Have you ever wonder what other CFOs have done and plan to do during the pandemic to alleviate some of the impacts and ensure the smooth operation of their teams and organisations?
Angeline Chua, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer, IBM ASEAN shared with FutureCFO what she did and how her learning during this period would change the way her finance team works.
FutureCFO: Is there anything that you've done when the pandemic first hit that you considered a successful response to abrupt changes?
Angelina Chua (AC): There are quite a few actions that I have taken when the pandemic first hit.
Employees. Ensuring the safety of our employees are of first utmost priority.
We have built a crisis management team to ensure that IBMers' health and safety in our workplace, which include workplaces at our customer locations.
IBM in Singapore has been highly commended by the country's government authorities for going above and beyond the requirements instituted by the various ministries. We are proud of the fact that our processes and measures have been shared globally within IBM as best practices.
Processes and tools. We did a stress test on our existing processes, exploring digital where possible. One example is the move to entirely electronic signatures across our countries.
Another example will be around conducting our client demos via digital channels. For our existing finance and operations, we’ve already used a lot of cloud-based applications, so we are not affected by the requirements to work from home.
Business pipelines. We started to anticipate the business offerings that will resonate in this unprecedented times, came up with a few within two weeks and push them out in the markets.
Risk Management. We’ve done scenario planning and stress tests to anticipate the impact on financials models, translating risks into recommendations to business actions.
FutureCFO: How’s the finance team working together now? What have you learnt from it ? How will that learning change the way that the finance team will work together in the future?
AC: We are working as closely as before. In fact since October 2020, we have transformed the finance organisation.
We have a blueprint for transforming organisations to an agile way of working in order to deliver business value faster. This actually work perfectly for us in the new pandemic as we could take the agile practices into very good use.
On Oct 17, 2020, I will join a panel discussion on finance & accounting at the IMA Virtual AsiaPac Conference. We will discuss how COVID-19, geopolitical tension, and other hot button issues are impacting business operations and the role of accounting and finance professionals, and strategies and best practices for identifying new risks and opportunities as well as building value in uncertain times. This virtual event is free for everyone to attend.
FutureCFO: Have you changed the way finance does forecasting after the pandemic has hit? What are the changes? How have those changes helped you to be more effective and productive in terms of forecasting?
AC: We have two set of forecasting methods. One is traditional and the other using predictive models.
In terms of changes, on the predictive models, we have to make changes on some of the assumptions taking into considerations the market and economic factors.
These models have been effective for us to financial plan and take actions to address the business. The models have been rather accurate and we have using these for years.