One of the ways the role of a CFO has changed today is thanks to management of data available that can be used in benefit of the company.
Because of the large amounts of data they handle, CFOs can serve as a consultant across a company on ways to best use that data to maximize profits and boost efficiency, says Finance & Administration Director for Aeropuertos del Perú (AdP) Luis Gálvez.
AdP is a public-private enterprise that operates 12 airports across Peru. In this interview, Gálvez shares what the company is doing in terms of innovation in the financial department, cybersecurity, challenges for Latin American CFOs, and more.
Q: What is AdP doing in terms of financial innovation?
A: Currently we are implementing innovation strategies in our financial, logistics, and IT areas.
Two examples that have helped us cut costs are changing our lighting systems to LED technology, as well as using solar energy in some of our operations.
In financial terms, we created our own instrument that we were able to invest at a very good rate and was very well received by the Peruvian market.
We are also focusing on green investments. This has both a positive impact on how one’s brand is perceived and cuts costs, since we are using more solar power in our airports. The payback period for these investments is usually two or three years.
Q: How is AdP implementing cybersecurity measures?
A: The first thing to keep in mind is that any company is vulnerable. So our job, together with the IT area, is to make our system very difficult to breach. For example, we increased the frequency of our backups. In the event of an attack, this means one can recover one’s data much quicker and get back to normal operations.
We are also exploring improving our coverage with better insurance policies.
Q: What are the biggest changes in the role of the CFO over the last five to 10 years?
A: The CFO is increasingly playing more of an advisory role and contributes more to business decisions in the company. For example, a CFO can be more involved with the commercial department to give advice on where the opportunities are, because the CFO has a vast amount of data and deep knowledge of the company.
Today, CFOs are also far more connected to technology, and seek to exploit new technologies to improve profitability. So CFOs are now more proactive, and have more tools when looking for gaps that might be covered with new technology, as well as improving the cost-efficiency relation.
This means CFOs now have a far more strategic role, giving financial advice that will generate more business opportunities, with increasing support from technology tools. Since we are the first to see the enormous amounts of data, we can use it not only for the company's financial area, but to provide insights to other areas of the company, such as commercial, that lead to making better decisions and profitability.
Q: What are the main challenges for a CFO in Latin America?
A: The most important thing is to understand that since the CFO role is now more proactive, it is crucial to understand where the company is headed and the current environment to help make strategic decisions that will improve profitability. In a way, you become a business partner of the top management team.
This interview was conducted by Latin Trade for Council of the Americas.