HR and finance: what keeps your CFO up at night?

Having the support of the CFO is critical if you want to get management approval for people initiatives. Diageo CFO Michael Gabriel and HR director Lucinda Gemmell share their tips for working together to support the goals of their organisation.

HR and finance: what keeps your CFO up at night?
n it comes to HR and finance at the consumer goods company Diageo, talent is a top priority.

“The talent agenda here is the thing that worries me,” said CFO Michael Gabriel.

“Our business is driven around leadership and culture that delivers performance. You can’t deliver that agenda unless you have the right people and the right best practices to develop people. That takes up a large portion of our time and headspace to drive that agenda.”

Talent is also HR director Lucinda Gemmell’s focus and she said that attracting, developing and retaining top talent was more important than ever.

“We’ve got high engagement which is terrific but we need to work hard every day to ensure we keep doing that. Because we know it’s a massive strength of ours, it’s also a massive expectation on behalf of our people – rightly so. We make sure we’re living by the way we want to lead in this organisation and doing the right thing by our people.”

In terms of the business acumen, she said Gabriel expected her to understand the organisation and be as accountable for its performance as anyone else, including himself.
“I think we’ve got a relationship where he’ll bounce stuff off me if he’s got a succession idea, to enable that to happen. We need to be very integrated in our plans.”

According to Gabriel, it’s essential for HR directors to understand and be able to read the pulse of their organisation.

“The sales and marketing directors and I are very focused on performance, day to day, especially at certain key times of the month. Lucinda will be able to read the pulse about how people are feeling, so in certain conversations we can ask, are we pushing? Do we need to push them harder?

“Lucinda is also very good at holding people to account. She doesn’t necessarily sit in the day to day performance agenda but when things come up, she can say, ‘Well that’s not what we’re about, because if we’re being true to our culture that should drive performance’. Our culture is about ownership, about leadership, and Lucinda drives that agenda.”
  • Michael and Lucinda will give a presentation on What keeps your CFO up at night? The intersection of HR and Finance at the Executive Leadership Forum, 18-19 June in Sydney. Click here for more details
  • Check out HRD Magazine’s feature on Michael and Lucinda in issue 12.06, available 19 June

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