Investing In the Growth and Innovation of the Business

Mary A. Winston, EVP & CFO, Family Dollar Stores
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Mary A. Winston, EVP & CFO, Family Dollar Stores

CFOs Playing a Key Role in Driving the Business Forward

The CFO and the entire finance team play a significant role in driving the success, growth and increased shareholder value of a company. Today’s CFOs add value by finding a balance between being a strategic advisor and decision maker, and also ensuring accurate reporting and compliance. My primary focus is on partnering with the CEO and senior business leaders to make the right decisions for the long term success of the business. I expect the same level of partnership and operational focus from my team. It starts with understanding the business well and building the collaborative relationships that will make finance a partner in identifying business strategies and making key decisions. The finance team is typically the financial  onscience of the organization, helping to shape business initiatives in ways that will maximize the financial results while also achieving the operating and customer  bjectives. That’s when finance teams really maximize their business impact and add value to the company overall.

"The CFO must be part of the decision-making process before investments are made"

Striking a balance with the growth-focused CEO

Investing in the growth and innovation of the business while also being cost conscious is one of the trickiest aspects of a CFO’s job. It starts with understanding the company’s financial limitations and setting the spending guidelines upfront. From there, it becomes a process of understanding the business impact and financial return from various investments and choosing those that have the most impact. In our business, investing Investing in the growth and innovation of the business while also being cost conscious is one of the trickiest aspects of a CFO’s job. It starts with understanding the company’s financial limitations and setting the spending guidelines upfront. From there, it becomes a process of understanding the business impact and financial return from various investments and choosing those that have the most impact. In our business, investing in our merchandise assortment to stay relevant for the customer is critical to our long-term success. We are also investing in our store base to open new stores and renovate existing stores. While these investments are vital to the long-term success of the business, the CFO must be sure these investments are delivering the expected return and profitability. When unexpected projects arise, priorities have to be set and tough choices may have to
be made, but always with an eye towards what is really needed to innovate and grow the business. The CFO must be part of the decision-making process before investments are made. This includes analyzing the expected returns, helping the business adjust the plans to maximize returns and assessing the performance afterwards. It is a delicate balance of investing to grow a business, while doing that within the financial constraints of the company. Sometimes, it’s more an art than science.

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