DHL Group: The 21st Century CFO

  • Leadership development
  • Learning and skills training
  • In-person product

As the global leader in logistics, with over 500,000 employees in 220 countries and territories,DHL Group plays a critical role in delivering their simple, but vitally important, purpose Connecting People and Improving Lives. 

They do this by fuelling global trade, driving prosperity, and ensuring that businesses and people deliver and receive the goods they love, want and need at the right time, to the right place, and in the right way. For the Group, doing this in a way that provides a strong, steady and sustainable return is essential. 

The challenge 

Transforming the mindset, behaviours and capabilities of 1,000 seasoned CFOs and Senior Controllers worldwide to meet the demands of an ever-changing future. 

DHL Group is committed to being the Employer, Provider and Investment of Choice within the logistics industry. It recognised that it was operating in a an increasingly complex and changing landscape, facing new and un-chartered global trends. 

In this context, their Finance function, more than any other, was and is uniquely placed to provide the critical insights to guide the business towards optimum commercial performance as a focused and more productive organisation. 

The challenge they brought us was to create an immersive learning experience that would equip the global team of seasoned 1,000 CFOs and Senior Controllers with the mindset, behaviours and capabilities to maximise value for the Group. In their words, we need you to move them from being ‘bean counters and policemen’ to influential, commercial business leaders. 

The solution 

The C21st CFO Blueprint 

In assessing the existing capabilities and development needs of the CFO/Senior Controller population, it became crystal clear that we needed to re-set their compass – sure they needed some new capabilities but more than that they needed to transform their perception of their role and contribution to the business. 

They needed to appreciate they are uniquely placed to offer a broader and stronger business leadership role that goes far beyond applying their traditional and somewhat ‘comfortable’ functional analysis of business challenges. 

So we created a development blueprint and 2-day learning experience that: 

  • Introduced the CFO Compass as a core operating model of the ‘ideal CFO/Senior Controller’ – outlining this is a CFO who balances risk with opportunity; has an intimate understanding of the business(es) they support; masterfully combines technical finance skills with people skills; effectively communicates the numbers, and what’s behind the numbers, in a way that enables them to contribute to and influence effective decision-making 
  • Highlighted all the levers that CFOs and Senior Controllers have at their disposal to influence and drive high performance across their own Finance function and the wider business 
  • Integrated the mindset and behaviours that would ensure superior delivery across the Finance function 
  • Reinforced the balance between governance and business-enabling activities in navigating business growth and long term success 

Key to signalling this was the ‘new way we do things around here’ was to lead from the top. And the most Senior Leaders of the DHL Group Finance function were up for it! They knew this was a shift that needed to happen and that they were key to its success through role modelling the new way of being. They became facilitators and were directly involved in rolling out the learning experience and they continuously monitored and drove the roll-out across the entire organisation to ensure the learning was applied and embedded back at work. 

The theme 

Managing tomorrow, today 

To make the learning stick we designed a creative theme that reinforced their role as ‘navigators’ of the future. We emphasised the importance of them using their commercial expertise to guide their colleagues business and commercials decisions today to ensure optimum commercial performance both for today, and importantly for tomorrow. 

Everything about their learning experience – the content, tools, materials, and activities were carefully combined to bring this overarching theme to life, enabling the CFOs and Senior Controllers to become the embodiment of high performing navigators within the business. 

The result 

A single unifying framework for DHL Group Finance 

The learning experience did what it set out to do – it has transformed the way the Finance function think and act – here’s what one of the sponsors of the solution had to say:

“The launch of the 21st Century CFO Certified module has been a full success. The feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly good. The model, the tools and the content have been considered as the right recipe for future success of the Finance function! Everybody who has been engaged in developing the training, facilitating and also participating to become a 21st Century CFO can be proud!” 
Dietrich Franz
DHL Group Finance Board Member

It’s always great to know the outcomes were achieved. What’s even more important is to know how the learning is shaping and becoming embedded in the business. The 21st Century CFO blueprint has become fully integrated into the Group Finance Function as simply ‘the way we do things around here’. It is being used by the Group CFO to outline the Finance Focus Agenda. 

The 21st Century CFO blueprint has become the framework for communicating strategic targets across the Finance function and to align all other learning & development frameworks and interventions across the Finance function.