Ten Minutes Talking Tech with a CFO!

Talking Tech with Kim Jeanneret, CFO > BioPak

For this week’s edition of ‘Ten Minutes Talking Tech with a CFO‘, I had the pleasure of connecting with Kim Jeanneret, the CFO of BioPak Pty Ltd, a pioneering, market leading Australian business, in the compostable food packaging industry. Kim shared her insights on capitalising on the latest finance innovations and the role of technology in driving strategic growth.

A Trailblazer in Leveraging Technology

Kim has long been an avid believer in the power of technology to drive better business outcomes. As highlighted in a 2021 interview with CFO Magazine, she demonstrated her forward-thinking approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges faced by BioPak, Kim’s team could seamlessly transition to remote work thanks to the cloud-based NetSuite system.

“Everything was still at my fingertips. I could get access to real-time data,” Kim explained, emphasizing the importance of having an adaptable and flexible system in place. This enabled her to closely monitor sales patterns, identify potential issues, and foster closer relationships with customers through automated alerts and personalized outreach.

Recent Tech Trends Impacting Finance

Building on her early adoption of technology, Kim has continued to capitalise on several notable trends within the finance sector and continues to watch closely for new developments which she can leverage at BioPak. Kim noted that automation and artificial intelligence (AI), whilst buzz words in the industry have played a pivotal role in eliminating or partially eliminating data entry, allowing finance professionals to focus on more meaningful tasks. In addition automation and AI has also enabled teams to complete tasks faster but also helped them complete tasks they may have previously struggled with.

At BioPak, Kim and her team have embraced several technological advancements to enhance their finance operations. As we heard in 2021, one of the key tools they’ve adopted is NetSuite, which serves as their central source of truth for financial data. Additionally, they leverage the power of Power BI and Excel for advanced reporting and analysis. In the AI space, the use of predictive AI to uncover trends in sales and purchasing which may have otherwise been missed is proving to be of benefit to the business

Outlook on AI, Blockchain, and RPA

Looking ahead, Kim believes that emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, and robotic process automation (RPA) will continue to shape the future of finance. These advancements present exciting opportunities for finance leaders to streamline processes, enhance data-driven decision-making, and unlock new avenues for growth.

“AI and RPA have the potential to revolutionize finance operations, but their successful integration requires a strategic approach,” Kim emphasizes that as a B Corp, Biopak has a focus on people, planet and profit. But the technology employed could make the assumption that profit is the sole goal and deliver outputs that do not take into account all of their organisational objectives. “With the current wave of AI still in its infancy with respect to how it can be applied to solving broader finance problems, there may and will be a need for customisation”.

Advice for Peers on Implementing New Technologies and Processes

When it comes to integrating new technologies like AI into finance operations, Kim stresses the importance of taking a thoughtful and measured approach. “First and foremost, you must clearly define your objectives and desired outcomes right from the start. These will serve as your guide rails throughout the implementation process. Don’t make assumptions about the technology – thoroughly test and validate to ensure the actual outcomes are what you need”.

Kim notes that robust governance and compliance frameworks are important safeguards as these frameworks will evaluate the outputs from AI and other technologies. “You can never just say ‘the AI told us’ and blindly accept recommendations without applying human oversight and scrutiny. These technologies are tools to augment and inform your decision-making processes, not replace them entirely”.

Technology integration is an iterative journey, not a one-time event. Kim advises steering clear of a “set and forget” approach. Continuous monitoring and refinement are necessary to maintain strategic alignment and adapt to evolving circumstances. “We must be continually assessing and adapting our approach to ensure any new technology implemented aligns with our strategic objectives.”

Current Economic Sentiment

Despite the tough economic conditions globally, Kim is positive yet realistic. She believes the push for eco-friendly packaging will continue to help Biopak and its peers grow, but knows businesses need to tighten belts and adapt if conditions worsen.

Key CFO Takeaways >

Enable Business Continuity: Leverage cloud-based systems and real-time data access to enable business continuity and agility.

Automate with Governance: Embrace automation and AI to eliminate mundane tasks, but ensure proper governance and human oversight.

Leverage Advanced Analytics: Adopt advanced reporting and analysis tools to gain deeper data insights.

Stay Ahead of Emerging Tech: Monitor emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, and RPA for potential to revolutionize operations.

Define Clear Tech Objectives: When implementing new tech, clearly define objectives upfront as guideposts.

Tech Integration Journey: Approach tech integration as an ongoing journey, continuously assessing and adapting.

Kim’s Current Tech Stack at BioPak:

Industry: Compostable Food Packaging

Size: Medium

General Ledger & ERP: NetSuite

Reporting & Analysis: Power BI, Excel

Payroll: NetSuite

HRIS: NetSuite

CRM: Monday

Automation Tools: NetSuite

Month End: NetSuite & Excel