A CFO's Guide to People and Performance Optimization | Chris Ortega

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This is a podcast episode titled, A CFO's Guide to People and Performance Optimization | Chris Ortega. The summary for this episode is: <p>Balancing people and performance strategies is becoming more critical as the pressure builds on finance to work faster and think more strategically. It’s up to CFOs and FP&amp;A leaders to adapt their people and performance strategies to meet these demands while considering talent retention, career development, and overall company performance. Hear Chris Ortega, Chief Executive Officer at Fresh FP&amp;A, a finance and accounting consulting firm, dig into the role finance plays in bridging these gaps, including people and performance 30, 60, and 90 strategies, applying people scorecards, and understanding the balance between people and efficiency.&nbsp;</p>
Focusing on the people - the new normal for Finance
01:13 MIN
Let's talk about the process - Become lean, proactive and people focused
01:03 MIN
An empowerment vs directive approach
01:10 MIN
Top 3 agile tactics for your business
01:24 MIN

Cody: I want to introduce Chris, who's going to come up and talk to you for a little while here, and then we'll have some time at the end for questions where I'll be running around a mic to ya. But Chris, go ahead. Take it away.

Chris Ortega: Thank you, Cody. Good afternoon, everybody. How's Planful going so far for everybody? Man, projections this morning looking at the product was like... I was talking to Justin and some of the product people afterwards. I was like," You guys don't understand how much this is a game- changer." I've been talking about AB testing and budgeting forecasting forever, and finally getting to be able to see it. So I hope you're all enjoying the session. Today, I'm going to be giving you guys the CFO's Guide to People and Process Optimization. I'm not going to stand behind this thing. This is like a jail box, so I'm going to be moving around a little bit. Hopefully, the camera guy doesn't get too mad at me. So, tell you a little bit about myself. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Where are my Hoosier fans at? Where are the Hoosiers? Nobody? No Hoosier fans in here? I usually get at least one Hoosier fan. But went to college, I was a marketing major because I loved the creativity of marketing. And then, who knows what happened in 2002? Right? Enron happened, right? And Sarbanes- Oxley happened, and it was like Oprah at the Kelly School of Business. It was like," You get a job, and you get a job, and you get a job." And I was like," Man, that's the whole purpose of being in college is to get a job. Right?" My mom couldn't afford for us to go to college, and I went on this academic kind of first generation thing. And she was like," Bunny, you got to get a job." And I was like," Okay. I'll just hop on this accounting and finance road." And I've been on it ever since. So funny story about that, the top left picture, I used to fight as an amateur boxer competitively for four years. Another funny story about that, I was in the semifinals of the Golden Gloves. Anybody know what the Golden Gloves is? Boom. Nice, nice. So the Golden Gloves is the largest amateur boxing tournament in the US. Right? I'm fighting in it. I have all my friends, my family. I'm in the semi- finals, so if I win this one, I go to the finals. And the finals that year was in Vegas, and I'm like," Man, it'd be awesome to go to Vegas, represent Indiana and go fight." So I come out, first five seconds of the fight, I throw a lazy jab out there. And the guy slips under it, and I'm like," Oh no, this is going to be bad." So when you throw a lazy jab, your whole liver is exposed right here. That's your liver right here. And I seen him slip under, body shot to the liver. If you ever get a body shot in the liver, it is like your body is installing updates. Your body is installing updates. It's like," Do, do, do, do, do." You hear that going there? And first five seconds of the fight, didn't up winning the fight, but that taught me a valuable lesson. There'll never be anything in accounting, finance, FP& A or CFO that I'll ever face than taking a body shot to the liver and not pooping myself in front of everybody. I was like," That's a win. That's a win." And I went through that just so I can tell you guys that. Everybody's like," Chris, we don't really care about that. Who's this little love nugget on the right, right here?" That is my son, Ernie, Bernie, the attorney, Lord Ernie, Lord Ernest when he is feeling. He's a Chiweenie, so he's a Chihuahua, Dachshund mix. And I grew up poor. I grew up with my mom and my sister, a single parent background, and we never had pets. And I was one of those people that... I was like," Why do people, as soon as they start talking, they give you their phone, they're like,'Look at my little nugget. Look at him.'" And I'm like," That is so weird." Now, if you guys want to see Ernie, I have a whole catalog of pictures. He wears his little bow ties. I dress him up on holidays. Usually when I get done working out from the gym, I'm his little personal lollipop, and he just does what he wants. But yeah, that's a little bit about me. And also professionally, I've been in the accounting, finance, FP& A, fractional CFO space for a little over 17 years. And I know some of you are like," Dude, you've got way more to go." I know Steve Players in the back, and he's like," Chris, you're still young in the game, man. You're still wet behind the years." Right? But most of my professional background has been in high growth, entrepreneurial startup, scale up, sale, exit SaaS businesses. So professionally, I've been doing that, I started off my career in public accounting, E& Y. I will show you guys my E& Y badge in here. Do we have any former E& Yers in here? Any? No? Yes. One person. Yes. So, started off in public accounting, and then did my first couple years in accounting, really loved that experience. And I said," You know what? I really love the strategic side." And also, when I was in public accounting, if you guys can't imagine, I was definitely an anomaly. I was definitely the person that asks all the questions, and when they come to me and say," Hey." I'll look at it. I go to an audit client. Right? Mind you, this company has grown 55% year- over- year. Their team has expanded. They went internationally. And I'm sitting with the audit manager, and I'm like," Hey. We've got to prepare for this audit. I know we're going to be out there for like two or three months." And he's like," Chris, just chill out. Just roll forward the procedures we did last year. Just do the same as we did last year." I was like," No." He was like," What do you mean no?" I'm like," This is a completely different business. They grew 50%. They're expanding internationally. They grew their accounting and finance, FP& A team. What are you talking about, do the same thing as last year?" So I realized through that, I'm like," Man, I'm more focused on the people side, more focused on the strategy." And then that's when I jumped into accounting, finance, and FP& A. Okay. So here's where we're going to talk about today. We're going to identify some new normals. Right? I think it's really... So, one of the most important things, and I've presented at the World Finance Forum in Miami a couple weeks ago. And I asked the people in the room," What do you think is the number one thing that keeps a CFO up at night?" And some of them were like," Man, the inflation, the risks, all these different things." I said," The most important thing that should keep you up right now is your people." And they looked at me and they were like," What? What are you talking about? Why? Why should that keep me up at night?" I'm like," That's keeping everybody up at night. The CFO, the office of the CFO is not sheltered away from that." So I'm going to talk about some processes and strategies that you can implement. The second point I'm going to talk about is just some emerging things that you guys need to be aware of. These are the top three things that you should be taking away and say," Hey, to our VP of finance, to our CFO, to our board of directors, to our CEO, these are the things you need to think about." And then the third one is giving you a simple framework of how to future- proof your accounting, finance, F& A team. All right. So let's get started. And this one, I start with the people aspect of it. I was doing a podcast with SAP a couple weeks ago, and I was on this panel, and the panel was this SAP's guy. He's got like 40 years. This other dude's got like another 25. And the host of the show was super charismatic. She was a vibe. As soon as I talked with her and we were doing the prep, I'm like," Bonnie, we're going to make magic here." She's like,"What kind of magic, Chris?" And I was like," Not that kind of magic, Bonnie. We're not going to do that kind of magic. Geez, Bonnie. Geez. No, we're not going to do that. We're going to make some real magic." And I said," I want to kick off my part of this session talking about people." Right? The first one is how many, by a show of hands, when you went remote, right, because everybody went remote, I assume. When you went remote, you were not caring about how people worked, you were results- driven, meaning that you didn't care about where people work, how they work, as long as they delivered on their commitments and delivered high quality results. That's the only thing that mattered. So when people made that shift, by a show of hands, how many people, that was the focus, right? Cool. So, I worked at an international marketing platform company at The World. It was about$ 120 million of ARR. For those not SaaS in the space, ARR is annual recurring revenue. Think of that as revenue. We were all across the globe, 28 countries, 850 employees. And we were structured in regions, so we had our Americas, which was Canada, North America, South America. We had our EMEA, which was Europe, Middle East, and Austria. And then we had our APAC location. Now when that happened, when the world took a time out, right, and nobody knew where it was, and my Door Dash account was booming because that's all I was ordering. It was a major thing for our main operations to go to this results, like," What do you mean?" They were so used to the leaders being there, being directive. They were so used saying," I can't see what that person's doing. I'm not over in my office seeing my staff come in from nine to five, and leave after I leave. How's that going to work?" And APAC was similar. The leadership styles were so different, and that was such a major thing for them. But in Americas, we were like,"What? What are you talking about?" My team, I was like," Hey guys, be safe." This is when happy hours... Remember that phase of Zoom where everybody wanted to be on Zoom? And now we're at that phase where it's like," If I get another freaking Zoom meeting right now that's more than 30 minutes, no. Send it to me in email." Nobody ever used to say that. I was like," No, let's meet." He's like," No. Summarize this in an email. Let's do it async." Which is a new thing. But that results- driven culture was so part of what we established, and it was so easy for us to make that transition. Because at the end of the day, I told my team, I said," Look. You are wearing a lot of different hats. I'm wearing a lot of different hats. Ernie's being cranky. Ernie wants to go out all the time now because I'm home all the time. The only thing that matters, guys, deliver your high quality work, be a great business partner, and continue to drive high results." That's all that mattered. And I remember during the peak of the pandemic, one of the most transformative things that our CEO, Ohad Hecht, and if that's on the show, Ohad, and you look at it, I'm giving you a shout out, Ohad, because you've changed the way I think about people. When that situation happened, right, we were... So, our ICP, our ideal customer profile, the target customer we go after, was retail and e- commerce. You tell me an industry that wasn't like," Oh my God." Retail and e- commerce got smoked. Well, not e- commerce, because everybody started buying everything online. But we had a lot of customers that did make that transition. They still had a lot of, 80% of their revenue was coming from bricks and mortars, shopping malls and people shopping and stuff. And I remember our CEO on the first call that we all had, everybody is sitting there, all the finance leaders, sales is sitting there. Everybody's like," Man, what is this going to be?" And Ohad said," Look. The most important thing right now, the two things that we need to focus on in every decision we make, we need to take care of our customers and we need to take care of our people." And that's exactly what we did. We focused on taking care of those customers and the people. One of the things that we did to take care of our customers, right, is we're looking at it, and I'm in Excel at this time. I didn't have Planful at the time. I wish I did. That was a whole nother hurdle to get our CFO to get over. He was one of those lagger adopters. Here's a golden nugget. If you're dealing with a lagging, adopting CFO, get them to be more early adopters of platforms, tools, and technology. It's more scalable. So if something like that happens, you're not using a 25- tab Excel document to keep track of all your customers, all your KPIs. That was a nightmare. And I remember building this model in Excel, and I remember building it in there and I was like," This is what we have to work with." And I'm like, Idimar was his name," Idimar, I'm not throwing shade." We've talked about this in Vienna, so you already know. And I said," Look man, how are we...?" And he's like," Chris, everybody is just taking your Excel file. And I'm having all the other regions do that." I'm like," See, if we had a platform, we would have been way better to be greater partners. We would have had solutions. We could have used dynamic planning. We could have had structure planning our way. Oh yeah, we want to use Excel." We had Spotlight Excel. And he is like," Ah, Chris, can't think about that now. We need to be thinking about this file." Right? And that aspect of it to me was, this is the difference of high performance and partnership. And I'll tell you, when I was at that company, which ultimately ended up getting acquired by SAP, first time leading an entire due diligence process. Here's another gold nugget for all those career people out here. If you ever get the opportunity to lead through an acquisition, do it. It's going to be tough. SAP was probably a six- month due diligent process. And that process was going through everything, every single insurance document, every single policy document, every single HR document, all the revisions to the HR document, emails, conversations, contracts, everything, for about the first four months. And I look at that and say," Man, this is a great opportunity to really learn." So that is another golden nugget for everybody. If you are ever on the path of getting acquisition or that experience, that's one of those Mount Everest stations you need to get. Right? Super, super important experience to get. But going through that process, we realized," Man, we've got some gaps here on the people side. We definitely have some gaps here." The accountability inside of the organization was not consistent. Right? My accountability for my team was," Hey, deliver what you need to do." That matters to people now. Right? You've got to hold people accountable. And I expect in my team, as a leader, to hold me accountable to what I would say I was going to do, that I delivered on it. Too many times, we give people the out and say," Hey, this was happening." And I'm like," Look. I'm all about that. But communicate with me. If you have to renegotiate a timeline, just say,'Hey, Ortega, I'm not going to be able to get that to you on Thursday. Can we push it back to Friday?''Cool. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know.'" Right? That accountability is important. This one I want to talk about the most, upskilling. So, there was a session, and I remember going through the pandemic, and even outside of it now, and even as I'm running my own consulting company, Fresh FP& A, is the opportunity with your people to upskill. And that's upskilling non- traditional accounting, finance, FP& A stuff. Right? One of the most important skill sets that accounting, finance, FP& A of the future need to have is the art of storytelling. How many stories have I told y'all? We're on a journey right now. Right? You're like," Man, I don't know. This is chapter six in it." The art of storytelling is one of the most important upskills you need to be focused on today. After you leave this session, go schedule that meeting with that sales, that marketing, that operations, that HR person, and say," I need to get better at my storytelling." But that provided an opportunity to upskill. I had my team, I had a controller that she spent the last eight years in her career at Simon Property Group. I'm not throwing shade at Simon Property Group, but I'm kind of throwing shade. One of those people that are in those roles... And maybe you're in that role. Right? Maybe some of you are in that role where you're just like," Man, I have so much more potential. I have so much more opportunity. I have so much more that I could be giving, but my manager's like,'Nope. Chris, do the same as last year. Go audit accounts receivables.'" Right? Give them that opportunity to upskill, man. And it can be a project. It can be anything. The best way that you want to do this is for all the leaders in there, if you want to provide that opportunity to your staff to go upskill, ask them just one simple question. It's so easy. It's the easiest question you're going to get all time." What can we be doing better?" Boom. They're going to love that. They're going to be like," I've been waiting for you, leader, to ask me that. I've been waiting for you, VP of Finance. I've been waiting for you to ask me that. I've got all these ideas." But just be ready, because they're going to dump it all on you and say," You know what? Let's prioritize some of that. Maybe this thing is important. I heard this session with Chris Ortega, and he talked about collaboration. He talked about some of these things. How can we get on a path of doing that?" You're going to light that fire in that person. Right? It could be adopting Planful. It could be using projections. It could be using dynamic planning. It could be... Whatever those aspects of it are, provide those opportunities to upskill. The last one is empowerment versus, and I'm going to talk about this a little bit deeper, think of a directive- driven culture as the person leading, and they're just like," Hey, we've got to get month- end close done by day three." And you're like," Okay. Well, if you came in and helped us." He's like,"Nope. No, no. Nope, nope, nope. That's you guys. I don't do that." Empowerment is like," Hey guys, what can I do to help us get close done by day three?" And when I was at that marketing company, it was so different how you had seen the America's teams, and just the sales and marketing and finance were so used to empowerment. And you are seeing our European and AsiaPac operations that are so used to the directive. There were literally people waking up, saying," What am I supposed to do today?" It's like," What are you talking about? You're supposed to do what you're supposed to do." He's like," No. I'm so used to coming in and telling me,'Here's the four things we need to be focused on today.'" I'm like," Well, you don't have that now." And when I'm moving into a more global role of managing the entire finance operations of the business before SAP, that was a really... People were scared about that. They were like," Hold on Chris." I'm like," Hey, Lisa. You are managing global invoicing, right? You've been doing that for three or four years. How can I help support you? Any roadblocks you're having? Any issues, any concerns that you're having?"" Nah, Chris, everything is good."" Okay, well, continue."" Well, Chris, what do you want me to do?" I'm like," Continue to do what you were a great at. Continue to go do that. You don't have to set up meetings every week when you've been... Be great. If you have issues, concerns, frustrations, you've got some roadblocks, you've got some heads I need to knock around, let me know. I'll go to knock some heads." Which are typically in the sales group. We all know it. Come on. Right? Right? Yeah. I see you. Right? Sales are always at hard to deal with. Here's another gold nugget. To deal with sales people, right, get them to talk about themselves. Get them to tell them how awesome they are. It's like," Wow, man. You're at 85% of your quota." Kill them with kindness, and then at the end be like," Yeah. So you're going to get that to me. Right?"" Oh, yeah, Chris. I'll get it. I'll get it, get it." That's how you win over sales people. So we talked about the people, let's talk about the process side. I think to me, it's even on my shirt. As I've gone throughout my career, I think business and financial transformation... I've been public speaking for almost eight, nine years. I know, Steve, it's not as much as you've been doing it, but I'm still way behind the game. But I remember coming to all these conferences, and it was always a theme. Who remembers coming to conferences, and big data was the most important thing? You had all these sessions, big data, big data this, big data that. Nobody knew what the hell it was. Still now, who knows what big data is? Yeah, exactly. Right? It was always these themes coming to a conference. And financial transformation, I think if you ask anybody, everybody in this room probably has a different definition of what financial transformation means to your organization. To me, in the countless SaaS businesses I've been a part of, I had a couple of them that have gone to X. I had a SaaS business I was a part of that was well ahead of its time, about$ 180 million of equity pulled into it. That went bankrupt. That was an interesting rod to be on. But one thing that I've seen, what financial transformation, I call them the six key pillars. Here's another golden takeaway. Get your notebooks out. Financial transformation is built on six pillars: people, process, partnership. That's your tier ones. Right? Think about those three, that's the foundation of the house. If you don't have great people, if you don't have great processes, if you haven't built great partnerships, you're trying to build a house on cement that's still dry, uneven. Yeah, the house will look cool, but over time, it's going to not be stable. The second tiers of financial transformation are platform, performance, and profit optimization. Of those six, where I see a lot of people struggle, they go after the shiny new platform. Right? They look at that Lamborghini in the showroom. Right? They see that solution. It's like," Oh my God, this is going to solve everything." You get that awesome solution, but you don't have the people. You still have your people in these low- value, manual, routine, shoot me in the face, I got to log over into my Excel, leave it running for like 35 minutes, and then come back. Or they haven't developed the partnerships. If you're going to start, start with those tier three, which is process. Right? My process understanding, I remember being at Ernest& Young, and we'd used to do control testing. Right? We used to do internal controls and walkthroughs. So one of the biggest clients I got to work on and audit was Eli Lilly. They're a pharmaceutical drug development company. I'm surprised they didn't even get into the whole COVID way, because I'm like," Eli Lilly, you missed a whole opportunity with that." But I was doing Sarbanes- Oxley's internal control testing with them, and looking at the processes, the processes are the skeletal framework of any successful business. And I'm going through their processes, and I'm like," Wow, this is crazy how they make..." I felt like I was Oz behind the curtain, and looking at it, I'm like," Man, this is awesome that I'm able to see this." And that love for process optimization, to me, is, and I'm going to talk about all of these. Right? I think the number one thing is, you've got to be thinking about your processes from a scalability perspective. Right? We don't have the luxury as accounting, finance, FP&A, that when sales are going up and leads are... Everything is gang busters, the CEO and the board's coming up, and are like," Hey, go get more finance people." No. They're like," Go get more sales people. Pour more ammunition on that. Let's get triple digit year- over- year growth." Right? We don't have that luxury to be able to do that. So always, when you're thinking about your processes, you've got to always be thinking about scalability. And scalability is the question I was like," Okay. How do I make sure that if I was not part of this process or somebody came out of it, that the process continued? How do we make sure we keep that knowledge? How do we leverage technology as much as possible?" Here's another framework for you to use. I call it the Decision Cycle. The Decision Cycle is something I learned from Ernest& Young, and ultimately, how business decisions are made. Processes drop data. Data is then turned into information. Information is then shared to ultimately make a business decision. Process, data, information, knowledge, decision. Right? Where do you want your people focused at? You don't want your people having the process of manually going in Excel, extracting this Excel, looking up here to turn that data into information. Have technology get you to knowledge. Then you sprinkle in your people. Now you've got them focused on a high- value activity. You don't have them focused in the Excels and all these other different things, right, these low- value activities. Right? You've got them focused on knowledge creation. How am I collaborating? How am I communicating? How am I connecting? And how am I building a community around the accounting/ finance organization? How are you bringing all that together? That is what scalability is built on. And that's the thing you need to be thinking about. Right? There was a session before with Tech Cloud Pro. Trying to say that fast is hard. Tech Cloud Pro. And they talked about RPA. It's another buzzword, nobody really knows what the hell it is. But RPA could be robotic process automation, it could be robust process automation. But basically, what it's talking about is putting your people at the right part of that process, not in the low- value activity part of the process, using tools and technologies like AI machine learning to automate, to get... And it's not making a decision for you. It's doing all the low- value work that you don't want your high- performing people to work on. Right? That's not impactful work to people. Right? And with the Great Resignation going on, I should have probably talked about this on the people side. With the Great Resignation going on, that aspect of it is like," Man, people are like,'Hey, the grass may not be greener on the other side.'" The grass, boom. That's an awesome one to hit. Empowerment and directive- driven, we talked a little bit about this. Won't beat this one to death, but this was really from a culture perspective, really transformative for us, allowing our European colleagues, allowing our APAC colleagues to say," Hey, you've got room. If you're taking care of the customers and you're taking care of our people, the CEO said that. Let's focus on those two north stars and let's go execute on those." This is really important, so the shift between static... How many people here are still... You're comfortable now doing a 12- month forecast and having any kind of comfort and confidence in it? Are we at that stage yet? No way. Right? I'm comfortable the next three months. Right? If somebody asked me," Chris, what's your...?" And I always tell them," For a precise forecast? Are you looking for an accurate forecast?" And they're like,"Chris, what do you mean?" I'm like," Well, accuracy is like 50- 75%, it's going to be directionally right. Accuracy is like 95%." He's like," Well, we want to precise forecast for the next six months." I'm like,"Not going to happen."" Well, what do you mean that's not going to happen?"" Do you understand the variables that are going on right now? No. The best precision I can have is in the next 90 days. And helping the business understand that." Right? So I highlight that as an example, because that's a shift away from static base to agile. You've got to be incorporating this information. You've got to be looking at these variables. You've got to be... And, to me, another thing is if you don't understand your business, if you can't distill your business down to four to six KPIs, I'm looking you in the face, you don't know your business. Right? If you have to measure your business with 25 different KPIs, literally, let's be honest. Let's have a heart to heart. It's a trust circle in here, right? If you have 90 days, how are you going to get 25 KPIs better in 90 days? Right? Unless you have a whole army of people, right, focused on those 25 KPIs to get better. Right? Distill your business down to four to six. In the SaaS space business, I remember working with our CEO, Ohad Hecht, again. And he moved over from Vienna, and he was in the US. I came into his office. Right? And probably a lot of you resonate with this. He had his three screens open. He's got all these Excels, and he's just popping in and out, he's flipping back in here. I'm like,"Ohad, what are you doing?" He's like," Well, if I want to know how marketing's going, I've got to go look at this seed. If I want to know how sales are going, I've got to go to sales for it. Blah, blah." Looking at all these different places. And yes, Planful would have been a great solution, and I was pushing for it, and I was able to accomplish. But I was looking at it, and I was saying," Ohad." Here's where storytelling... Here's a nugget that I dropped out. I was like," Man, Ohad. It's hard driving the car that's Emarsys. Right? That's hard." He's like," Yeah, it is. I'm bouncing around trying to look at stuff." In summary, what we are able to do is create the entire SaaS business that we maintain in seven KPIs: leads drove to opportunities, opportunities to close one, close one to new projects, projects to projects completed, projects completed to revenue retention rate, revenue retention rate to revenue. It touched marketing. It took sales. It touched operations. It touched finance. It took customer success. Every single point of that customer journey, seven KPIs. And oh, by the way, it was on his phone. And I said,"Ohad, if you ever needed to know this, it's on your phone. Click refresh, and it's all right there." And you know what was awesome? That data visualization, back to when I said," It's hard to navigate this car," it was like fuel gauges. So it was like," Here's where we're at, the actuals. Here's where the forecast was. Here's where the budget was." Easily to be able to see that. Right? That's the power of using technology to tell a story, to put people in the right place to solve a business problem. Right? I didn't have to go hire six people to go be able to do that. We didn't need to go hire all these other people to keep track of these KPIs. We focused on being agile and how we looked at the business. This one, in my session later, I'm going to go deeper into this, but I just want to give a teaser on this one. This is probably one of the most important things. If you take one thing away from this entire session, we need to be more empathetic. As CFOs, as VPs of Finance, in FP& A, we need to be more about the warm and fuzzies. We need to be more about the feelings of our people. So go back to that Decision Cycle. Right? Who knows the Decision Cycle? Processes, data, information, knowledge, decision. Right? If you want to create an entire empathetic, data- driven, decision- making process, only one thing you have to do. Before the process, talk with the people, because people drive data, which in turn, information. That was, for me, one of the most important times, because connecting to the people, not just my team, but outside the team, right, the business during the peak of the pandemic. And that was our moment of fame. Why was it our moment of fame? Why was that our 15 seconds? Because chief revenue officers, chief sales officers, all these people were like," We don't know what's going to happen." The sales and the marketing people were stepping back, and the CFO came in and was like," We're going to get through this. We're going to navigate this. We're going to come out between this." Right? And we navigated it. Some of us navigated it a lot earlier, some of us are still navigating it, but we took that lead. And what that set for the business is a new baseline now. The business is like," Man, the CFOs get this. They came in, they stepped up, they helped navigate. They helped contracts. They helped build collaboration. They partner with me. They helped me with all these different things." We've created a new baseline with that. And to me, I think CFOs that looked at that as an opportunity to revolutionize what the value proposition is, that is the value proposition. The business now doesn't want the CFO to be sitting there and," Hey, here's what IFRS 15 means to us. And we've got to straight- line our commissions over our customer value." I remember explaining that to a salesperson. Yes, I explained ASC 606 to a salesperson. And they left with it quoting our revenue recognition and why it's important. That was probably one of the biggest accounting legislations that ever passed, right, that the FASB has ever released. And I had salespeople walking down the hallway," Hey, what's our revenue recognition policy? Implementations over three months and tech starts in four."" Okay. So if I have implementation of$ 12,000, how much revenue?""$ 4, 000 in revenue, Chris." I had sales people telling me our ASC 606 policy. Right? Why was that important? Because I met them where they were. This is really key. Meet the business where they are. If you expect a sales, marketing, operations person to come and be up here, nah, you've got to come down. Meet them where they are. Right? The business is not meant to serve finance. Finance is meant to serve the business. Too many times, we get that wrapped around. I talked about this earlier. We've got to put people above profits. I message this on LinkedIn a lot, and I remember being at the World Finance Forum, and I said this to people, and I sat in the front and was like," Yeah. We need to start putting people before profits." And that's a finance person saying that, but that's organizations doing that. The ESG, the economic social governance that is really going on right now is really, really important. I'm quoting right now, ESG is probably going to be one of the most important things that CFOs have the opportunities to lead inside organizations. Basically, what ESG is, is about diversity, equity, and inclusion, sustainable, your carbon emissions, and all those economic and environmental things, social and governance things that go into what these publicly traded companies are saying. Right? You get Microsoft to say," Yeah. We committed$ 2 million in diversity, equity, and inclusion." Right? And here's that professional skepticism in me that I learned from audit. Who's auditing that? Who's really saying that Microsoft did$ 2 million, and had 10% of their pipeline with diverse candidates? That's going to be huge. And who's going to lead that: sales, marketing, operations? No. The CFO is going to be looked to be able to lead that initiative. We've got to put people before profits. How to future- proof your team, I won't talk about all these. These are the four. I'm always about coining words. If you guys ever know me, I've got a C or A in three- letter words for everything that I do. My company has that with the six Ps. I've got the four Cs. It's like a dance. I should create a dance, the four Cs dance for how the future- proof your team. Okay. So big bets, I know we have a couple time left and I want to be able to get to questions. The biggest one out of this, this is so important right now, challenging the status quo, man. Every day I wake up, two things I try to do. I try to fail every day, and I try to disrupt the hell out of what a CFO means. Anytime I'm facing that, I'm like," Nah. I'm here to stir some shit up what it means about the CFO role." It's that time now. We have to challenge the status quo. Challenge the status quo around people. Challenge the status quo around your performance strategies. Challenge the status quo around your processes. Find opportunities to disregard this old traditional mentality of" same as last year," or," We've been doing this the same way for 25 years." We need to get rid of that. We have a tremendous opportunity right now to revolutionize and transform the value proposition, and what it means to be an accounting, finance, FP&A and CFO for the next five to 15 years. And I'm so passionate about that, because this is our moment. I tell my friends all the time, I'm like," Man, we are up now." This is that moment to challenge the status quo. So for a future bet, if you have that opportunity, it's going to ruffle some feathers. It's going to make some people uncomfortable. Right? But nothing ever really got done without making people a little uncomfortable or lighting a fire under somebody. This is the key takeaway on the future bay. We have to challenge the status quo in our processes and our people and our performance and our profit optimization strategies. We have to find those opportunities. Last takeaway, and I know I probably went over time. I knew it was going to be 40 minutes, and I was like," Man, 40 minutes for me is like, I'm getting warmed up right now, so I could go another 40." This is like in a championship fight, when you get that nice sweat, and you're like," Man, I've got the championship rounds to go through." But I'll leave you with this. What is the legacy that you're writing today? What is the legacy that you're leaving as a leader, as a person, as a family, as a brother or sister, all the different hats that you wear, what is that legacy that's going to ripple 5, 10, 15 years from now when you look back at this moment? And know right now, you have the opportunity to write that legacy. Be passionate about what you do, challenge the status quo, and have fun and be great. Thank you guys so much for your time. I hope you enjoy the conference. I know I went a little bit over on questions, but I'll take any questions. Thank you guys so much. What questions we got?

Cody: Just stick your hands up. I'm happy to run you on mic.

Chris Ortega: Everybody's ready for lunch. They're like,"Dude."

Cody: Yeah.

Chris Ortega: "We're ready to eat. Right before lunch."

Cody: We are technically the farthest breakout room from the lunch room.

Chris Ortega: Cool. No questions. Hey, everybody. Thank you so much. Enjoy. I got a session later. I'm one of the closers.


Balancing people and performance strategies is becoming more critical as the pressure builds on finance to work faster and think more strategically. It’s up to CFOs and FP&A leaders to adapt their people and performance strategies to meet these demands while considering talent retention, career development, and overall company performance. Hear Chris Ortega, Chief Executive Officer at Fresh FP&A, a finance and accounting consulting firm, dig into the role finance plays in bridging these gaps, including people and performance 30, 60, and 90 strategies, applying people scorecards, and understanding the balance between people and efficiency. 

Today's Guests

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Chris Ortega

|Chief Executive Officer at Fresh FP&A