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Real Business : Issue 2 2009
MEMBER PROFILE the Australasian operations, he has a similar country controller he can call on for advice.) He says the emerging-market countries often had by terrorists with machine guns. Th irty-fi ve people were killed and more than 160 injured. “We were 200 metres away from 220 kilos of plastic explosives. It destroyed a third of the compound,” he recounts sombrely. “When the bomb went off , we had no idea what was happening. It was one of those moments in your life where you learn a huge amount about yourself and how you react in diff erent situations,” says David, who subsequently took on, and was commended for, work that wasn’t exactly in the job description. “My job moved from being less of the CFO to making sure people feel comfortable in the environment to do their job. We had more than 100 families working for Ericsson at the time. I had to sit down with some people and have a discussion about whether this was still right for them. So, it was not what you call your traditional fi nance role.” Th en, in 2005, the head offi ce in Stockholm called and he knew he was going places. He was to work for LM Ericsson, the listed parent, which only employs around 300 people but owns the operative arm, Ericsson AB, which has more than 20,000 employees. David was one of 10 fi nance professionals in his team – the youngest by 15 years and the only non-Swede. “As a non-Swede in the corporate headquarters, I was amazed that people would actually listen to me but then I realised they were just being polite,” he jokes. He says that some of the best bosses he has ever had were in Sweden. “Th ey gave you enough rope to hang yourself but would step in before you actually did it.” His role was as a sounding board for CFOs in 18 Ericsson subsidiaries as diverse as Kazakhstan, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Korea. He recounts the joys of sitting in Khartoum Airport in Sudan at 4 am, waiting for the next fl ight to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, explaining his job was to cross-pollinate knowledge through these subsidiaries. He used his Middle East experience to assist colleagues in the North African markets and learned much from CFOs in more developed markets such as Japan, South Korea and Sweden. (As CFO of cpacareers.com.au a lot to teach more developed countries about how technology can be used. “Th ere’s a certain openness to new ways of working that you don’t get in the developed markets. So you can look at bringing some of those creative ways of doing business into the developed world,” he explains. While the technology innovation comes from Sweden, David says you can’t control how people use the technology. “It’s local and depends on the compelling events in that country. Th e way people use mobile phones in Africa, Italy, Australia and the Middle East are all diff erent,” he says, citing short dialling – where users send messages through the number of times they let the phone ring before hanging up – as one of the diff erences he’s encountered. David believes the fi nance job is easier if you have a fundamental interest in your industry. “I’m one of these fi nance people that believe if you understand the business, the numbers will make sense. You can’t look at the numbers and believe they will explain the business,” he says. Another of his roles involved determining what future Ericsson fi nance professionals would be like. “We discovered we had as many fi nance people as salespeople and wondered how that could be. Th en we started to look at how experienced fi nance professionals could work with “I WAS ENCOURAGED TO DO CPA PROGRAM. OUR HR DIRECTOR CALLS IT ‘A TICKET TO THE GAME’.” “One of the joys of my job was going to the countries and asking: ‘What’s diff erent about mobile technology here?’ You get to see amazing stuff . People use mobile phones very diff erently if they’ve not grown up with a fi xed line phone, for example.” David is quite the technology enthusiast, listing computing and technology, along with scuba diving, on his resume. “I’m a horrible early adopter,” he grimaces. “My house is full of gadgets that I’ve paid top price for, because I want to be one of the fi rst to buy them. For me, working here is like working in a toy shop.” Th e greatest change he has seen in the industry is the ability to work anytime, anywhere and talk to distant colleagues via email. “A month ago, I was in a town 1200 km north of Perth and I was able to read emails and share information with colleagues in Sweden via mobile broadband as if I were sitting in my offi ce.” salespeople, project managers and engineers to be business enablers. “Going in to our customers today, we like to present ourselves as having a point of diff erence. We are a company of fi nancial strength and have more than US$4 billion in net cash to call on. Our customers’ purchasing habits are driven by their CFOs so if they can have fi nancial conversations with us that adds a point of diff erence,” he explains. Being commercially savvy has become key to many fi nance roles in Ericsson. “When I’m looking to recruit people, I’m looking for breadth and potential to step into the commercial space,” says David. David Spong talks about unlocking potential and the value of international experience. 31 30-31_CPAProfile.Video_RB907.ind31 31 30-31_CPAProfile.Video_RB907.ind31 31 OK WITH CORRECTIONS DESIGN EDITORIAL PUBLISHER CLIENT By signing your initials in the space provided you are either approving this layout or authorising the listed changes. CORRECTIONS TO MAKE DATE OK DESIGN EDITORIAL PUBLISHER CLIENT ADVERTISING 16/07/2009 11:07:22 AM 16/07/2009 11:07:22 AM
Issue 1 2009
Issue 1 2010