The Financial Controlling function has changed quite significantly over the past decade. Being a number cruncher is not going to cut it anymore. The modern Financial Controller is expected to eliminate the distance between the business and Finance by taking on a business partnering role.

Nikolina Dizdar Cehulic, Chief Financial Officer at PLIVA Croatia, has been at the forefront of these changes in different financial positions. She will kick off the Financial Controlling Toolbox in Prague with her keynote presentation When Business and Finance Get Married, A Vision for Happily Ever After. 

Below you get to read more about Nikolina’s background in Financial Management and the contents of her Keynote presentation.

Before we dig into the content of your presentation, could you please share a little bit about yourself and your background?

“Of course, thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. I am a finance executive with broad experience in accounting, auditing and financial management. I started my career in Big4 (Ernst & Young), where I spent almost four years. This was a really valuable experience which helped me understand the critical impact of financial controls and process set ups in different industries. After four years I decided to leave auditing and join business, where I have held a number of roles in finance, to reach that of CFO of PLIVA Croatia. PLIVA is the biggest pharmaceutical company in Croatia and a member of the Teva Group, the leading generic company in the world.”

The topic of your key note presentation is When Business and Finance Get Married, A Vision for Happily Ever After. Could you please elaborate on what you will be presenting during the event?

“My presentation will summarize my experience over the last ten years and show how the role of finance has been changing over time, to turn into a business partnering role in my company. This is the change that takes time and requires some hygiene factors to be in place, e.g. defined processes, roles, stable systems and adequate competencies in finance to enable finance people to be recognized by business as important partners. There is a link between the company’s strong performance and the way Finance collaborates with the rest of the organization, one of the reasons why my company also decided to formalize business partnering. My presentation will describe how the organizational set up was done, the expectations of finance as business partners to add value, and the main obstacles in the business-finance marriage.”

What do you believe is the #1 takeaway of your presentation for those attending the event?

“I strongly believe that finance business partnering provides an insight needed to improve decision-making processes and that it is definitely a competitive advantage for companies that have embraced it. Like in every marriage, everyday communication with clear expectations is the key to success.”

You may have also had a chance to review the topics of your fellow event speakers. Is there a particular presentation you look forward to?

“This year’s conference really offers a number of interesting topics: from management reporting for business needs, through eliminating distance between business and finance, to behaviors for your best ever service. I must admit I am equally interested in all of them but, if I need to pick one, I would go for “Behaviors for Your Best Ever Service”. It will be great to hear which competencies and behaviors are appreciated by business leaders in other companies.”

Having attended and/or spoken at several events, what advice can you give attendees that want to make the most out of their attendance?

“To be open to new ideas, contribute to fruitful discussions, meet people and expand your network.”