not yield to this type of scenario. Sometimes we have to go with faith and say “If I do not do this, then I will be out of business, or my competition will gain so much market share that I will be left behind.” 

This shows us that digital transformations were here before COVID-19. But now it will be front and centre. People are realizing if they do not align themselves with technology, they will not be around.