CFO Riaan Koppeschaar outlines three criteria for workplace promotion

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CFO Riaan Koppeschaar outlines three criteria for workplace promotion

Jan 1, 2024 | Interviews

‘When I give a project to someone, I let them run with it. It is their responsibility to ensure it is executed properly as they will be accountable for the outcome. However, I let them know that my door is wide open for them to reach out to me for input and guidance. That is what I believe is true empowerment – this is what makes all the difference between being a leader and being a manager,’ says Riaan Koppeschaar, the director of finance at Exxaro Resources Limited.

Leadership principles

Some of the principles Riaan applies in leadership were learnt in 2007 when he completed the Advance Management Programme at Instead Business School in France. The programme is designed for senior executives, primarily those at director level, to undertake course work and case studies to gain new insights and broaden their perspectives to a global level.

An important lesson he has learnt is that there is a need for diversity in a team. Team members should have different skill sets and come from different cultural backgrounds that can merge to ferment a level of efficiency. According to research from the Arcada University of Applied Sciences, workplace diversity contributes to higher productivity.

Riaan looks for three elements when selecting and promoting team members. ‘First is capability. The employee would need to have the requisite technical skills to perform their job description,’ he explains. ‘Secondly, they need to demonstrate that they are willing to put in the effort that is required for the team to achieve its objectives. Finally, they need to have the desired impact because you can complete the work, but the eventual impact of your work may be contrary to the organisation’s culture and values.’

With 150 people reporting directly and indirectly to him, Riaan often has to navigate a number of human resource issues, including keeping staff motivated and creating growth opportunities. ‘Ultimately what makes the company is the people who work for the company. It is a delicate balancing act because if people feel their voices are not heard, they feel unimportant, and their performance levels drop. As a board, we are constantly looking for opportunities to progress our staff.’

‘On the other hand, leadership also calls for honesty where occasionally you have to tell an individual that they are not suited for the role that they are hoping to get and that they need to reconsider their options.’

Disruption

If he had to start his career over again, Riaan would have chosen a different path. He has a great interest in deal making and would have pursued the Chartered Financial Analyst qualification and become an investment management professional. He doesn’t have sufficient time to read widely but when he does cast his eyes on written text it is in the Wall Street Journal, the American daily that predominantly features news on international financial markets.

Riaan is very aware that times have changed for professionals today and he believes they are unlikely to have a single career during their lifetimes. ‘All careers are bound to be disrupted at some point and therefore professionals getting into the workplace should be aware that their journey is not going to be straight-forward and predefined. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that technology will take over a lot of the tasks humans are currently undertaking. I would advise young professionals to broaden their horizons.’

According to him chartered accountants are lucky in that their qualification offers the foundation to pursue a variety of occupations.

Meetings

Among changes the pandemic has brought about is that it has increased our availability for meetings. For Riaan, the fact that he can be reached through Microsoft Teams at any given time has resulted in an increase in such appointments.

‘Even when I am on holiday, I get calls to join a call briefly and then it lasts for several hours. It can be problematic when meetings are disruptive rather than productive. A lot of meetings result from the regulatory environment as our engagements are geared to monitoring compliance with rules and regulations. Be that as it may, they need to be as short as possible and have clear outcomes.’

In this he shares the sentiments of Stephen Covey, the best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who writes that he finds most meetings to be a waste of time because participants are often ill-prepared.

Consequently, Riaan has learnt that it is important to have the ability to say ‘no’ to use his time effectively. That is the only way he can maintain a healthy work-life balance that permits him to drop off his kids at school in the morning and make it to the gym in the evening. The ultimate highlight in his personal and professional life is making time to be a husband and a father.

This article is an extract from the book Masters of Money – Strategies for Success from the CFOs of South Africa’s Biggest Companies available here – https://www.takealot.com/masters-of-money/PLID90121297?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAyp-sBhBSEiwAWWzTnmLGsW3EWthrsEzrN69lcPhFqkxkQjPsxSF6CHoP2oj6-XRBtDB5gBoCfA8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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