The Power of Effective Finance Communication

April 11, 2024 Mimi Torrington

finance executives planning effective ways to improve interdepartmental communication

Today's CFO, according to Alex Glueckler, must not only be a financial expert but also a master of finance effective communication. They are expected to provide insights and analysis that drive decision-making and help shape the company's long-term growth strategy. What other skills are on the CFO's growing list? Let's hear what Alex has to say.

With more than 18 years of experience in accounting, finance, and product management, Alex is a dynamic and goal-driven leader. He skillfully merges strategic planning, analytical prowess, and process enhancement capabilities to boost business efficiency and expansion. Some of his previous roles include Chief Financial Officer for CLMBR and Pure Harvest Corporate Group, as well as Interim CEO of Alternate36.

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Megan - 00:00:18: Today, my guest is Alex Glueckler. With over 18 years of experience in accounting, finance, and product management, Alex is a versatile and results-oriented leader who combines strategic vision, analytical skills, and process improvement expertise to drive business performance and growth. As the VP Accounting at CrossFit LLC, Alex oversees the accounting operations and recording of the CrossFit LLC, ensuring compliance, accuracy, and transparency. These days, Alex is passionate about building impactful relationships with internal and external stakeholders, aligning financial goals with organizational values, and supporting the mission of CrossFit to improve health, happiness, and performance. Alex leverages his certifications and project management to lead cross-functional teams, optimize workflows, and deliver innovative solutions. Alex , thank you very much for being my guest on today's episode of CFO Weekly.

Alex - 00:01:50: Hey, thanks for having me. Really excited to be here.

Megan - 00:01:52: Yeah, today we'll be discussing the evolving role of the CFO and learning from your 18 plus years of experience in accounting, finance and product management. Alex, I'm looking forward to learning about you and your experiences. So let's jump right in.

Alex - 00:02:07: Let's do it.

Megan - 00:02:08: All right. So first and foremost, let's start with a little bit about you and your career path and how it is that you got to where you are today.

Alex - 00:02:16: Sure. I think I started my career, as many in the accounting world do, at a CPA firm. I wasn't top four, but it was a top 10 firm there. The unique thing and unique twist on that is, while I did work for a large CPA firm, the location I had selected to go to in Arizona was made up of a couple of recently acquired small firms in the area. So I found myself in an office with a lot of senior professionals and partners in the firm, in the space. So I really got to work very closely with those partners, which was a really unique upbringing. Whereas many get funneled into the accounting world, either through tax or audit. I was doing both. I was working both on the tax side, the audit side, and some consulting as well on some manufacturing clients and real estate clients and a couple of government clients as well. So it was a really unique process and unique perspective I had. It was a blessing and a curse, I would say, though, that I had realized more and more each day how little I knew about accounting coming out of college. But the challenge made me better each day. And being around those partners, I saw firsthand a very holistic view of how the business needs from our clients were being approached and how some of the things that we were providing on the accounting and even on the finance side played a role holistically in the company. How tax work affected the audit, how audit tax planning even affected an owner's strategic decision-making, how audits approached how companies built processes around the company. It was just a really, really unique environment. I found myself gravitating toward being part of the side of the business of the strategic decision-making side and knew I wasn't going to get into that too quickly into being at the firm. And I'd get more out of it out of the private sector. So I was fortunate to find myself at a company that could align a little bit of my personal passion of sport and fitness with this new desire of being part of a company strategy through finance and accounting. I started a company called EXOS, which was a PE-backed company mostly known for performance training of professional athletes. The CFO at the time was needing someone to help on a newer division in corporate wellness. So I was able to help manage the accounting piece, but work hand-in-hand with leadership to understand what was going on on a monthly basis, how we were translating those numbers, and how I could provide help to make decisions on what was a growing division. We were able to take that small division and really accelerate its growth to some really large customers and some strategic acquisitions along the way. It was around that time I was approached by a friend that was representing a family private equity firm out of Florida. They were making some investments in the area and they were looking for someone to help their investments through being their financial leader in these companies. So I spent the next few years as CFO of some of these invested companies, which was really great. I got to be a financial leader in companies from complete startup all the way through growth stage and into that transitional phase in various industries that I quite frankly knew nothing about, but got to dive headfirst in and then be part of some really unique opportunities. Some took themselves public. So I got to learn how to take companies public. I got to learn how to be an officer of a public company in a little bit of a smaller controlled environment. But it was a unique opportunity for me, at least through the private equity group, to really get a dip in understanding of what it takes to be a financial leader and then how these companies grow, what makes them grow, and what are some of the good and bads that come with some of these different stages of company growth between that zero and $500 million a year revenue mark. It was around about four or five years ago, my family and I moved to Colorado. And I had heard around four years ago that CrossFit was recently acquired by a private equity group. And I've been doing CrossFit for the better part of 15 years now. And so back in my head, I always thought that would be a company I'd like to be part of. While I was still working in some private companies, I continued to look on and see. There was an opportunity that came up and I found myself speaking to some of the people at CrossFit and having a really great conversation about what they were trying to do, some of the transitions happening with the company. They've grown the companies around for about 20 years and in a couple of unique positions here. And so really found myself excited about the opportunity of jumping in and helping out on the the numbers side of the game. So I found myself at CrossFit to this day.

Megan - 00:06:36: Yeah, I was going to ask you if you were familiar with the CrossFit brand before taking on the role you're in now. And I also saw that you're a certified trainer or coach.

Alex - 00:06:47: Yeah. Even when I was at EXOS, I became a certified EXOS coach as well. I've really enjoyed learning about companies, how they operate and how the operational side works. I think it was a couple of podcasts ago, you were speaking with [inaudible] Fuse. I think the way she said it was, you really need to meet operations at their level. And it couldn't be said better. I mean, I think to get away from the numbers a little bit and understand what's going on in the company is really impactful for a person in the finance and accounting department. It's real easy for us to sit back in our ways and really just look at the numbers or be stuck in the Excel spreadsheet and look at the data. And I think that there's a lot more to be told and to understand what a company is doing to really embrace what it is and get a lot out of it. I think it provides somebody in my position to be able to translate what's going on with the numbers, with what operations is seeing, and to also be able to effectively communicate some of those challenges that are going on to various departments.

Megan - 00:07:45: And looking back 18 plus years ago in college, or maybe even beforehand, but when did you realize that you had a proficiency for numbers and wanted to possibly pursue a career in finance and accounting?

Alex - 00:07:57: Looking back at college, I like to joke around. I think it was the time I was looking to choose a major. I was busy playing sports and having fun in college. But I think my dad had read an article about the upcoming need for accountants in the workforce or something to that degree. And so he turned to me and he said, Alex, you're really, you're anal retentive and good with numbers. You should be an accountant. And it's funny, I knew I always wanted to get into business. And he was right. I gravitated towards science and math growing up in college and even still do to this day. So accounting became that conduit to how I translated business. I really enjoyed that part. I really enjoyed getting to understand what the numbers mean, how they present, not just on the P&L, but on the balance sheet, which I think tells a much deeper story of a company. And then really understanding kind of from an ownership perspective or leadership perspective, how decision-making, how critical decision-making in different stages of a company and how some of the transitions as they grow can be challenging, but coming out the other end in different ways is pretty exciting to me.

Megan - 00:09:03: And can you talk to us a little bit about the volunteering that you do alongside your various financial roles as a busy man must be something that's very important for you in order for you to make the time to do it.

Alex - 00:09:14: Sure. Yeah, I really enjoy volunteering. My wife and I volunteer a lot with our kids now. I think it's something that I've done for some time, continued to be central to maybe a lot of my life. I went to a Jesuit high school and a Jesuit college, which really encouraged service for others within their curriculum. And so after college, it felt natural to jump into nonprofits. And I think there's a lot to be garnered out of it. Selfishly, you can look at it and say it's great for socializing and building your network. But I'd go further and say, you know, if you're going to build your networks, you might as well build it in that right environment. And I think I've had a great time even outside of that network thought process, but just being part of a community, finding ways to help in any way possible, whether it's sitting on a board or rolling up your sleeves and helping clean up a disaster area. So I've been part of a number of nonprofits as I've grown. And then I've done some mentorships. As my career has progressed, I've found that the mentorship is kind of fun because you see patterns as younger professionals are coming into the workforce with idealistic opportunities, and thoughts of opportunities, then being faced with the challenges of real life. And so being able to help guide them through, see the forest, see the trees, it's really impactful now. So I think with my family, a lot of our volunteering nowadays is more toward our local community where my children can be part of it as well. And then some fun things. I like to keep it fun. I coach my son's lacrosse team and stuff like that. So I think it's just a way to be involved in the community, and help grow it in different ways.

Megan - 00:10:46: That's amazing. So you've had a few different roles as CFO. So looking back, in what form or position do you feel that you were able to make the biggest impact? And how did you do that?

Alex - 00:10:59: Well, that's a good question. I've been fortunate enough, as you said, to be in a few different roles in industries. I'd quite frankly never thought I'd be in, but I think the ones that come to mind are the ones where ownership is very clear on their vision. Ownership is very clear on their strategic goals and communication is very high. So when I look at a lot of the different formative positions that I had coming up. Even before becoming a CFO, I found that those were the greatest areas of the impact. When I was at EXOS, the CFO that I worked under, I learned a lot from her on how to communicate really well, both from external stakeholders and internal stakeholders alike, particularly between the board and executive leadership. And I think that was critical. Moving to the private equity side, I can think of a handful, but I think really the ones that jump out the most are really going to be the ones where the relationship between the CFO and the CEO and even the boarder ownership board, is aligned. They don't have to agree with everything. And I don't think any business has a perfect world in that instance, but aligned with a vision and execution strategy are usually the ones that end up being able to make the biggest impact.

Megan - 00:12:13: And as you look at the responsibilities of a CFO, how have you seen those evolve over the last five to 10 years?

Alex - 00:12:21: Yeah, the role has changed a lot. I mean, I think...

Megan - 00:12:24: It really has.

Alex - 00:12:24: Yeah, from primarily focusing on like financial reporting and compliance, I think that's table stakes today. CFOs now are kind of broadening their perspective and answering what I call like the so what of all the numbers, right? Expected to be strategic partners to executive leadership, helping drive growth, managing risks, leveraging and data to help make decisions, but then also to be able to understand the impact of some of these decisions. And so I think the responsibilities of CFO, I mean, really comes down to effective communication now and then understanding the impact the business has in each step that it takes because the CFO has to understand all the different inputs that are coming in, what's going to happen or what's some of the risks that are happening with each step and be able to identify them so we can make the right decision going forward.

Megan - 00:13:16: And given the evolving role of the CFO, how have the skills that you're looking for on your own team changed during that period of time?

Alex - 00:13:27: Yeah, I actually think that the skills have changed just as much. I think the technical proficiency remains essential. I think understanding the compliance piece, the accounting piece, that's never going to go away. But there's a growing demand on analytical skills, adaptability in software and tools, and the ability to communicate very complex information to just a variety of stakeholders out there. With increased areas of compliance, you're having to do a lot more and sometimes with a lot less and having to be able to manage that in their adapting world of new software being thrown in or new teams being put up. And to be able to understand how things are going to be accepted and to be able to communicate those is pretty valuable. So when I look at hiring a team, I'm really looking at beyond the technical proficiency. What are some of the soft skills that they possess to be able to be a little bit more analytical as to what they're doing as opposed to just looking at inputs and outputs?

Megan - 00:14:27: And do you feel increased pressure to really innovate in your role in the current landscape? And if so, how much scope are you given to do so?

Alex - 00:14:36: Oh, sure. Yeah, I think the pressure to innovate is always there. Rapidly changing technology and advancements are pushing the CFO role. And anyone in finance and accounting will have to drive the financial process. Everybody wants the closed-down sooner and the information quicker. How can we create reporting in dashboard format and beautiful dashboards quicker, almost real time? I've been fortunate enough to work in environments that have supported that. Year across that, we've actually been doing a lot of that recently, trying to gather as much data as we can to be able to provide some really key insights and understand what's going on. The only caution there, I would say, when it comes to data analytics and data there is, I think we get all this information and we think of the input and we say, okay, well, this KPI says this, so it must mean this other thing. The piece there is with all this innovation, I think that we as financial, leaders need to be acutely aware of what makes up that data. What are the pieces in the company that could influence that, right? There are always external factors that influence data. And it's really easy for us to look at a KPI or some sort of metric within a division and say, oh, that must mean such and such. The reality is, is we have to understand what's going on with that team or what are some of the strategic objectives of that team. And if we can't really put a story to that or really understand what the data is saying and why the data is saying it, doesn't really, we can find ourselves, unfortunately, going down the wrong path or misinterpreting that data. So innovation is key, but I think that we still have to hold the foundation of understanding what financial processes exist and why.

Megan - 00:16:19: I'm just curious, but AI or generative AI.

Alex - 00:16:22: Oh, yeah.

Megan - 00:16:23: It's so new, but holds so much promise. Are you guys doing anything with it at the moment?

Alex - 00:16:30: At the moment, no. I heard your podcast, I think it was like last week with Max on his AI software. It seems very promising. There's a lot that's there. I think it can really help the financial area of a company. But again, my piece to that, and I think the challenge that a lot of these systems have to deal with is the uniqueness of each company and understanding what that data is providing and how it's coming to be. So it's real easy for everybody to jump onto ChatGPT or something like that and ask it to do something, but we still have to read it and understand what we're trying to achieve. I think that AI has a lot of promise. We just need to make sure that we all don't lose the fundamental understanding of how the company runs.

Megan - 00:17:10: So as you think about the challenges that we've all faced in the last few years, how is it that you're managing the stress? And what strategies can you share for avoiding burnout, both for you and your team?

Alex - 00:17:23: Sure. Well, I mean, it's really easy when you work at CrossFit.

Megan - 00:17:26: Yeah, I was going to say, working out is a great one.

Alex - 00:17:29: Yeah, I mean, I think the accounting and finance world is no stranger to low morale and burnout. The demands, as we just talked about, all this technological advancement, all this data does negate the fact that there's just a lot of work to do. And compliance is just making it, can make it more and more difficult, especially when you become an international organization. And I think there's a lot of different ways we do it on our team. I work with a really amazing team and being able to communicate with them, have very open dialogue and conversations with them is hugely impactful for me to understand where my team is at. Being able to acknowledge the hard work as a team, I think is definitely something that's important. It helps me understand when someone's really at capacity, when really somebody's losing that motivation. I think being able to talk about it is a big deal. I think the other part is the culture of the company. I think a lot of companies are talking about all the different great things that they provide employees, work from home, time off, all these gym reimbursements. I think they are great. I think not just offering them, but walking the walk as opposed to just talking the talk. It's real easy for a company to say you have unlimited PTO, but really embracing that and telling some, acknowledging somebody taking PTO and saying, that's great. I'm really excited. And acknowledging that, I think is a different step in that process. Our team is pretty open about going on vacations when they need to. And it's never really met with any sort of side-eyed glance, if you will, from our team or even from me. If somebody needs to go on vacation, that's what they do. And by no means expecting them to pick up the phone. I think we've all been so accustomed to working in this fast-paced industry and just business in general is so quick at wanting to get a received message from email. I think as a leader, being able to slow that down is a pretty important thing.

Megan - 00:19:22: Yeah, I mean, technology.

Alex - 00:19:23: And then also going out and, I'm sorry, I was going to say, and also working out is always a good thing too.

Megan - 00:19:28: Yeah, 100% agree with that. I carve out an hour every day, almost every day to be able to work out. But I was also going to say that technology is amazing, but it has made us available pretty much 24-7.

Alex - 00:19:41: It has. It has. And my team is mostly remote. So once a year, well, once a year, the whole company gets together, but at least once a year, our team plans a trip together. We do have some meetings as a team, but we also make sure it's fun. We actually just got back from Mars a couple of weeks ago. We went to Nashville, Tennessee for an event that our company put together, but it was great. We got to be worked out together. We had a really fun time at a couple of events and eating together. I think that that's impactful. I think when we are so accustomed to working remotely or even in this hybrid world, it's really easy for us to hide behind the computer and fall into ruts. I think that we do need to make those proactive efforts as leaders to make sure our team is doing well and asking those extra questions, being communicative, and then finding time to get together is really important. Our weekly meetings, in as much as I'd like to talk about all business, I really try to make sure we carve out a lot of time to just talk. We miss that, the times where we're walking down the hall in an office and just catching up with one another. So I really try to make a concerted effort on my one-on-ones and in our staff meetings to also bring a lot of personal pieces to it. Somebody goes on vacation, I want them to tell me how their vacation was and what they did and just talk about it, be excited about it, find that excitement. So I think that's pretty important as well from the burnout perspective.

Megan - 00:21:04: And you've talked about aligning organizational values with financial goals. So is that something that you pride yourself on being able to do?

Alex - 00:21:12: Yeah, I think that organizational values are critical to help guide a company. Those core beliefs that are held by the organization. If you don't have them or you don't have a core direction to follow, it's real easy for especially companies that are smaller to kind of get this what I call shiny object syndrome to start doing something and say, oh, the market's going over here. We should shift over here or we should go over here. And we should be agile enough to do all these things. Well, it's great, but we really need to make sure that we've set aside these values and understand what it means to be at the company that we are and do those really, really well. I think that a lot of companies tend to lose sight of that and what that ends up doing whenever we talk about different projects that people work in or working cross-functional teams, having a lack of direction from an organizational perspective really starts to affect how teams and how companies function in general. So I do pride myself on trying to really align that. I think it's central to how a company needs to operate to be successful long-term.

Megan - 00:22:23: And have you naturally gravitated to organizations that have these strong cultural values? And if so, does that foundation take away some of the risks inherent with the role of a CFO?

Alex - 00:22:34: It's a good question. I don't know if it takes away the risks. I think that the values help the CFO understand, or any executive leader for that matter, understand what they're driving toward. And I think it really provides a great guide path to understand where we're trying to achieve long-term. And then have that as a basis of inherent in a lot of the strategic decision making that's made within the company. We want to go down this path. Well, is this really inherent to who we are? Yes. Okay, great. Why is it that we want to go down this path? What are some things that we need to do? What are the risks related to it? It becomes that backboard to how we operate.

Megan - 00:23:13: And forming and maintaining relationships with stakeholders is an important part of any CFO's role. So what experiences at your many different workplaces have helped you to develop the softer skills needed to manage these types of things successfully?

Alex - 00:23:29: Oh, yeah. I think communication is very critical to any financial leader. I think building maintained relationships with stakeholders is a combination of communication, empathy, and maybe a little bit of negotiation they had thrown in there. You know, a lot of these skills come from working with various different departments, not being afraid to engage in those conversations and being very open to understanding what people are working through, what challenges are happening. And being able to have a conversation about the financial implications of decisions that are happening within the organization to be able to maybe shed some light on what's going on. A lot of stakeholders, both internal and external will likely have their own opinion of something that's formed based on their life experience or based on their, their lens and being able to come in with a little bit more of an open or a little bit more empathy to what's going on. I think it provides a little bit of a guidepost to, to understanding not just where they're coming from, but why they're making the decisions they are, why they have the opinions that they do. So I think within my past, the most critical ones have been really in working within that time. Working with private equity firms, understanding maybe what they're driving toward versus maybe what operations is facing challenging times. We're understanding what investors are looking for. They don't necessarily seem like they're maybe aligned, but they really are in certain pieces of their desired outcomes. And so being able to engage in that dialogue and then set expectations between those two different stakeholders is invaluable.

Megan - 00:25:08: I feel like as accountants, we are somewhat introverted or a lot of people that gravitate towards numbers tend to be. So how do you put yourself out there? I just did an episode on the CFO being like a storyteller. But how is it that you hone that skill and get yourself out there in front of people rather than just maybe hiding behind your laptop at your desk?

Alex - 00:25:34: No, I love that question. I love that question because I think I've thrown people off a few times working with them because I'm not afraid to leave my desk and just have the conversation face-to-face or be away from my, so to speak, get away from the Excel spreadsheet. I do think that that's a skill that is more and more critical to the accounting and finance world. It's real easy for us to, I think it comes naturally to us because coming out of college, we typically find ourselves in positions, whether it's staff accountant, financial analyst, where we're behind our computer honing our skills for so long. The industry doesn't do a really great job of teaching us to get away from that. I think one of the biggest steps that we can take as accountants is really acknowledging that while we do have a really great understanding of what's going on from the data side, from the financial statement side, we can be very new from the operational side. And so being willing to have a white belt mentality, so to speak, not knowing and just being able to listen and being able to ask questions in an environment where you're willing to learn, I think is a really great first step. You get to learn the business a little bit more. I've been fortunate enough to it. Not just being in the position of CFO, but I've done some project management stuff as well, where I found myself helping with software development and realizing I knew nothing about it. So I went back and I learned, went back and got my project management professional certification and even took some software development classes to learn about what people are doing from the coding side, because quite frankly, I knew nothing about what IT was doing. And I was fortunate enough to find a lot of people along the way to help provide some insights as to what's going on. I think understanding that we don't have all the answers in the numbers, but we can help connect the dots between maybe what somebody's struggling with and what we're seeing. I think that's the storyteller piece, right? I think that's the acknowledgement piece, but we first have to be able to understand the challenges or maybe the opportunities that people are facing and then be able to connect those dots.

Megan - 00:27:37: And you just mentioned it, but your certifications in project management have helped you to successfully lead cross-functional teams. So do you have any advice for getting the most out of diverse teams whose ultimate goals can sometimes be at odds?

Alex - 00:27:53: That's a great question. The term cross-functional teams is so fun. I think the key to success there, though, when you're putting teams from different areas of the company together, I think there's a couple critical pieces that start to cause division or start to cause issue. And that's where you find a lot of them being at odds. The first one being is, I think when people are put into cross-functional teams, sometimes they're not necessarily aligned or maybe the articulation of why the team is coming together and how it aligns with the corporate strategy or the corporate vision or the direction the company is going. That's not necessarily provided. And so I think these cross-functional teams will have objectives, but they really don't understand how those objectives solve maybe a greater problem. And so you'll find certain people on a team will have from technology or from marketing or from finance, they have particular objectives within their team. And the odds that you find people at odds are maybe because they have different objectives that aren't really aligned. And so being able to understand and be able to articulate how this team needs to be able to create or have an output that aligns very well with a company objective, I think is critical. The other thing I think that's another critical piece to this is the ability or the... Let's see how would I put this. I think that the other piece to this is being empowered as a team. Cross-functional teams sometimes are put together and they may or may not have the ability or they're not empowered to make decisions, which really devalues what the purpose of a cross-functional team is. And being able to empower that team or empower at least somebody on that team to make decisions related to what their objectives are, I think is another critical components. So the cross-functional teams that tend to be at odds tend to lack one or both of those pieces, in my opinion. But if they are at odds, and it doesn't have to do with that, a lot of times I find just from a project management perspective, there's a lot of clear objectives that need to be provided upfront. And providing a very, very clear resource plan for those that are involved tends to clear up a lot as well. Communication is always key. You will always find miscommunication are at a core of these disputes. But I think that just being very, very clear in communication and being very clear in understanding the expectations from the get-go is absolutely critical. Sorry, I know I rambled on that one.

Megan - 00:30:24: No, no, no. That was a great answer. And yeah, I was going to mention that comes back to communication again and just how incredibly important it is to have communication skills and be transparent as a leader.

Alex - 00:30:38: Yeah, I think the transparency... I think when people, especially in accounting and finance, they hear the word transparency. It's, oh, we're going to show them numbers. I think the transparency in communication and understanding and willingness to learn is pretty impactful, even beyond the numbers. Communications, as we've said throughout this conversation, it's a pretty central component of any financial leadership position. Understanding the requirements of a company and understanding what is going to be required of not just the teams, but of a business maybe changing or the evolution of how businesses function. Being able to communicate really well throughout those processes are going to be invaluable. Because I think people in different areas of business often, when they don't receive communication and the question of, gosh, what's going on with this company or why are we doing this or why are we doing that, tends to cause a lot of frustration throughout the organization.

Megan - 00:31:32: Yeah. And what people make up in their mind is always much...

Alex - 00:31:35: Oh, sure.

Megan - 00:31:36: Most oftentimes worse than what's actually going on.

Alex - 00:31:39: Oh, exactly. Exactly. And, you know, I mean, nothing's perfect. I think we entrust individuals to be in leadership positions and perhaps people think that, okay, that person has all the answers. And the reality is, is they're in a position for a reason. They have the experience, they're knowledgeable in what they've done, but there's a lot of information out there in an organization. Being able to get as much of it and to be able to make the right decisions is going to be critical. And to be able to be communicative with the teams, be able to have an open dialogue on both sides of the equation, you know, for having individuals to be able to communicate upward and downward in the organization is a critical component for a successful business.

Megan - 00:32:22: And what internal and external factors determine how much risk you feel you need to maintain growth and financial stability?

Alex - 00:32:32: Risk. That's always a fun one. You know, there's several factors, I think, that for the CFO or the financial or accounting leader, market conditions, industry dynamics, financial health, those are all some of those key indicators. But really understanding how decisions impact the organization, I think is that next step. Being able to assess, hey, we want to get into this market, or I want to offer this product, and being able to really understand some of the causes of some of the decisions is a different step to that risk that I really think is undervalued. I think, though, that balancing risk and reward is a continual process. Every decision, I think, requires a level of analysis. And I think a lot of that comes down to the CFO role. I think a lot of people that are in that role are constantly being asked to analyze some of these strategic decisions for the company's success.

Megan - 00:33:28: And last question, but speaking of risk, so when you think about the future, does anything on the horizon give you pause?

Alex - 00:33:38: Oh, wow. So what keeps me up at night, so to speak?

Megan - 00:33:41: Yes.

Alex - 00:33:43: I think professionally, I guess, in today's environment, there's plenty to keep us up at night. But when I look at my company, the pieces of my job and the pieces of my position and pieces of, I think, any financial leader's position is, how can we be as proactive as possible in something? And so I think the things that keep me up at night are, what do I not know that I could be making decisions on or that I could be proactive on? So sometimes I get the feeling that the finance and accounting division at companies can often be overlooked or sometimes even last to know, so to speak. And so it's hypercritical that we as a team are constantly in touch with the operations side of the company, with various stakeholders in the company as they make decisions so we can stay ahead of it. So the things that keep me up at night are probably the things that I could be proactive on, that I could get ahead of. Some of the market volatility, some of the regulatory changes, certainly things like cybersecurity threats or even economic uncertainties lie in the back of my hand at the waking hours of the night.

Megan - 00:34:51: Alex, thank you so much for being my guest today.

Alex - 00:34:54: No, thank you. This was great. It was great to sit down and speak with you. I really appreciate it.

Megan - 00:34:57: Yeah, I've enjoyed speaking with you and thank you for finding the time to be here with us today. I wish you and CrossFit all the best.

Alex - 00:35:05: Yes, thank you very much. I appreciate it and really looking forward to the years to come here. It's an exciting company and as I said, I really enjoyed being part of it. Glad to see that other people are implementing fitness into their journey. So, it's good to hear.

Megan - 00:35:18: Such an important component of, I mean, I don't know, staying active is incredibly important.

Alex - 00:35:23: Healthy work-life balance.

Megan - 00:35:24: Yeah, yeah.

Alex - 00:35:25: Yes. Good. Well, thank you.

Megan - 00:35:28: Yep. To all of our listeners, please tune in next week. And until then, take care.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The evolving role of the CFO

  • Effective leadership and communication in finance

  • The importance of work-life balance for CFOs

  • Managing stress and avoiding burnout

  • Harnessing the power of data analysis in finance

Key Takeaways:

Strategic Leadership and Communication

Besides financial oversight, the evolving CFO role now demands strategic partnership, risk management, effective communication, and leveraging data for informed decision-making. Skills sought in team members have shifted towards analytical abilities, adaptability, and the capacity to communicate complex information clearly. Regarding pressures to innovate, Alex stresses the balance between embracing technology for faster, insightful data analytics and maintaining a deep understanding of financial processes.

Quote strategic leadership communication

“The responsibilities of the CFO come down to effective communication and understanding the impact the business has in each step that it takes.” Glueckler said. - 10:47 - 17:07

How to Beat Burnout

Managing stress and avoiding burnout goes down to a combination of open communication, recognizing team members' hard work, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Alex highlights the significance of creating a supportive company culture that genuinely embraces flexibility without judgment, such as encouraging taking time off and truly disconnecting during vacations.

Alex Glueckler accounting VP crossfit Quote

“The accounting and finance world is no stranger to low morale and burnout. All this data doesn't negate the fact that there's just a lot of work to do, and compliance can make it more and more difficult, especially when you become an international organization.” According to Glueckler. - 17:09 - 21:02

Communication, Empathy, and Storytelling in Finance

Developing effective communication, empathy, and negotiation skills is essential for any CFO looking to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders. The same applies to drawing from diverse experiences across different departments, engaging in open dialogues, and understanding the unique perspectives and challenges of both internal and external stakeholders. Remember to leave the desk to have face-to-face conversations and embrace a learner's mindset to understand operations beyond the numbers.

communication and empathy in finance Quote

As Glueckler said, “I think building maintained relationships with stakeholders is a combination of communication, empathy, and maybe a little bit of negotiation they had thrown in there.” - 23:14 - 27:36

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