Mustally Hussain, Vice President and Treasurer at Herc Rentals, offered insights into what it takes to foster growth and innovation across a finance team during his keynote presentation at the 2017 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in New York on November 14. In his presentation, "Leading High-Performance Finance Teams," Hussain provided tips to help CFOs work with finance team members to achieve the best possible results.
At Herc Rentals, the organization wanted to streamline its day-to-day operations. To accomplish this goal, the organization's finance team needed to implement the optimal training, technology, and processes.
"We wanted to create the right department," Hussain said. "We needed specialized training…and the right processes for each level of the organization."
Herc Rentals uses a three-tier approach to enhance its finance department, focusing on the following areas:
How a finance team is structured can have long-lasting ramifications on an organization.
A well-organized finance team likely has a structure in place to ensure each team member can contribute to an organization's success. This team will be able to perform deep analysis of financial decisions and help an organization make the best-possible choices.
"You can't build an adaptable organization without adaptable people."
Also, a well-organized finance team will have a governance structure in place. This structure will enable team members to receive support at each stage of the decision-making process, leading to superior results.
"If you have the right department structure, that really helps you," Hussain said. "A fit-for-purpose organization with a clear governance mechanism really enables you to make very clear decisions across the organization."
An effective finance team must employ talented professionals; otherwise, this team may struggle to maximize its productivity and efficiency.
Today's finance teams require talented professionals who possess comprehensive training. Furthermore, if a finance team offers extensive training, it may be better equipped than others to attract and retain top talent.
"If you have experienced professionals who have the ability to think at the macro level and have really good specialized training, that really helps in running the organization," Hussain stated.
A finance team must employ professionals who can adapt to a rapidly changing global marketplace and ensure their finance teams enable an organization stay ahead of the competition.
"You can't build an adaptable organization without adaptable people," Hussain said.
3. Technology and Process
The technologies and processes deployed by a finance team are paramount. If a finance team understands the benefits of state-of-the-art technologies and processes, it can find the right solutions to resolve day-to-day problems.
"Technology and process go hand-in-hand," Hussain noted. "Together, with structure and people, an organization can use technologies and processes to achieve the optimal results."
Although finance teams may consider the aforementioned factors to drive growth and innovation, it is important for these teams to remain flexible as well.
"A fit-for-purpose organization with a clear governance mechanism really enables you to make very clear decisions across the organization."
The solutions deployed by one finance team may not work for a finance team in a different industry. Fortunately, finance teams that remain open to new ideas can explore a wide range of solutions to everyday problems while boosting the likelihood of immediate and long-term success.
"There is no one-size-fits all [for finance] … but you must design your organization based on your business model," Hussain recommended. "Also, you must design it in a way that this organization is in place for the long term."
A finance team should be ready to take action. This team must consider all of the options at its disposal, assess data and use a consistent decision-making process. With this approach in place, a finance team can avoid becoming stagnant.
"Not remaining static helped us in terms of getting to a much more desirable state," Hussain noted.
Moreover, a valuation framework can make a world of difference for a finance team.
If a finance team understands how it delivers value to an organization and its clients, it can determine the best steps to help both parties. Plus, this team may be able to discover innovative ways to bolster the value it provides to key stakeholders.
"As you think about your building blocks, you need to think about your valuation framework," Hussain stated. "You need to think about how you are valued within your organization and within your own department."
A finance team likely includes a variety of professionals, but getting finance team members to collaborate sometimes can be difficult.
Silos can be problematic for finances teams of all sizes. But if a finance team builds a culture based on camaraderie and collaboration, it may be able to deliver meaningful results to an organization and its clients.
Lastly, reporting and predictive analytics may prove to be exceedingly valuable to finance teams. By deploying reporting and predictive analytics, these teams can gain the insights they need to make informed decisions both now and in the future.
Mustally Hussain is the Vice President and Corporate Treasurer of Herc Holdings Inc. In his current position, he is responsible for cash operations, capital markets, risk management, corporate finance and overall financial strategy. Prior to Herc, Mr. Hussain spent several years in finance leadership roles at Hyundai Capital America and National Grid. He started his career in New York, spending several years as a trusted management consultant, investment banker and deal advisor.
He has won industry awards from Association of Financial Professionals, Adam Smith and Treasury Management International on excellence in treasury and finance. Mustally is a well-known thought leader at industry conferences and serves on the CFO Advisory Council of Innovation Enterprise. He holds an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School of Management.