Evaluating risk

"This programme              hits home that you      need to question everything."

Geoff Hollis

CFO, Victory Offices
Participant on the Financial Strategies for Value Creation Programme

Geoff Hollis steve crop 1440x900

Finance brought to life

"Professor Henri Servaes is fascinating. He has a really impressive and unique way of delivering content that can otherwise be quite dry."

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Key to my ongoing professional career

"Doing training is a good chance to step out of the day-to-day and really think about how you approach things. I’m an ex-auditor by background and was trained to ask “why” but this programme was a great reminder to me that you need to question every step and really delve into the decisions you are making.

I was having a career break after eight years of working for a listed company and wanted to do some studying – although not for too long a stretch as I have a young family. For my next job, I wanted to go to a small company on an IPO path with a high-growth story and that’s why I chose this programme – it’s a real “growth mindset” type of programme; refreshing your thinking.

In my work life I had touched on maybe 30 per cent of the programme content in terms of actually experiencing it – things like capital raisings, debt raisings, shareholder payout policies. I knew about other topics from previous studying but I still walked away from this programme with far greater knowledge and practical understanding.

Fortunately, after the programme, I got exactly the role I wanted as CFO for Victory Offices in Melbourne. We offer flexible workspaces through serviced offices and a bit of co-working space as well. We are going through an IPO at the moment and I’m hopeful the business will grow at quite a fast pace, so there will be plenty of opportunities to start thinking about the adequate capital structure and some things that were to the fore in the programme.

A lot of university degrees are very theoretical, particularly in finance and accounting, and it was so refreshing to have such a practical course. The programme was just as much about what not to do – as what to do – which was really well explained with practical case studies of large corporations.

We analysed some big M&A deals. On paper they might look successful enough but when you strip them down they often haven’t created the value that could have been created if you had used the capital in another way. I think everyone on the programme was left with a questioning mindset: Why do a merger? Why do an IPO? Would share buybacks be a better option?

Professor Servaes has a great style. There’s no doubt he’s an expert at what he does. He knows how to keep a class engaged – when to back off a little and when to put the accelerator on. He’s extremely intelligent but also extremely personable and that’s a very rare mix, which is probably why he’s so successful.

The course materials were fantastic. I’m never normally big on course materials and writing notes during lectures as I find that I very rarely go back to look at them, but this time it’s certainly on my agenda to return to the notes, as and when I need them, because they were that valuable.

If I think back to my university days and my chartered accounting course it was all about passing exams but the things I’ve learned here are relevant for my work and ongoing professional career. Courses that provide that are hard to find. I walked away from the programme thinking that the value proposition was there, which is a hard thing to deliver when you’ve paid for the course yourself and travelled all the way from Australia to attend it!"

Valuable insights

"I had no doubt that I would use a lot of the learning, it was a very worthwhile use of my time."

Deep learning

"You can read a lot of books, do other kinds of study, but something like this is intensive – you are away from your job, your family, and are just there to study. It’s invaluable."

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Why upskilling matters

"From a CFO’s perspective, my sense is that the scrutiny on decision-making is far greater than it used to be. The risks associated with being a company director are greater. So you can’t run a company without trying to upskill. You should always be looking to upskill in some shape or form.

If you go back five to ten years there were a lot of company directors and probably CEOs who didn’t have great financial literacy.

Today’s climate is more litigious. There are a lot more class actions from shareholder groups coming after companies for doing the wrong thing. You can’t sit around the boardroom table and not quite understand what’s going on any more – or not ask a question because you don’t want to let people know that you don’t know. It’s all down to risk management – people have to manage their own risks now.

A lot of companies can be amazingly strong and successful businesses but they try to grow too quickly, or they don’t think of the risk associated with certain transactions – whether it is an M&A deal or opening new sites organically.

It’s not just about what is successful but also what not to do – and that ties into managing the risks.

If you are on a board of directors or part of a management team, it’s crucial to be able to actually understand the risks and question them."

Financial Strategies for Value Creation

Learn to create value through funding options, risk management and restructuring strategies.