719: Achieving New Finance IT Synergies | Madhu Ranganathan, CFO, OpenText


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The aspiration to become a CFO was always there,” says Madhu Ranganathan, executive vice president and chief financial officer of OpenText, a leader in information management based in Waterloo, Ontario. “I just didn’t know what the journey would look like.”

Along the way, Ranganathan says, she learned that while technical acumen remains critical to a successful career, collaboration and a commitment to understanding business operations is what has ultimately propelled her leadership journey.

Ranganathan launched her career as a public accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC and then moved to Liberty Mutual Financial Services. “I did make the decision very consciously to say, ‘I would like to explore multiple industries throughout my career,’” she notes. She also wanted to gain ownership of a business’s financial performance rather than remain in an advisory role.

After a stint as vice president and corporate controller with Redback Networks, Ranganathan moved to CFO positions with Rackable Systems, and [24]7.ai. As part of her journey, Ranganathan studied the careers of other successful CFOs. Collaboration had often been at the core, she observes.

While CFOs must remain independent custodians of their companies’ plans, they also need to acknowledge the business leaders’ command of their operations and work toward a solution that’s a win for the organization. “The word ‘collaboration’ has never been more important,” Ranganathan reports.

Aspiring CFOs also need mentors who will acknowledge their qualifications and experience and guide them toward their goals, Ranganathan says.

“Do your homework, understand the business, and read about the products and solutions,” she advises. When collaborating with other departments, be prepared, be respectful, set clear expectations, and allow others to hold you accountable, Ranganathan continues, as doing so fosters a similar response from the business side. “That’s really where collaboration happens,” she adds.

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