Happy Finance and becoming Strategic Business Partners (1/2)

Marco Venturelli3 December 2019
Happy Finance and becoming Strategic Business Partners (1/2)

I am delighted to share my thoughts on Happy Finance and Strategic Business Partnership. I was honored to be interviewed by Andrew, a recognized influencer in the field of Accounting and Finance, and be part of his podcast serie Strenght in the Numbers. #happyfinance #happycfo

Andrew Codd


I have 18 years experience in finance leadership and business partnering – developing accounting & finance talent to add value on the commercials and the numbers at recognizable brands like Pepsi, Virgin, Dell and also have a track record of driving sustainable profitable growth for local SMEs.

Our Guest Mentor:

Marco Venturelli  has over 35 years of experience in finance and accounting and currently leads Performance and Financial Strategy at Novartis where he is CFO of the Oncology Europe Region, as well as being on the CFO Board of Directors (CFO Consigliere di Amministrazione).

Marco’s career has seen him hold various roles such as Country General Manager, undertaken international assignments and led global teams. He’s also regularly commenting and contributing on LinkedIn particularly with the handles #HappyFinance and #theHappyCFO.

Marco is currently based out of Milan, Italy and also volunteers with Action Aid, looking to alleviate poverty with a constant flow of support to different programs in Africa and India.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

 “Happiness and Finance are a kind of oxymoron .” [03:09]

“What I advise to my teams and myself is that we must be adaptable. It’s more than anticipating the future which is very difficult, it’s about adapting to the future (otherwise you’ll be acted upon by markets, governments, etc…)” [08:28]

“I think we in Finance are very well accustomed to have very strong, well-structured financial reporting, that are coherent and accurate and we can really add value to our organisation facilitating this process [of reporting on ESG (Environmental, Societal & Governmental) perspectives] because I see them coming.” [13:44]

“The CFO together with the CEO is the only one in the company that has access to every area of the company and also has an understanding of the way the company functions. So if the CFO spends more time or is more involved in defining the business priorities and contributes to a clear vision of the business future it’s easier to move from a purely operational role to a strategic role.” [20:20]

“A strategic role also means that [a Strategic Business Partner] should be able to influence the others, propose simplification projects, because he has the possibility to look across various functions and more and more we see CFOs that are driving the execution of the operational excellence programs and also the technological evolution.” [21:03]

Key Points From the Episode:

  • Why sustainability is important for happier Finance and where the pressure is going from to be so.
  • How Finance are well positioned to drive better sustainability.
  • Four components that make up a Strategic Business Partner
  • The results of an internal Novartis survey asking internal customers what they would like a business partners to be and where is Finance today

Time Stamped Show Notes:

[03:09] – Why Marco uses the tag handle #HappyFinance in his posts.

[04:34] – Why sustainability is important for happier Finance and where the pressure is going from to be so.

[08:18] – We discuss why companies generally aren’t sustainable in the long run

[08:28] – And what we can do in finance to help reverse this using the Energy Industry as an example.

[09:57] – Simple steps to be more proactive on sustainability.

[10:44] – How impact investment, green bonds and public private partnerships are shaping the sustainability agenda and so are important to include in our strategic planning.

[13:44] – Marco’s thoughts on why Finance are well positioned to drive better sustainability.

[18:39] – How an understanding of the ‘circular economy’ is important to mitigate risks.

[21:03] – Suggests four components that make up a Strategic Business Partner.

[21:33] – Highlights McKinsey report where 41% of CFOs are involved in transformational and non-recurring activities.

[22:42] – Mentions an Ernst & Young survey where CEOs wanted their CFOs to be more strategic.

[22:57] – Shares the results of an internal Novartis survey asking what you would like a business partner to be and where is finance today.

[26:39] – Marco brings up the Stakeholder Analysis Grid from my Audacious Finance Partner Book and how he helps towards developing our courage behind becoming more valued business partners.

Resources Mentioned:

 by Marco Venturelli, 2017 (

“The Happy CFO: How Finance helps Society,”link

Measuring the impact of Impact Investing

The Business Value of impact measurement


Survey on CEOs expecting more from their CFOs



McKinsey report on where CFOs spending their time

“The Imperial CFO, ”link

Economist article on the influence of the CFO article

The Audacious Finance Partner: Reveals The Key Factors and Skills for Business Partnering Success

, by Andrew Codd

 by Adam Grant

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (2013),