Employee Engagement: The Root Of A Purpose-Driven Finance Organization

Peter David

Part of the “Purpose-Driven CFO” series

A sense of purpose can take various forms in CFO leadership. Throughout this series of blogs, my colleagues have touched on environmental responsibility, the betterment of society, and business ethics as a few of the powerful themes that give meaning to their work. While delivering on these commitments plays a significant role in our decisions, spending, and investments, we couldn’t do it without the engagement and innovative thinking of every member of our finance teams.

Channeling individual energy into a unifying purpose

Responsibility for financial stewardship remains paramount, but our finance professionals are also charged with positively influencing the direction of the business. Of course, accelerating the pace of closing books, generating accurate reports, controlling costs, and forecasting financials are still core objectives of our finance operations. However, a guiding principle is to make a broader impact beyond the business and support the impassioned desire of our team members to contribute to positive business outcomes while enabling the company to engage in social change and help the world run better.

But how do you channel the diverse passions of your team into a unifying purpose for the entire organization? As we experienced during a recent workshop, finding and fostering a broader purpose can become an excellent motivator for employee engagement when done effectively. Yet a high-performing finance team still needs leadership, team spirit, experience, skills, and tools to become a force for good.

Considering the body of regulations, policies, and strategies that finance teams must follow, managerial guidance is vital to ensure that the right decisions are made in the best interests of the business. But equally important is giving employees the freedom to handle the daily business of finance in ways that directly impact their community and keep them energized. 

Using technology to enable higher-value contributions

To tap into the innovative energy of our team members, our finance leadership team is consistently focused on our extended transformation programs. This effort is helping our teams build their skills, acquire new insights, and expand their expertise to turn finance into a business partner running on predictive analytics and future-shaping business knowledge. In other words, we are evolving into an intelligent finance organization.

Machine learning, for example, is becoming a critical factor in speeding up this evolution. By automating repeatable tasks and augmenting decision-making with autogenerated recommendations, we are processing order forms, contracts, information updates, and other documents in a more connected, streamlined, and expeditious manner. This approach frees up my finance colleagues to focus on more meaningful tasks, bringing the expertise necessary to ensure our success.

Realizing the full power of finance as a force for improving lives

Now our finance teams are not only driving forward-looking decisions that move the needle on improving business performance. They are also visibly impacting their regions and communities.

Whether we are contributing to the economic empowerment of citizens in Rwanda, improving cancer research in India, or supporting science education in underserved areas, finance is the core engine of all of our sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. More importantly, we are ensuring that we can continue to give back to society by securing profitable business success that is consistent and sustainable.

For SAP, this approach to corporate social responsibility has become a proven path to effectuating change throughout the world. By allowing each regional organization to concentrate on what matters to its employees, all of finance is working together to achieve our company’s overall global vision.

Why have AI, machine learning, predictive insights, and digital assistants become the must-have new tools of forward-thinking CFOs to drive business performance? Watch the Nov. 6 webcast.

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Peter David

About Peter David

Peter David has been regional chief financial officer of Europe Middle East and Africa at SAP since December 2014 and served as its chief financial officer of Latin America and The Caribbean from September 2012 to July 2013. Mr. David established a strategic direction and oversees its financial and operational activities region-wide. He joined SAP in 1995 and served as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer in the past.