The Finance Futurists are an elite group of leaders who embrace constant evolution as a necessity in the ever-changing world of finance.
More than number-crunchers, these leaders represent a new era for finance—one defined by a shift from pure analytical expertise to emotional intelligence and strong communication skills as well. Here, we spotlight one of this year’s futurists, Magdalena Kosior-Molloy, CFO at Holman Webb Lawyers, and what she believes the future holds for the finance function.
With more than 15 years of financial management experience and expertise, Magdalena Kosior-Molloy is widely recognised for her thought leadership and strategic business counsel. In her seven years at Holman Webb Lawyers, she’s transformed the finance function into one that not only serves an advisory role to the business, but also builds, motivates, and manages high-performing teams.
We recently chatted with Magdalena regarding her role as a trusted advisor in her organisation, how her team is using technology to grow and progress, and her stance on female empowerment in the corporate space.
When and how did you start your career in finance? Why did finance appeal to you at the start of your career, and why does it appeal to you now?
Magdalena Kosior-Molloy: I like problem solving. I’ve always enjoyed maths and numbers, and when I moved to Australia, I knew I wanted to be in business. While I was studying in Poland, I was also working, and the hands-on experience really helped me with my studies. I wanted to provide recommendations and become a trusted advisor to management.
How have you adapted to COVID-19 and its economic impact?
MK: At the onset of COVID-19, all of the trends we saw in the last few years became irrelevant overnight. In a crisis situation, it’s like driving without a map – there’s no manual on how to navigate a pandemic. We had to start reporting more frequently and put more information together, faster, to give the board more certainty. We had to analyse trends to provide comfort, and encourage people to be more proactive than reactive.
It’s easy to fall into a reactive way of doing things. But because of the trust bestowed upon me as a CFO, we were able to plan properly and be in a much better position than other firms. And not just financially – we saw resilience in staff engagement, branding, and digital transformation.
Throughout the pandemic, other executives have looked to finance for recommendations. When COVID-19 came to a head back in March, the ideas we put forward were accepted and put into action much faster because we had done the groundwork and established trust between finance, the executive team, and the board – they knew what we had done in the past and they could trust us.
How have you worked to incorporate impactful technology into the finance department at Holman Webb Lawyers?
MK: My current team and I encountered so many changes in both the last 12 months and 16 weeks. But adapting quickly to these changes is part of the team’s DNA. We’re driving systems and new processes between tech, HR, IT, and marketing – and there are no questions about why we are integrating new technologies into the business workflow. The team knows that by working this way, they’re growing and progressing.
In a post-pandemic world, how do you see the role of the CFO evolving?
MK: The CFO is moving into a more strategic role. It’s become a trusted advisor to the board and the CEOs. Besides possessing the technical skills, we understand the business drivers and the trends, and we can use this knowledge to be more proactive in making recommendations.
What’s the initiative or accomplishment you’re most proud of during your career?
MK: I’m big on seeing people grow through small, continuous changes and taking the business on a journey. I’m most proud that we’re recognised as trusted finance advisors and people no longer see us as “back office” – they see us as valuable additions helping to drive their revenue.
I also want to share my story of what’s possible and help other female finance leaders – that would mean the most to me. We are hesitant to put ourselves forward – we have families and other commitments, and there’s a lack of visibility of the stories of other females who went through that. I used a coach, personal branding, and I leaned on others for support. I feel strongly about sharing my story, so if I can empower one person to put themselves forward then I’m happy.