An Interview with CFO Aniello D’Ascoli of Dassault Systemes K.K.
Heading Up Finance in Japan
Morgan McKinley had the unique privilege of sitting down with CFO of Dassault Systemes (French 3D software company) Aniello D’Ascoli for an interview on what it’s like being the head of finance for a large global company here in Japan.
Firstly, thank you for joining us today Aniello. I would like to get straight into it, I know you have been a CFO for quite some time, what are your thoughts on a CFO’s role?
Well, I think being a CFO is very different depending on the company. Sometimes it’s close to sales so it depends. What I consider important for a CFO to be able to do is match the right people with the right skills for the right issues or jobs. They must be able to having both the technical skills in accounting/ finance but also the people skills. That’s what makes a CFO different from just a finance professional doing only his work. They will need to work well with sales side. However, what’s most important is to make sure finance is clean/ correct. We have to protect the company’s assets and make sure we are ensuring profit through transactions. I completely agree, being a leader in finance is not only being able to do technical work, but also having the communication/ people skills to make the most effective/ efficient team that can add true value by working cohesively.
What do you think are the challenges for a non-Japanese CFO to work in Tokyo?
Language will always be the biggest limitation. The more localized the company is, the harder or more difficult it will be to make effective decisions or do a job at maximum potential because there will be contracts needed to be screened and integrated, work with sales people which most of them don’t speak English at many times. Also, since the Japanese culture is unique, way of engaging in communication will be different compared to a different country especially Western type environment.
Miscommunication can happen when two people are from the same country or speak in the same language, I can see that miscommunication can be more prone when different people from different culture communicate.
What are some of the trends you see in accounting and finance in Japan?
Generally speaking I see some more internationalization and more people from Japan studying abroad. The amount of English being used by workers and the general public is increasing. In terms of Accounting/ Finance, I see more companies transitioning their accounting standards to international like IFRS.”
What about in terms of skills sets, what do you consider important for a junior accountant to have in general?
It really depends on the job itself, what kind of position, etc. but I think revenue recognition is important. In general, expertise in an industry such as manufacturing would require stocks or inventory, as opposed to companies with no products. I would also say theoretical skills/ knowledge is also important because they would understand faster about the job and how to do it.
What advice would you give to junior professionals who specialize in Accounting/ Finance that have ambition to become a head of finance or CFO in the future?
Being technical is always necessary, hands on is more advantageous. I know there are some CFO’s out there that are not really hands on, but I’m very hands on because it’s better to know what’s happening in the business as well.
How would you sum up finance in three words?
Trust my numbers. That’s finance. Investors want to know if the numbers are correct or not if they want to invest in a company. By looking at the numbers, I can see what’s actually happening.
What do you enjoy most about being finance professional?
I have the chance to get a good understanding of a business and learn more about why it’s happening in this way. I get to see everything from the good to the bad and that’s what makes my job interesting. It’s crucial to go beyond posting of numbers. It’s important to take a step further and see what measure can be taken to add value to the company by looking past numbers.