The F-Suite Summit of 2023 was anything but your typical finance conference. Held in the heart of San Francisco this May, it brought together an exclusive group of exceptional CFOs from across the United States under the exhilarating theme of "Seizing Opportunities, Defying Downturns."
The conference explored the challenges finance leaders face in a rapidly evolving business landscape by emphasizing four key areas: shifting business priorities, rebalancing spending, changing board dynamics, and the rapidly growing banking sector in a challenging economic climate. Sponsored by leading industry partners, including Armanino, Cooley, Ernst & Young, Merrill, Nasdaq, Newfront, Sage, and Spendflo, the summit provided CFOs and executives from various industries with valuable insights, networking opportunities, and strategies to navigate the ever-evolving challenges of today’s business landscape.
The energy in the air was electrifying from the moment the summit kicked off. CFOs, driven by their hunger for knowledge and eagerness to make groundbreaking connections, gathered at the Fisher Observatory in the iconic Exploratorium Museum of Science. The summit ignited with two powerhouse keynote speakers, Kristina Campbell, the CFO at Ripple, and Scott Stockberger, the SFO at Bolt, who took the stage to share their insights on navigating and enabling opportunities in challenging times.
The excitement continued as the summit hosted a stellar lineup of the most innovative CFOs in the world, each contributing their unique perspectives and expertise. From industry veterans to innovative thinkers such as Grace Liu, the CFO at Tango, and Sarah Blanchard, CFO at Udemy, they captivated the audience by sharing real experiences and strategies for maximizing organizational potential amidst uncertainty. Today’s CFOs often find themselves feeling like they need to say “no” to business ideas. In this discussion, the panel reframed this idea and emphasized how the job of the CFO's is actually to “yes” to the right things to enable their organizations in challenging time.
Ned Segal, former CFO at Twitter, and John Christiansen, Partner of the Global Partnership Board at FGS, were also in attendance. They discussed topics related to the CFO's relationship with the board and executive team, focusing on building and maintaining trust as influential leaders in the face of distributed teams. The wealth of knowledge present at this event extended beyond just CFO. CFOs were also paired with CEOs, providing diverse perspectives. One attendee enthused that “[they] truly enjoyed the breadth of speaker expertise and topics covered, with so many practical takeaways to strengthen a CFO's leadership."
During the break, attendees gathered for a delicious lunch with panoramic views of the Oakland Bay Bridge, where they enjoyed a delicious meal while taking in the stunning views. The energizing conversations continued as attendees networked and exchanged ideas, solidifying connections made during the earlier sessions.
In addition to the keynote sessions, attendees actively engaged in breakout sessions and intimate group discussions, providing a platform for exchanging ideas, challenges, and successes. These conversations delved into critical topics CFOs face in today's rapidly changing business environment. One roundtable discussion led by Ed Lu, CFO at Fandom, left an impression on one CFO who remarked, "...my breakout sessions were just terrific. I am new to F-Suite, and it was so great to hear the depth of the conversation and willingness to open up with others going through the same things." Ed held his discussion on “The Evolving Role of the CFO in Board, Leadership, and Employee Conversations," sparking insightful conversations.
The main stage presentations were equally enlightening. Laurence Tosi, Partner at WestCap Group, former CFO at Airbnb, and COO at Merrill Lynch, delivered a captivating keynote presentation elevating the CFO role to new heights. Tosi's deep industry knowledge provided attendees with tangible best practices for driving business success and showcased the broad skill requisites of a great CFO. His insights, authenticity, and real-world applicability left a lasting impression on all who attended and had members on the edge of their seats. Justin McAnear, CFO at 10X Genomics, also shared his expertise in navigating crises, including leveraging technology to streamline processes during his mainstage discussion on “Rebooting Your Finance Strategy.” Justin honed in on how to drive operational excellence and gave techniques for automating routine tasks and enhancing data analysis and collaboration, pulling from his experience in some sticky situations while leading finance at Tesla and Apple.
The summit concluded with a closing reception, where attendees could network and continue discussions with a view of the bay bridge. As the conversations continued, attendees expressed, "I truly enjoyed the breadth of speaker expertise and topics covered, with so many practical takeaways to strengthen a CFO's leadership." Another participant shared, "It was so great to hear the depth of the conversation and willingness to open up with others going through the same things."
The 2023 F-Suite Summit was a transformative experience that united finance leaders across the United States. It exemplified the spirit of collaboration and growth, equipping these financial leaders with valuable knowledge and connections to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape. The connections and knowledge gained at this event will continue reverberating throughout the industry, shaping its future and driving unparalleled success.