CEO Ruth Zaipuna urges CFOs to become forward-thinking visionaries


At the launch of the CFO East Africa Tanzania Chapter, the former CFO and now CEO of NMB Bank Ruth Zaipuna discussed the transformative journey of the finance leader’s role in today’s dynamic and ever-evolving business landscape.

“The role of the CFO has undergone significant transformation over the past few decades. Behind us are the days when the CFO's primary focus was merely on custodianship, financial reporting and compliance. They are pivotal business leaders in driving the strategic direction of businesses and this evolution is a consequence of the growing complexity of the global environment,” Ruth said.

She noted that the expectations of the modern CFO have expanded dramatically. They are no longer confined to the back office and are expected to be forward-thinking visionaries, who not only manage financial performance but also drive innovation.

“In this new era, CFOs must deeply understand technology, data analytics and digital transformation. They must be agile, adaptable and equipped to navigate through volatility and uncertainty. As trusted advisors to the CEOs and the executive teams, CFOs provide valuable insights that help steer organisations towards strategic goals,” she explained.

“CFOs bring a unique perspective that balances financial acumen with strategic foresight, ensuring that business decisions are not only profitable but also sustainable. In this capacity, CFOs are instrumental in identifying growth opportunities, managing risks and optimising resource allocation,” she added.

Ruth advised the CFOs present to be well-rounded and develop a robust understanding of the local and global operating environment. She explained that sustainability is a critical area where the CFO’s influence is growing, given stakeholder demands with respect to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.

“CFOs play a crucial role in integrating sustainability into the corporate strategy. They are responsible for measuring and reporting on sustainability metrics, driving initiatives that reduce environmental impact, and ensuring that the organisations’ activities align with the ESG commitments of their organisations. This not only enhances corporate reputation but also contributes to long-term value creation,” she said.

Ruth, a former CFO at Standard Chartered Tanzania, stressed that governance and compliance should remain fundamental pillars of the CFO’s responsibilities.

“In an increasingly regulated environment, CFOs must ensure that their organisations adhere to the highest corporate governance and regulatory compliance standards. This includes implementing robust internal controls, fostering a culture of ethical behaviour and ensuring transparency in financial reporting,” she concluded.

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