Mariana Lazaro, CFO Latin America at SumUp, has extensive experience in driving continuous financial and operational improvement, designing and implementing accounting processes and systems, developing and implementing strategic plans, and evaluating and executing mergers and acquisitions. From early in life, Mariana knew that she wanted to work in finance because it was important to her as a woman from an immigrant family to show she knew how to be an independent thinker that was able to own and manage finances. She thinks it is important for any CFO to be creative and nimble, building a finance tribe that invests in technology to be successful.
In this episode of the CFO Playbook, Mariana talks about the importance of innovation in financing for companies and customers, and the traits required of a CFO to build a team and lead it to success through the use of technology. She also provides insight on integrating engineering teams to help accomplish goals and develop a harmonious ecosystem. As well, Mariana speaks about personal and professional empowerment, the importance of continued education, and her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Be open to having your finance team break from the way things have always been done before. Consider bringing in new types of people with varying areas of expertise across finance and accounting. Be innovative by building a more creative team that embraces technology and has different points of view and experiences.
“Something that most CFOs will need to do is to invest in the type of people you put inside of the accounting team. Build finance squads or finance tribes to help provide you the opportunity to take a step forward. Use technology and ensure your team moves ahead as a whole unit.”
Think about integrating engineering teams into your finance work, and find common ground and understanding between your expertise. A little bit of an adjustment in this area can go a long way to avoid difficulties and frustrations, while improving the learning curve of technology. All of this can help serve an effort to create a better ecosystem between teams in your company.
“When we put together a squad that will be working inside of finance, they need to have a tech lead. They need to have somebody in finance that can give guidance on the technical part to an engineer. Create a structure where the squad inside of finance has that tech lead to help decipher what you’re planning that will be able to mentor and follow this engineering person closely.”
As a fixed rule, you need to be very nimble and cater to your employees. Give them choices to provide the best opportunities for them to collaborate and work on their own. When they are able to do tasks on their own, consider allowing them to work remotely. But, also encourage them to come together when launching a new product or creating something new, so that they can be in the best environment for cooperation and collaboration.
“I think it is important to have everybody sitting in their office, to create this trigger, is essential for us to get to the next step. Obviously, I didn’t impose on anybody that they needed to be a hundred percent here in the office. But, for me, to build this synergy among the team it is essential that we are in the office at least two or three times a week.”
Be willing to come out as more outspoken towards having women in leadership. It makes a difference when you see a woman, especially in a finance role, having a leadership position to inspire others. If women see other women in the room they may be more willing to speak up and feel more empowered. Be willing to study and learn from women and their perspectives. This will help you and other women to grow as people and in business.
“A joke I give to my boss every time we are in a meeting and you see only men around is that he should stop the meeting. At least one woman needs to be there. Because if there’s only men at that table, something is wrong; you’re only going to have one point of view. You are not going to get a diverse point of view. You’re not enriching the opinion there. You’re not getting the other backgrounds.”