Gina McNamara, CFO SAP ANZ on the Essential Role of the STRATEGIC CFO

8 Jul 20

Read an article published in The Australian on July 4 2020, quoting Gina McNamara the CFO of SAP ANZ. Gina shares her thoughts on why the CFOs of organisations need to take on a more strategic role.

SAP leader says that strategic CFOs are essential

By Helen Trinca. Published in The Australian on 4 July 2020

The tech has been around for a long time now but the pandemic has accelerated the take-up by big companies, says Gina McNamara, the CFO of software giant SAP Australia and New Zealand.

“We’re seeing customers make decisions about and implement technology in weeks, that previously took months,” she says. “It’s likely we’ll see a longer-term impact on expectations of delivery times and faster innovation in the future. One major retail customer redesigned entire aspects of its delivery  service over one weekend … normally the process would take weeks or months.”

McNamara agrees it’s one of the biggest transformative changes she has seen in the sector: “The appetite of companies for change was much slower pre-COVID. It has definitely been a big trigger.”
McNamara tells of a CFO in one company who had to run out and purchase laptops for staff members so they could work remotely, an indication of the company’s tardiness in scaling up its tech capability.

SAP reports some interesting deals as the shutdown began. “We helped Blackwoods, the industrial arm of Wesfarmers, set up a commerce site for their customer in record time, entirely remotely,” says McNamara. “We helped a bank in Australia source PPE for staff through our SP Ariba network in less  than 24 hours. This process of onboarding onto the platform can usually take days or weeks.

“We helped Sigma Healthcare — a pharmaceutical wholesaler that also has Australia’s largest pharmacy retail footprint with brands including Amcal, Discount Drug Stores and Chemist King — upgrade its systems to enable it to handle a more than doubling of demand during the lockdown.  Again, this was achieved in a matter of days, as opposed to weeks.

“I think people will realise now that they can’t wait for another pandemic to really digitally transform their business.” McMamara says that the crisis expanded her role as she took on more responsibility for managing business continuity as well as well being and mental health of staff. She cites it as an example of how a CFO these days is much more than managing costs. Says McNamara: “I think every biz needs a strategic CFO and if they don’t have one that they’re
missing a trick.”

All 1600 SAP staff in Australia and New Zealand have been working remotely and McNamara says that while she has always worked one day, the full-time gig with a three-year-old home from daycare required some adjustment. But the gains in family time and the reduction in travel were great.

Post-pandemic she plans to travel less, continue to do some work at home and hopefully keep up some of her new practices — such as eating dinner with the family every night.