While the roots of a CFO may be in the finance world, today’s evolving CFO must be a multi-functional leader, deeply involved with everything from operational considerations to the company’s go to market strategy — the complete business cycle.
Within today’s rapidly growing tech and digital space, Brad Whittfield has emerged as one such multi-faceted leader. Brad has spent over 15 years specializing in the digital sector. His most recent involvement in his role as Group CFO has always underpinned something much more strategic for the business — ranging from providing leadership in a period of hyper-growth or digital transformation through to M&A, capital raising and IPOs.
Through his time working in Corporate Finance within the Big 4 and more recently within industry, Brad has developed an impressive track record in his ability to help navigate a business through a major transition or evolution. He has advised or helped companies in navigating the M&A deal cycle, capital raising (both debt and equity), IPOs and corporate or financial restructuring.
“During my time working in Corporate Finance and specializing in Private Equity, I was able to assess a large number of businesses. Deal cycles are generally quite short – so you do learn to quickly identify and analyse the value drivers”. On the M&A side, Brad has been involved in over 100 transactions on both the buy and sell-side. This unique background has given him the ability to look beyond numbers and more towards valuation creation – recognising the need to constantly revisit business models in what is a very fast-moving sector.
Given his background, Brad likes to keep an eye on the level of investment into an industry as an indicator of market potential. “I do spend time looking at the deal activity globally.” This enables him as CFO to approach the business both from an operational perspective and also from a valuation creation perspective – which is of paramount importance to investors (both existing and potential). “But I don’t just look at deal activity in isolation – I look at a number of things—how are companies evolving their business models, how are they approaching and leveraging changes in technology and adjusting to the evolving nature of customer behavior. It’s part of the learning process.” adds Brad.
According to Brad, a data-first strategy is key to making the work of a CFO streamlined. “For me, it is less about the actual technology and more about the effective use of that technology and ability to collect, extract and interpret meaningful data,” says Brad. “It is this ability that enables the business to have a robust and informed decision-making process which based on facts as opposed to gut feelings and speculation. This data-first strategy is quickly becoming the foundation for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning”.
Brad’s numerous milestones in the digital and tech space include advising on a number of tech transactions such as early investors into Souq.com which was later acquired by Amazon. He was one of the initial team members which launched the rapidly growing noon.com in the Middle East (working with the digital payments arm of the noon.com group). Brad was also the Global CFO of Fidor. (one of the first moving and most innovative digital banks), and supported Fidor through its international expansion following the company’s acquisition by BPCE (the second-largest banking group in France). Presently, he is the Group CFO and Executive Board member of the Mondia Group, which is a global leader in delivering technology and extensive digital content and digital services to its customers. Mondia currently has a global reach of over 1 billion people across 48 countries. In addition, Mondia Pay (Mondia’s fintech and direct carrier billing platform) is one of the fastest growing.
“DIGITAL SUCCESS IS ALL ABOUT GIVING END USERS WHAT THEY REALLY WANT.”
Brad’s role models include some of the people that he has worked with which include H.E. Mohamed Alabbar (Chairman of Emaar – the company responsible for building the tallest building in the world and Founder of noon.com); Matthias Kroner (one of the pioneers of digital banking and one of the founding fathers of ‘fintech’) and Dr. Amadeo Rahmann (founder and CEO of the Mondia Group). “These people are entrepreneurs. It is their drive and work ethic which I admire the most. A focus and energy level which you can really sense,” says Brad. “My advice to the future CFOs is to ensure you develop a work ethic which makes you dependable well beyond reporting the numbers. Especially in the tech space, pride yourself on your ability to support your business to execute and execute quickly. ”