The year was 2015, but for Jeff Laborde, a seasoned finance leader kicking off his second C-suite tour of duty, it seemed as though the conference room that he had just entered had transported him back to 2005—or was it 1995?
Across the way, an executive who had noticed Laborde’s presence stopped the meeting and queried: “Jeff, what are you doing here? Why are you in my meeting?”
Caught by surprise and somewhat tongue-tied, Laborde recalls, he registered a less than articulate response to the question that had quickly swallowed up the room’s attention.Read More
Having only recently joined the company as CFO, Laborde was seeking to sit in on a number of meetings in order to better understand how the company operated. Given that this particular gathering had been expected to discuss go-to-market priorities for the upcoming quarter, Laborde had made it his business to attend.
“I was only following my instincts, and it came as a shock to me to find their swim lanes so impervious to being swapped or crossed,” continues Laborde, who adds that the experience highlighted for him the importance of fully understanding a role’s limitations before accepting an appointment.
It wouldn’t be long, though, before Laborde’s career transported him back to 2015. “I realized that I wouldn’t be happy in the strict silo of finance without understanding what’s around the corner,” he remembers.
Still, Laborde tells us, finance leaders who expect to cross lanes and enter different operational areas of the business must always be approachable, while at the same time being prepared to experience what he refers to as “Oh crap!” moments.
He doesn’t provide us with much further detail here, but we assume that such instances involve developments that are perceived to put the operations of the business at significant risk. Nonetheless, Laborde’s advisory is less about managing risk per se and more about serving as a reminder to finance leaders to be mindful of the nature of their response to crisis.
“Stay calm, get your facts straight, don’t overreact—and just know that these moments are going to come,” emphasizes Laborde, who characterizes such moments as the status quo for CFOs who make looking around corners a priority.
For those finance leaders who do not, Laborde tell us, time travel remains a viable option.
He observes: “You shouldn’t assume that you’ll be welcome within core areas of the business. There are some CEOs and ownership structures that don’t expect or want the CFO to go there.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about JAGGAER … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Laborde: JAGGAER is a business based in Raleigh, North Carolina, that has been around for over 20 years. It is currently owned by the private equity firm Cinven, which was founded in the UK but has a large presence here in the U.S. We focus on assisting companies throughout the world—public sector and private sector, large and small—in managing their business spend and procurement processes to ensure that their management team—not just the procurement department, but everyone all the way up to the CFO and the rest of the executive team—has a really good handle on how they’re spending their money at the most basic levels.Read More
You can envision certain companies that perhaps have a less complex structure or need in terms of analyzing their spend—for example, a software company might use 80-plus percent of its spend on labor. On the other hand, a manufacturing company may have a multilayered supply chain that requires it to keep track of and tabs on all of the facets of each of the pieces and parts along the way. What are they supplying you with? What’s their pricing? What’s their timing?
More recently—and this is one of the really fun aspects of being in a business like this—we have had to take into account more of the changing dynamics that almost everybody today is having to deal with when it comes to sourcing goods and services. By this, I mean the results of how COVID has changed everything in terms of how the world’s business leaders are viewing their sourcing.
For most firms, this wasn’t just a case of ensuring redundancy or coping on an ongoing basis with who was going to be disrupted in what part of the world due to the lockdowns or shutdowns that were rolling around because of COVID. It was coming out of COVID with an understanding of all of the various pain points and pressures in the supply chain and maybe taking what had been offshore and nearshoring it. Our tools help with all of these facets.
Of course, too, the economy didn’t just get right back into its groove. We ended up having to deal with ESG becoming incredibly important. We started to see very material foreign currency fluctuations impacting business planning, particularly by companies that had international aspects. We are in an inflationary interest rate environment, so we have to deal with inflation’s effect not only on the cost of goods but also on working capital and how companies manage their cash flows. Then throw into this Russia’s war on Ukraine. All of these factors have arrived just one right after another, creating complicated dynamics and challenges for anybody running a business in today’s environment.
JAGGAER | www.jaggaer.com | Raleigh, NC