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How CFOs can be the drivers of organizational change

In this episode of the Better Finance podcast, Myles Corson welcomes Joel Bernstein, CFO, Customer Success & Head of Global Finance at SAP. They discuss SAP’s business model transformation, how finance functions adapted during the pandemic to accelerate investments in digital finance, and SAP’s efforts to make environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting more transparent.

SAP has had to embrace significant change in their transformation from a legacy business model to a cloud only business model. An integral part of the transformation was the ability to articulate corporate purpose, as well as a clear strategy about where the business was heading, to engage and inspire its people to make a sustained change.

ESG and sustainability issues are being widely embraced by the business world at large. As regulators, including the recent proposal from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, introduce global standards on climate-related disclosures reporting requirements progress, CFOs have a valuable and critical role to play in building reliable ESG reporting processes. SAP is a frontrunner in this area, having announced carbon neutrality by 2023, two years ahead of what they originally thought they’d be able to accomplish.

By focusing on the needs of both internal and external customers, Joel believes finance has the opportunity to be a better business partner and thought leader to drive change across the organization. 

Key Takeaways

  • If finance is not fully involved in transformation, it’s happening without the function, and not as a result of it. Be on the right side of that equation.
  • Embrace the opportunity for finance to be a business partner, thought leader, and change driver. Finance should not be the reason that things cannot change.
  • The importance and acceleration of ESG and sustainability is very visible, and it is taking shape in the office of the CFO. This is a unique opportunity for finance to link operational and financial data to sustainability, making a big impact to the organization and its stakeholders. 


Season 4, Episode 6


32m 9s