Talent, Technology, and Data at the MIT Sloan CFO Summit
November 22, 2023 / by Andrew McDonnell
The MIT Sloan CFO Summit was held on November 14th. It brought together 400+ CFOs and senior financial executives. In addition to CFOs, participants included CEOs, Presidents, Controllers, Treasurers, FP&A leaders, and other practitioners.
DataBlend attended the event as an attendee. "You must go if you are a CFO and have never attended the MIT CFO Summit. It has been described as the Catalina Wine Mixer of events (Note the "Step Brothers" reference I made there.)"
There were approximately ten panels, but three key themes emerged, including the role of the CFO in developing talent, technology, and data. Below are some of the key takeaways I drew from each of the themes.
Kate Bueker, CFO of HubSpot, said she brought in a peer CFO to talk to her team about how he is training his accounting team on Python and SQL (accountants are getting more technical). Finance roles rarely need someone with deep knowledge in one area; you want people who know enough to be dangerous in many areas.
Kim Dodge, former CFO of Ibex, said that precision and rigidity are what make a good accountant, but they don't always make a good business partner. CFOs should be showing their teams how to balance these.
Ravi Ragnauth, CFO of Berkshire Residential Investments, said that finance should be recruiting for skills (technical, interpretation, financial, storytelling) based on future and recurring needs, not open job requests.
Kim Dodge, former CFO of Ibex, said that when she started at Ibex, she had 20M in A/R across 25K customers. She could not get her arms around the data, so she built a data warehouse focused on signals (log-ins, volume, users) that allowed them to focus on the right customers and adjust their outreach and billing. This crosses into both technology and data themes.
Joseph Wolk, CFO of Johnson & Johnson, said that most people don't think of Johnson & Johnson as a tech company. However, he discussed the health giant's AI and tech explorations. He noted that the company employs about 3,000 data scientists; a thousand people write code for innovations like medical devices for robotic-assisted surgery.
I have been attending this event for almost a decade. However, this year, generative AI was discussed in nearly every session. The MIT Sloan CFO Summit is always an impressive event and is on my list of must-not-be-missed conferences.
About the Author
Andrew McDonnell is DataBlend's Senior Director, Revenue, North America. Andrew is a failed auditor and current sales leader. Learn more about Andrew >