60 Mingling Finance with Product with Mariana Lazaro, CFO Latin America at SumUp

26 May 2022   |   13 Minute Read

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This episode of the CFO Playbook features an interview with Mariana Lazaro, CFO Latin America at SumUp. Mariana 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.

Throughout her career, Mariana has become experienced with leading providers in the Technology, Bio Technology, Agriculture and Financial Services industries with Fortune 500 publicly traded corporations and private equity backed companies. She has been recognized for her ability to develop cross functional relationships and build high performance teams, while motivating and aligning personnel around a common set of goals.

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 provides insight on integrating engineering teams to help accomplish goals and develop a harmonious ecosystem. Mariana also speaks about personal and professional empowerment, the importance of continued education, and her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Guest Quotes

“It has always been my goal to work in the payment industry because inside of the payment industry, the finance department is not a back office. So you’re not talking about the accounting department, you’re talking about the department that’s going to be really together with the business, delivering the product. So with SumUp or Square, any of those fintechs, finance is really the front of the show, together with the product and engineering team. So every time the FinTech launches a product, if you’re talking about lending, if you’re talking about estate pay out, or buy now pay later, any of those products, you have to have a source of findings in those products, in the background. The finance business partner will come in and really help the product to develop and that’s something that I have passion for.”

“Something that most of the CFOS will need to invest in is how do you put inside of the accounting team, finance squads and finance tribes to help you to give this step forward into the technology of the team as a whole.”

“I think we need to realize and be patient. Every time you implement a new technology or you work with a new squad, there is the moment the team gets used to that you’re able to explain what needs to be done. The product starts to work and then really you’re able to take advantage and take the step up. It takes a little bit of time. So you need to be patient.”

“When we put a squad to be working inside of finance, they need to have a tech lead. They need to have somebody because a finance person should be giving guidance, purely guidance and leave the technical part to an engineer. That’s not something that energizes them. So for sure, create a structure where the squad inside of finance there’s a tech lead, somebody that will be able to be their mentor and follow this person closely.”

“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’ve been to the office at least two or three times a week. So now as a  rule, not a fixed rule because some of it is very nimble when, and I think we definitely cater to our employees, we’re usually once to twice a week in the office and when we are launching something, a product, and then we will come probably every day because we need to be reading the contract, talking to the banks and talking to the engineering team.”

“Sometimes the market makes over emotional decisions sometimes. But at the end of the day, the company should look within to see if what they have as products is something that’s durable, something that will bring value to the company, not just for show but has a sense to it that this is a good product and you can back it up by engineers and by the process. I think these are the type of companies that will make it.”

“Come out as more of an outspoken, especially towards women in leadership. It makes a difference when you see a woman occupying, especially a finance role, where they are having a leadership position to inspire others, and you literally can see even when you’re in a room, if there are other women, see another woman, they will speak more, they will, they feel more empowered. So to me, I think for sure study. But if you’re a woman besides studying, you have almost the obligation of spying on other women to grow.”

“Essentially a joke which I give to my boss every day is, every time when you’re in a meeting and you see only men around you, you should stop the meeting and say at least one person, at least one woman needs to be here. Because if there’s only men in that table, something is wrong. You can have only one point of view. You are not getting a diverse point of view. You’re not enriching the opinion there. You’re not getting the other backgrounds.”

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Timestamp Topics:

01:30 Path to CFO and Love for Finance

06:24 Perception of Finance’s Role

08:18 Rethinking Future Finance Principles and Roles 

11:30 Solving Finance Problems

15:30 Trials, Tribulations, and Tools of Technology Implementation

19:30 Remote Working and Team Collaboration 

23:30 Finance Functions in Different Countries

26:13 Finance Team Setup

29:10 Future Finance Challenges and Initiatives

35:30 Advice for Being a Successful and Effective CFO

39:00 Promoting Opportunities for Women and Creating Diverse Teams

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Links 

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Connect with Mariana on LinkedIn

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Mariana’s Playbook: Tackling Technology Trends and the Importance of Innovation

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 Involved in Innovation

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.”

Expand Engineering’s Access

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.” 

Be Nimble and Nurture your Team

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.”

Dedicated to Diversity

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.”