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2nd DigitalCFO Asia Symposium Singapore 2023 – The New Normal: CFOs As Key Change-Makers

3 mins read

12 May 2023

DigitalCFO Asia hosted the DigitalCFO Asia 2nd Singapore Symposium 2023 which aimed to address the novel obstacles that CFOs will encounter in their journey towards finance transformation. CFOs must also be proactive in generating sustainable value for their company by considering the well-being of both people and the environment. This involves establishing fresh environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting standards. 

The symposium kickstarted with opening remarks from Ryan Kwa, Group Publisher, DigitalCFO Asia. Following that, Keynote Speaker, Joanne Flinn, MSID, MSc, BEc/Llb, Chairwoman of the ESG Institute, took over to give her opening remarks  which touched on the key role that CFOs and Finance Leaders play in propelling their organizations to new heights through the power of digital transformation. An engaging yet insightful presentation, her session provided insight into how finance leaders can harness the potential of technology to drive innovation, efficiency, and success throughout the entire organization.

The event saw an equal mix of executive presentations, fireside chats and panel discussions. 

Nikita Asthana, Head, Sustainability Finance (VP) at Olam, shared in her executive presentation that it is crucial for companies to recognize ESG as a foundational element that can drive substantial change and establish a direct link to value within boardroom discussions. Mere greenwashing of existing strategies is insufficient; instead, organizations must genuinely embrace ESG principles and integrate them into their operational frameworks. The adoption and integration of ESG can significantly impact a company’s valuation, making it essential for businesses to carefully consider how they incorporate these concepts into their processes. 

Saj Molaee, Chief Financial Officer, AstraZeneca further emphasized that the evolving responsibilities of CFOs extend beyond financial reporting and cost control, now encompassing strategic company planning and digital transformation. To effectively leverage automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence, CFOs must collaborate closely with the C-suite, exploring digital business models, diversifying income streams, and positioning the company for growth. 

However, according to Vincent Lim Boon Seng, Chief Financial Officer, Datalogic, the rush toward digital transformation has led many organizations to overlook the necessary organizational changes, resulting in unexpected challenges as technology outpaces best practices. In his presentation, he mentions that “CFOs are the heart of the company” and further stressed that to navigate disruptions and focus on forthcoming upheavals, they must adapt and minimize disruptions from their digital processes, ensuring that they are better prepared for future disruptions.

The 2nd Singapore Symposium 2023 Witnessed Four Panel Discussions & Three Fireside Chats:

Evolving from the previous symposium run last year, this year’s symposium witnessed more panel discussions with interactive poll sessions to better engage audiences in the event hall. The panel discussion included topics; Predictions For The Role Of Finance Function In Singapore: What Should CFOs Be Prepared For In 2023 And Beyond, Mitigating Risks and Preventing Huge Losses in the midst of Geopolitical Fragmentation, Business Viewpoint: Managing Cash Flow, Complying with Regulatory Requirements & Leveraging on Technology and lastly, Collaboration Amongst C-Suites & C-Minus Executives

The speakers include: Zulaifah Abdul Ghani, Chief Financial Officer at ISS Global Forwarding, You-Jin Lee, Cluster CFO (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei) at Schneider Electric, and Philip Tan, Chief Financial Officer at IMC Industrial Group, along with the moderator Pankaj Kabra, SVP Finance at Traveloka, Shian Goh, Group Finance Director at Goodpack Pte Ltd, Bernard Aw, Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at Coface, Darrell Tan, Assistant Vice President Finance at Worldwide Hotels, joined moderator Kay van Buul, Director at KPMG Singapore, William Tan, Group Chief Financial Officer at Tiong Woon Corporation Holding Ltd, Elaine Hardiman, Group Chief Financial Officer at Proof & Company, Alvin Ip, Chief Financial Officer at Aspire, along with moderator Himashi Soriano, Managing Director APAC at the Association for Financial Professionals, Cyndi Pei, Chief Financial Officer at Regional Data Centre, Singtel, Shilong Yu, Chief Financial Officer at EM Services, Denis Caes, Finance Director at Scoular APAC, joined moderator Wilber Ng, Head of Singapore at AICPA & CIM.

An interesting point brought up by Zulaifah during the panel discussion was that “CFOs should be seen as a business partner to drive growth, not a hindrance”.

The 2nd Singapore Symposium 2023 Also Held Three Fireside Chats:

This year’s symposium was ablaze with captivating fireside chats that delved into a diverse range of topics that truly ignited the interests and priorities of finance leaders. The fireside chats included topics Post-Finance Transformation- What’s Next?, How can automation solutions transact with InvoiceNow and accelerate your digitalisation journey? and Building a Resilient Finance Team: Re-skilling Employees to Boost Strategic Value.

The speakers include; Andrew Soon, Vice President of Sales, Asia, Jedox, moderator June ShuTheng Cho, Portfolio CFO, Stepping Stone, Mr Siraj Iqbal, Assistant Director, E-Invoice Project Office ,IMDA, Derrick Sun, Director of Business Development, Sales, Esker, moderator Shalini Shukla, Tricia Ong, Senior Manager, LUXASIA, moderator Doris Cheng, Partner, Deloitte, Jake Prucha, Head of Sales, Workiva, Seow Tian Teo, Head of Finance at Hai Sia Seafood, and Joon Teoh, Chief Executive Officer, AGOS Asia.

The 2nd Singapore Symposium served as a platform for thought-provoking discussions and valuable insights, offering a comprehensive overview of the ever-evolving landscape of the finance function. With a diverse range of topics, the event explored key areas crucial for finance professionals in Singapore and beyond. 

The symposium was truly an enriching experience for finance professionals, equipping them with valuable knowledge and insights to navigate the complexities of the finance function. As the event came to a close, the attendees departed with a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that await them and a strengthened network of peers, ready to embrace the future of finance with confidence.

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