Top Three Takeaways from HBJ’s Power Breakfast – “A Conversation with CFOs” Event


Last week, Houston Business Journal hosted the panel discussion “A Conversation with CFOs.” Largely focusing on financial trends and workforce development, panel members provided insight into the opportunities and challenges the industry faces. Smith’s Chief Financial Officer, Sean Evans, was a part of the panel of experts at the event. As CFO of Smith’s worldwide affiliated group of technology companies, Sean oversees the company’s global finance, accounting, tax, treasury, and credit activities. The panelists represented a wide range of sectors across the finance industry, such as human resources, education, telecommunications, technology, and oil and gas. Each panelist’s background highlighted a unique perspective on the future of the finance industry in Houston.

Here are a few key takeaways that stood out from the panel discussion:

1. Maintaining a consistently diverse and inclusive workforce is essential to company growth.

Having more representation of women and minority groups in leadership roles is a focus for many Houston-based senior executives in the finance industry. Mending the gaps caused by generational differences through professional development and training courses has spurred more diversity and inclusivity in organizations. Many of the panelists also noted that, when interviewing potential candidates, intellectual curiosity and high emotional intelligence are a couple of important qualities they consider.

2. Cybersecurity management is a game-changer for the finance industry.

As the use of data continues to grow within finance and accounting departments around the world, so does the risk of threats. Implementing proactive IT security software, equipment, and processes to safeguard companies and their stakeholders is imperative to preventing data from being accessed by unintended audiences.

3. Growth and globalization are the main challenges facing the finance industry in the next 3-5 years.

While maintaining a consistently diverse and inclusive workforce is a necessity, it is also a challenge. Trying to bring departments and groups together when team members are seated in cities worldwide poses a significant challenge for many senior executives. Working harmoniously with people of varying cultural backgrounds and addressing the U.S.-China tariffs and trade relations are also issues that global companies face.

Headquartered in Houston since 1984, Smith is a proud business leader in our community. Our foundation is bolstered by our strong company culture, professional development programs for employees, cybersecurity strategies, and global footprint, which all contributed to our being ranked the #2 largest Houston-area family-owned business on HBJ’s list. Finance is the cornerstone of Houston’s economic growth, and the industry is prepared to successfully face both opportunities and challenges in the years to come. Smith is excited to be a part of the city’s continuous evolution.

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