Earlier this month, Finance Monthly had the privilege of interviewing the CFO of IBM UK & Ireland (UKI) – Vineet Khurana. Here he discusses his role within the organisation, Brexit implications and offers piece of advice to fledging CFOs.
You have been the CFO of IBM UKI for nearly a year now – what is your favourite thing about your role?
My favourite thing about the role has to be the breadth, reach and influence it offers.
I get to work extremely closely with our Chief Executive and the rest of the leadership team (Sales, Operations, HR, IT, RESO, etc.) not only on all financial matters, but also across a spectrum of other business matters that impact our business – both in the short and long term. As an example, I recently led a piece of work, in partnership with the Corporate Strategy team based at the Headquarters in New York, to re-define our Client coverage strategy in the UK.
As a CFO, I am also presented with opportunities to engage externally with Clients and share with them IBM’s point of view and value proposition, as it relates to Enterprise IT. I personally find this aspect of my role very enjoyable.
What would you say have been IBM UK & Ireland’s major achievements in the past twelve months? What has been your involvement, in relation to them?
Our key focus over the last year has been to align ourselves here in the UK & Ireland with IBM’s transformation as a Cloud Platform and a Cognitive Solutions company.
This is absolutely key for us in order to fully leverage and benefit from the breadth of the Cloud-based cognitive offerings that are available. Associated with this, my role as the Finance Leader for UK & Ireland has been to ensure that our resources and investments are (a) prioritized and (b) deployed appropriately in support of this initiative. Of course, we’ve also had to make sure that we have a revised set of operational/performance metrics and reporting capabilities in place.
Finally, as mentioned above, the work we led as a Finance team in regards to re-defining and making our Client Coverage strategy more effective is something I am particularly proud of.
What is the best advice you could share with Fledging CFOs and Finance Directors?
With the role of finance constantly expanding and finance increasingly needing to play a central part in all business decisions, I really don’t think there has been a more exciting time to be a finance professional.
Technological advances are disrupting the status-quo. Companies are utilising technology to transform their business and the way they interact with their clients and employees. This is being done while industry convergence is producing new agile rivals at breakneck speed. With all this change afoot, the role of the CFO needs to change as well.
CFOs need to embrace business strategy in addition to the financial strategy, understand the changing market/client needs in addition to regulatory changes, and deliver business insight in conjunction with data reporting and analysis.
Therefore, my advice is to embrace this change, as it is key to ensure your increased effectiveness in the role and your ability to deliver enhanced value at the leadership table.
In light of the recent triggering of Article 50 – what is your outlook for the future of IBM UK Ireland in next twelve months and beyond?
IBM has been operating in the UK for over 100 years and as such it is an important market in the context of our global business. We have always done and continue to make significant investments here in support of our business and economy. As an example, we recently announced the establishment of four new UK cloud data centres, tripling our UK cloud data centre capability.
In summary, we are making sure that we are well-placed to help our clients as they transform their businesses by improving their competitiveness, as they prepare to exploit new opportunities.
What are the implications and challenges of global Brexit uncertainties faced by CFOs?
I think we all recognise that we are facing an extended period of uncertainty during the exit negotiations. So at this early stage of Brexit, the approach of the CFO should be to understand the potential exposures their organisations could face.
I believe two significant uncertainties centre around import/export of goods and data and the free movement of resources across the continent. The magnitude of these uncertainties will obviously vary by sector and individual organisation. CFOs should look at mapping the relative exposure of their organisations to these elements by carrying out the data analytics work now. This analysis will then allow for quicker action and informed business decisions to be taken, once the negotiations are concluded and changes in regulations are clear.