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Today’s CFO has evolved from being a role of functional excellence to a strategic business partner working on long-term growth strategies, operational support with business unit presidents and financial strategies to maximize efficiency at a minimized cost. Several key factors help to make this expanded role successful within an organization and maximize shareholder value and long-term growth.
First, reconfiguring and maximizing the organizational structure to align functions allows better support of the business. In fact, a key component of Mattel’s strategy is to structure for growth. In addition to leading the traditional worldwide Finance and Financial Reporting functions, Mattel’s Office of the CFO is also responsible for Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, Information Technology (IT), Corporate Affairs, and Investor Relations. Being able to lead and connect all of these functions allows teams to have a more developed understanding of the needs of the business and, as a result, become stronger strategic partners to the business unit leads. For example, partnering with operations, design and development, manufacturing and marketing teams to create and institute IT tools has increased effectiveness and improved communications across the organization, thereby improving consumer engagement with each brand.
"Our financial leaders are able to use the science of analytics, combined with strategic principles and financial acumen, to help guide decisions to a business"
In addition to having the correct structure for growth, the CFO must be a strategic partner with all organizations in the company supported by a strong group of leaders possessing a broad diversity of varied backgrounds and work experiences. Having several senior financial leaders with strong finance as well as strategy backgrounds helps improve the level of guidance and support provided to business unit leaders in the areas of strategy, business and financial planning and execution. Our financial leaders are able to use the science of analytics, combined with strategic principles and financial acumen, to help guide decisions to a business that is more of an art due to the strong influences of creativity, innovation and trends, including fashion. Also, given the evolving consumer path to purchase, it’s important to provide the right guidance to the businesses in a relatively short period of time so this type of diversity becomes an important piece in going in the right direction.
A third important factor is the need for a robust strategic and financial planning process, which is vital to guarantee alignment across all businesses at the company and to grow the company together. At Mattel our business and consumer insights, corporate, brand, and creative strategies and financial planning processes provide the right filters to guide decisions as to how and where to grow the company. Additionally, with such expertise throughout the organization, the ability to tap into key enablers including consumer insights, market intelligence, customer and consumer feedback, allows for further refinement to drive growth in the business.
In short, as our business continues to evolve to face future demand, so has the role of the CFO. The CFO has become a key strategic business partner with the CEO and other business unit leaders of the company to ultimately drive the business forward in an effective, efficient and more profitable way.