Table of Contents:

  1. Essential competencies that modern finance leaders need to possess to effectively serve as strategic partners.
  2. Finance leaders leveraging analytical tools to forecast financial trends and make smarter moves
  3. Young women navigating the finance workforce
  4. Summary & Conclusion 


The financial landscape is evolving rapidly, driven by a surge in the adoption of more innovative tools and automation. We delve into the impact of technology on financial decision-making, exploring the challenges and opportunities it presents. In this episode of the Optimize show, we feature Nicole Jordan-Dahdal, the Vice President of Finance at Clovers, a people-first hiring intelligence platform, hosted by David Kim, account executive at Spendflo. Nicole is a finance executive with a strong track record in leading Finance and HR at high-growth startups, spearheading strategic initiatives and driving profitability. 

Themes of Discussion 

David: What are some of the essential competencies that modern finance leaders need to possess to effectively serve as strategic partners?

Nicole: Historically, CEOs,  CFOs and finance leaders have often come from a CPA and accounting background. Today, I'm seeing more of a shift towards a strategic finance or an FP&A background of these executives that really help set the vision, not just for the finance team, but for the entire financial strategy of the organisation. I think finance leaders are going to need to have a really deep understanding of operations of the business too and, obviously, strong relationships with the rest of the executive team.

Usually, they have teams to lead, so they need to have strong leadership skills. For me having an understanding of the basics of accounting is crucial. I really do think we're seeing the shift towards Finance Leaders having a deep strategic and operational understanding of the entire business and then leveraging that into the financial strategy. Also, having a really good controller to be sure that the accounting side is really well put together.

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David: How are finance leaders leveraging analytical tools to forecast financial trends and make smarter moves? Has it helped you personally in financial predictions and risk management? 

Nicole: Yeah. Absolutely. There's been a recent surge of financial forecasting tools out there over the last few years and I'm sure they have a lot of value. I'm a really big fan of Excel. If you build your models right, it really doesn't require that much manual effort at the end of each month to update actuals or to reforecast things.

At Clovers in particular, we're a relatively small company, so we don't have a ton of extra tools that we use. In fact, I'm a really big believer that software costs can really quickly run away from you. 

So particularly for the finance team, I really have to be able to justify what I'm spending money on. So for me, it's Excel for forecasting. I think, especially in the SaaS side of things, revenue is crucial. It's what can be one of the more challenging things to forecast. We use Maxio for our revenue recognition and invoicing. They really allow us to get a really solid grasp on our current customers, and then it allows us to forecast much easier. And then QuickBooks, you know, something from an accounting perspective.  You gotta be able to track actuals in order to forecast. So something like QuickBooks online, makes me a big fan. Been using it for a while, and I also am a really big believer in Salesforce.

I love Salesforce. I don't think you can get a really good track or forecast of revenue without having a solid understanding of your pipeline. Storing it in a tool like Salesforce is one of the best ways in my opinion. So you really want a tool that can not be that expensive, cover all your bases, and have a really good ROI.

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David: As more women are joining the finance industry, what do you have to say to young women navigating the finance workforce?

Nicole: The first thing that I would say is we need you.  We know that finance has historically been dominated by men, And, honestly, having women in the field just helps bring new perspectives and new ideas to the table, and it's really important. Second, Shirley Krishall once said, if they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. 

And I really believe that there are respectful and appropriate ways to do this. And speaking to women, I encourage you to fight for your right to be at the table.  Even if it means you're not allowed to speak in that meeting, that's fine. There have been a lot of meetings I've gone to, and I've been like, I promise I won't speak.

Just let me be here. Let me just listen. Let me learn. And they were really important for my career. Third, having thick skin will get you far.

Just being honest. Like, always assume the best of people, and just don't let comments people make impact you. Keep pushing forward and do your best no matter what. And the fourth pointer would be,  in that same vein, seek out feedback. 

You may not always think the feedback is accurate or fair, but you get to be the judge of whether you take it and apply it. And I think having thick skin will give you the ability to absorb the right feedback and reject the wrong feedback. So those are kind of the main things that I would say to women, but most importantly, we need you. And if you think that if you really like it, but you think you're not good enough or you don't have the skill, I have dyslexia. So I have dyslexia specifically with numbers, which has been a lot of fun being in finance.

But, like, there are tools that help you. Like, if you think you're not good enough or if you think something prevents you, it doesn't. There are ways to work around it and ways to do it. If you love it, stick with it and keep going, and you're gonna be successful if you just push forward.

Summary & Conclusion 

In this episode of The Optimize Show, we dive into the dynamic world of technology and financial decision-making with Nicole Jordan-Dahdal, Vice President of Finance at Clovers. Nicole discusses the evolving role of finance leaders, emphasizing the importance of strategic acumen and operational insight that go beyond traditional accounting skills.

She highlights the power of analytical tools like Excel, Maxio, and QuickBooks for forecasting and financial management, advocating for thoughtful software investments. Nicole also shares valuable advice for young women entering the finance field, encouraging resilience, assertiveness, and a commitment to self-improvement, even when faced with challenges like dyslexia.

Nicole's insights underscore the significance of embracing technological advancements while fostering diversity and inclusivity in finance. It's an inspiring conversation that sheds light on the future of finance leadership and offers practical wisdom for aspiring finance professionals. 

Anjali Bodempudi
Marketing Associate
Karthikyan Manivannan
Head of Visual Design
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