July 6, 2023

Finance as the life blood of business: Lessons from Abiodun Ogunfowokan, ECFO of the month

With an extensive career spanning various industries, including banking, insurance, hospitality, and FMCG, our ECFO of the month, Abiodun Ogunfowokan possesses a wealth of experience in financial management.

With an extensive career spanning various industries, including banking, insurance, hospitality, and FMCG, our ECFO of the month, Abiodun Ogunfowokan possesses a wealth of experience in financial management. Notably, she has amassed over a decade of expertise in the FMCG sector, where she currently serves as a consultant. Through her consultancy services, she imparts invaluable knowledge and provides professional training to individuals and organisations.

In this special feature, Mrs. Ogunfowokan offers a candid glimpse into her career journey, reflecting on the challenges she encountered during her ascent and the invaluable lessons she gleaned from those experiences. Drawing upon her expertise, she highlights the transformative power of collaboration, underscoring its ability to drive innovation and forge lasting business relationships .

ECFO of the month aims to showcase the exceptional journeys of finance leaders within the Evolving CFOs community, offering valuable insights and shedding light on the strategies and mindset that have propelled them to remarkable achievements.

Please tell us about yourself, who you are, and what you do?

I am Mrs Abiodun Ogunfowokan, and I  have had the privilege of being educated at Nigeria’s oldest Girls’ Secondary School (MGHS) and the prestigious University of Lagos, which is globally recognized for its academic excellence. I hold a Second-Class Upper-division degree in accounting.

My journey toward becoming a Chartered Accountant began with the Accounting Technicians Scheme West Africa (ATSWA) programme, and in 2009, I successfully qualified as a professional in the field. I attribute my passion for professionalism to my late father, Chief G. O Sotayo-Aro. I have experience in various industries, including banking, insurance, hospitality, and FMCG. With More than a decade of Experience in the FMCG sector, I currently serve as a consultant training individuals and offering professional services to Individuals and organisations interested in the FMCG Sector. I provide them with the necessary guidance and expertise required to establish a successful business in this field.

What is your perspective on the importance of finance as a fundamental aspect of a business?

Finance is undeniably integral to any business, serving as its lifeblood. Even the most brilliant business ideas cannot be transformed into successful ventures without adequate financial resources. Finance plays a pivotal role in determining the fate of a business, whether it flourishes or flounders. However, it is not enough to simply possess the necessary funds; effective management of finances is equally crucial. Managing finance can be likened to nourishing the body with food, as it involves carefully planning, organising, directing, and controlling all financial activities within an organisation. The ability to sustain a viable and thriving business in the long term heavily relies on skilful finance management.

 As a Finance Manager or Chief Financial Officer (CFO), adopting a narrow perspective of “minding one’s own business” is inadequate. Instead, a finance manager must possess a forward-thinking mindset to ensure that company funds are utilised efficiently and effectively. This encompasses various aspects, ranging from revenue generation to strategic fund allocation in areas such as planning, procurement, supply chain, and logistics, and ensuring a continuous flow of funds while generating a reasonable rate of return on investments. Ultimately, a finance manager must exercise caution to avoid making unwise decisions that could lead the business towards bankruptcy. A thorough understanding of financial management principles is essential for success in this critical role.

What is your most noteworthy career achievement?

My most noteworthy career achievement stems from my unwavering commitment to my role as a CFO and my deep investment in the success of the businesses I serve. I proudly consider myself a natural CFO, constantly driven by a genuine passion for my employer’s endeavours. Working alongside a team of high achievers, built on a foundation of trust, has been an immensely rewarding experience. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of managing businesses that have demonstrated substantial and remarkable growth under my guidance. I take pride in being a part of history, from pioneering innovative strategies to successfully bringing them to market. One aspect of my work that I particularly relish is engaging with and serving customers, solving their problems and meeting their needs never fails to energise me. It is important to recognize that in any organisation, we have both internal and external customers, and it is these stakeholders that I am referring to. By consistently prioritising customer satisfaction, I have contributed to building strong and lasting relationships that have positively impacted the organisations I have served.

What are the lessons that you have learnt on your journey of being an exceptional finance professional?

On my journey as a finance professional, I have learned several valuable lessons that have contributed to my growth and success in the field. Firstly, setting clear goals and actively working towards achieving them is essential. This applies to all aspects of the job, from personal development to contributing to the organisation’s objectives. I also learnt that continuous learning is crucial to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving financial landscape.

Another lesson I’ve learned is the importance of making a positive impact within the organisation. It’s essential to adopt a proactive mindset and be willing to go beyond the confines of one’s job description. Embracing every available opportunity to showcase my abilities and demonstrate additional skills has significantly contributed to my professional growth and opened doors of new possibilities for me.

In addition, I learnt that a finance professional must possess business acumen. Understanding the intricacies of the business is crucial. By becoming a true partner rather than just an accountant who can contribute valuable insights and strategies to drive the organisation’s success.

 How has your experience as a member of the Evolving CFOs community been so far?

As a member of the ECFO community, I have experienced tremendous value and growth. The monthly webinars have been a source of soul enrichment and knowledge acquisition, providing valuable insights and perspectives in the field of finance. One of the highlights of being part of this community is the opportunity to engage in knowledge-sharing among fellow members. It is indeed a community of exceptional minds, characterised by professionalism and a collective drive for excellence.

The ECFOs community offers a platform for continuous learning, networking, and the development of meaningful connections.

I have been able to further expand my knowledge, find inspiration, and explore new avenues for personal and professional growth through the community engagement initiatives. The dedication and efforts of the entire team behind this community are truly commendable, and I am grateful for their commitment to fostering such a valuable initiative.

Being a member of the ECFO community has undoubtedly enriched my journey as a finance professional, allowing me to learn from industry experts, connect with like-minded individuals, and gain valuable insights that have contributed to my personal and professional development. I look forward to continuing this journey of growth and collaboration within this exceptional community.

Join the Evolving CFOs community to connect with Abiodun Ogunfowokan and other finance leaders, click here to join now.

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