576: Finance & the Beat of the Drum | Guido Torrini, CFO, Celonis

Listen to the Episode Below (00:56:23)

It doesn’t take long for CFO Guido Torrini of Celonis to draw our attention to the burden of the growing pools of data within organizations and the great irony that is afflicting many corporate finance departments today.

He’s referring to the fact that while at no time have finance organizations had more data to help them better expose the opportunities that lie ahead, at no time has finance been at greater risk of losing the focus required to help their organizations benefit from the opportunities.

“You can’t just throw new dashboards at people and make them awash in KPIs,” observes Torrini, who believes that it’s the responsibility of the CFO to first “distill the numbers” and then share them in a way that doesn’t undermine the focus required for organizations to succeed. 

“The ability to successfully execute is completely tied to focus,” says Torrini, who underscores his point by recalling the “3 C’s”—a favorite mantra of one of his early mentors, who implored his finance team to make every communication “crisp, clear, and concise.” 

Beyond clarity, Torrini points out, messaging is about consistency and making certain that the organization as a whole is able to receive it. 

“This is about crafting a message and delivering it over and over again, making sure that it goes across the organization and that there’s a structure and cadence to communicating and reviewing it,” notes Torrini, whose emphasis on “cadence” makes us think that he has perhaps added a fourth “C” to his mentor’s mantra.

Says Torrini: “It’s almost like a song that you find yourself repeating in your head without really understanding why.” –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Guido Torrini

Company: Celonis

Contact: www.celonis.com

Headquarters: Munich, Germany

CFOTL: What are your priorirites as a finance leader over the next 12 months?
Torrini: I like to describe the CFO as being kind of like the architect of the enterprise, in the sense of being someone who can actually design the machine and explain to people how the machine works and root every function in the organization in the revenue equation. This is how we make money. There are four or five important variables that matter at the company, and it’s all about how everyone can align around how we move these variables up and down so that we grow and expand our business. I think that it’s about not only providing the theoretical context for these, but also then leading people with the practical data and resolve and follow-through and monitoring that shows progress. Ultimately, you end up being not only the architect but also the drummer for the business–the one who sets the cadence and gives the rhythms on what’s working, what’s not working, and what we need to improve and on how we decide to allocate capital among the different initiatives, depending on what’s yielding the best results.

I think that the CFO position is amazing because you have a unique vantage point in having the opportunity to run the data side of things as well as the finance function. The standards compliance and stewarding responsibilities are very enriching and something that I’m very excited about. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to progress and be ready to do more. You go from steward to operator to strategy, but I think that the bigger role that synthesizes it all is this idea of the architect and the drummer.

A priority for us is making sure that the company can continue to double in size and create scalable and repeatable processes around the way that we operate and execute. This is pillar #1. Pillar #2 is to up our game in the way that I and our organization and the broader group that we’re building here can come to the front lines to not just be a good sparring partner but also actually drive business and drive revenue.