Vineta recently shared her insights with us on how she’s managed the transition from leading the finance function as Group Finance Director at Ocado Group to taking on her first CFO role.
What was your main motivating factor to move into the Group CFO role?
Over my ten years at Ocado Group, I experienced mass corporate growth, international growth, funding growth and more. I went from managing one person to over 150 people, sat in Board meetings, was a regular management attendee of the Audit Committee and reported directly to the Group CFO.
So, what drove me to make the move was that I wanted to transition from mostly heading up the finance function’s work to being the person who makes the decisions – to go from being in the room to confirm numbers to being the one in the hot seat.
Rohlik Group is also in an industry I love working in... you could think of it like an Ocado Group in five countries across Europe... so it’s a great fit for me and my experience.
What was at the top of your agenda in your first weeks – and do you have any other advice for others about to move into the CFO role?
During the interview process, you talk a lot about the exciting strategic projects you’re going to work on, but a big part of the Group CFO role – maybe 60-70% of it – is still going to be making sure your house is in order and that the finance team can support the rest of the business.
So, I think the first thing almost any finance leader will need to do is to understand the metrics of the P&L. What are the main KPIs the Board looks at and how do they leverage profitability? Then you need to quickly understand the balance sheet.
Ultimately, if you understand how you make money and you understand the balance sheet, you understand how your cash works - and getting that information quickly will give you quite a bit of comfort.
Your First 100 Days as a CFO
You then need to build your finance plan because you can’t make anything happen until you have a functioning team in place who understand what the finance priorities are.
You hear a lot about ‘future-proofing your finance function’, ‘developing a vision for your finance function in 2024’ and that kind of thing, but ultimately, to build a plan you need to talk to your direct reports, get them to also talk to their teams, find out what’s working and what’s not, then quickly come up with a plan and explain how it will make people’s lives better.
That’s what’s going to help win people over – and of course, getting to know the people you'll be working with is also going to be high up on your list of priorities.
As an incoming CFO, how else have you approached building relationships and establishing trust building trust within the finance function?
I knew that when I joined people were naturally going to wonder if things would change and if I was going to bring in my own people, so one of the first things I did was to give people that comfort sooner rather than later.
I think it’s important to provide that stability as soon as you can, whether through an all-hands meeting or via email, to let people know who your direct reports are, what they’re responsible for, and whether you’re going to make changes.
More generally, I wanted to establish an open-door policy and to talk to people about more than just their work. I’m going to spend more than 40 hours per week with my team... so I want to know what I can do to make their lives better, and what they want to achieve in their career over the next few years. I've never said no to anybody who wants development - I just don't get asked enough!
Ultimately, the Group CFO role is paramount to talent, retention, and culture. It’s important to get right, and it goes beyond just the actions I take because regardless of what I do, if there’s someone who’s creating a toxic work culture and I don’t do something about it, it’s going to look like I’m endorsing it. So, to create the culture I want my finance function to have, I need to make sure I have direct reports who share my vision and can drive it forwards.