5 daily habits of successful CFOs

We ask CFOs to share the daily habits that contributes to their success. By Nina Hendy.

Michelle Kvello, CFO, Lantern Partners

  1. Know how sales, marketing and operations work on a daily basis and understand their paint points
  2. Build your CFO community each day so you can always reach out to peers who have done this before.
  3. Make sure you know how your team is doing.
  4. Fill your cup. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, fine wines or family. You can’t lead a team if you’re depleted.
  5. Create blank space in the day for problem solving to allow for strategic thinking and light bulb moments.

Corman Denton, CFO, PAE New Zealand  

Cormac Denton, CFO, PAE New Zealand
  1. To get out of bed, I count 5-4-3-2-1, then get up.
  2. Then I cycle for 30 minutes before 6am and catch up on the news.
  3. Next, it’s time to focus on my two boys, get them breakfast and spend time with them, then check emails.
  4. I make dinner and read to my boys at least twice a week.
  5. I also make sure my wife has space to exercise.

James Solomons, CFO, Xref

  1. Support my team and the business.
  2. Make myself available to my team and the entire business pretty much all of my waking hours.
  3. Remove roadblocks and make sure the team has everything they need to get the job done.
  4. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to map out the next day.
  5. Read the Financial Review and The Australian to keep up with the latest world and business news.

Jenny Woodward, CFO, Douglas Partners

  1. Start the day by setting intentions, beathing exercises, visualisation and meditation.
  2. Read for 30 minutes to help with my learning and growth. I love self help books and gets me inspired.
  3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. On busy days I break that down to three 10 minute sessions, just walking around the block after lunch or before the next meeting.
  4. Each evening I journal about my day, my thoughts, goals, dreams and feelings. Anything I need to reflect on, really.
  5. I also plan the following day each night, including writing down my top three priorities, giving me clear goals.

David Holden, CFO, Brightwater Care Group

David Holden, CFO Brightwater Care Group
  1. I always walk my toy poodle first thing in the morning. It’s a great start to the day to wake up the senses and to be greeted by a consistent and appreciative furry friend.
  2. Next, I take time to catch up on the daily news headlines each morning.
  3. I use the Ivy Lee productivity method to plan and prioritise the day ahead.
  4. I check in on all my staff, both as a wellbeing check, and to get a quick view of the information I need for the day ahead.
  5. By then, I’m looking for that first sip of my morning cappuccino, which is pure joy.

Sigal Pilli, CFO, Seer

  1. I like to start the day with a bang. I’m a morning person, and like to start my day around 6.30am. I’m usually in the office before 7.30am, or if it’s the home office, it’s before 7am.
  2. Breathe. I have to consciously manage my desire to be across everything each day. I’m a detailed person and want to do everything, but that’s simply not possible in fast-moving companies.
  3. Read. I’ve always got multiple books on the go at one time. I make a point to read a mixture of books for pleasure and professional development.
  4. Look for ways to micro-learn. Now we’re spending more time in the office, I make a point of listening to podcasts during my commute to use the time wisely.
  5. Be flexible. Everything is changeable and transient, and actively maintaining this mindset helps me gain perspective and make decisions.

Rosalie Lau, CFO, Resilium Insurance Broking/Ethos Broking Australia

  1. I start every day with a brisk walk, usually listening to a finance news podcast or audio book. This daily ‘me time’ is important to me.
  2. I speak to my team each day, both about business and what’s going on in their own lives.
  3. At the end of each day, I write a list of what I want to accomplish the next day.
  4. I set aside time to focus on the day’s priorities, free of meetings, phone calls and emails.
  5. Each day, I make sure I only handle emails once. Once I read them, they are either filed, deleted or actioned. And I only leave open items in my inbox.

Mathew Tao, CFO, Carbar

  1. I always dedicate time to catch up with suppliers and meet potential hires. We’re constantly evolving and I need to set the business up for where it will be, not where we are.
  2. I have a morning stand-up meeting with the finance team to talk through the weekly numbers and projects on the go.
  3. Speak with potential investors or other startups. Now that the pandemic is diminishing, it’s important we get in front of potential investors and start building the relationship so we can tweak or business or positioning.
  4. Twice a week, I catch up with Carbar’s founders for a 9.30pm debrief to go over key issues and discuss which decisions we need to get the Board to endorse.
  5. Keep up to date with what’s happening on the news, and check the RSS feed on global leading competitors, various newsletters on Venture Capital and the startup space.

Sam Gallagher, CFO, Olinqua

  1. Meditate for 10 minutes a day.
  2. Exercise before work. It’s the fastest way to enjoy your day.
  3. Write tasks down as they arise. Note taking is the only way to keep the reins on a chaotic week.
  4. Retrospectively track the actions that lead to accomplishments or failures. It’s easy when busy to miss out on learning opportunities, so this is a priority for me.
  5. Switch off at least half an hour before sleep, and pick up a book. This is my gateway to sleep.