The most valuable qualities in a CFO
This month, we’re taking a look at some of the highest paid and most successful CFOs in Canada to see what specific characteristics standout and contribute to their healthy incomes and the reputable titles that have been earned.
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Who they are, what they’ve earned and how they’ve earned it
Dean McCann, the chief financial officer of Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd. was recently given the title of being Canada’s CFO of the year. Not only does McCann have experience in finance, but he is also known for achieving strong results during periods of global economic uncertainty. Furthermore, McCann is a graduate of the McMaster Chartered Director program at Queen’s University, having gained a bachelor in commerce and a business degree.
As a recipient of “Canada’s CFO of the Year” award, McCann is recognized for traits that include quality, insight, direction and leadership. According to Bloomberg, McCann earned over US$2 million in 2014 as total compensation for his work. This income includes salary, bonuses and other types of compensation.
Brian D. Lawson
Brian D. Lawson is not only Brookfield Assest Management’s CFO, but he is also a senior managing partner of the company. Being with the group since the early 90s, Lawson has acquired talents and qualities that include financial reporting, risk management and funding activities of the organization. These qualities are believed to have helped Lawson earn $3.2 million dollars in total compensation in 2014 according to Bloombers.
Lawson originally graduated from Trinity College School in 1978, followed by a Bachelor of Arts from University of Toronto in 1983. Other valuable qualities Lawson has been able to acquire throughout his career in senior management include leadership, dedication and reliability.
As the CFO of RBC, or the Royal Bank of Canada, one of Janice Fukakusa’s responsibilities is to set the overall strategic directions of the bank. She’s also accountable for enabling the integration of governance and overseeing the day to day functional, operating and technology activities across RBC.
With a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration from Schulich School of Business, Fukakusa has experience and a range of knowledge and skills in different areas, such as operating and technology activities, managing accounts, corporate finance and strategic developments. According to Bloomberg, she earned over US$5 million during fiscal year 2014, with the combination of her salary, bonuses and other types of compensation. When asked about valuable CFO qualities, Fukakusa said this:
“Over the course of my 10 year career as CFO, I’ve seen considerable change, increased complexity, and unprecedented conditions. To be successful in this environment, you must be transparent, adaptable and recognize that times of change can present great opportunities. Most importantly, it requires a team of hard working and dedicated individuals who can drive strategy and lead change – positioning us to better serve our clients, employees, shareholders, and communities.”
Among other titles, Colleen Johnston is the CFO of TD Bank Group. Graduating from York University in Toronto in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, she’s been with TD Bank Group since 2004. Throughout her career, Johnston has been associated with various qualities that have undoubtedly allowed her to earn US$3.4 million in total compensation at the end of 2014 fiscal year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Due to past experiences, as well as current ones with TD Bank Group, Johnston has attained a range of valuable characteristics that include leadership, dedication and power. She was recognized by Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women three years in a row and has been named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker. She is well known for promoting diversity in the workplace.
Which qualities bring in the higher incomes?
It’s clear that certain qualities can help contribute to higher incomes. But, specifically, what are these qualities and how can they be obtained. For example, are leadership and dedication something you’re born with, gain with experience or learn over time?
Looking at each of the high earning CFOs mentioned above, it’s noticeable that education is important. It takes knowledge and dedication to go after specific goals, which these examples have not only done, but have also been able to earn a profit by doing so. And while dedication is a vital characteristic in order to get to the top, it’s arguable that experience is equally important.
McCann, Lawson, Fukakusa and Johnston didn’t start at the top; they didn’t become CFOs overnight. It was through experience that they were able to not only acquire valuable traits, but also perfect them. Then, of course, once each proved to have a grasp of the right qualities, the high salaries followed.
In short, not just one characteristic has allowed these four CFOs to become successful. As well, there are various routes and methods to get to build a respectable career and earn a substantial salary. However, McCann, Lawson, Fukakusa and Johnston can definitely act as a guide to follow.
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Note: This article originally appeared in the June edition of Business Review Canada
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.