" "I love that I still have a passion for learning new things even after eighteen years in the business.”

By Olivia Wing, Customer Success Manager, GENCFO

Sanja Keranovic


Dr Oetker

Throughout the changing tides of finance transformation, Sanja Keranovic has kept a sunny disposition:

“You need to be optimistic! CFOs are facing a lot of significant changes, but you need to believe in your goals to achieve them.”

We caught up with Sanja to see how she’s building a brighter future for finance, drawing on nearly two decades of career wisdom and a sprinkling of positivity for good measure.

Digital finance transformation from the top down

Sanja’s decision to switch roles to CFO of Dr Oetker after a fifteen year tenure at Delta Food Processing wasn’t one she took lightly:

“I’m not someone who likes to jump between companies so freely. But after three years with Dr Oetker I can say the decision to make a change was the right one.”

Carefully considering her career moves has allowed her ample time to put down roots in the organisations she’s worked for, and play the long game when it comes to digital transformation in finance.

“Digital transformation is a constantly unfolding topic.”

“ I’m not one for changing companies a lot, but I’m all for making changes in yourself and in your business to move with the times and welcome cutting-edge technology in finance.”

At Dr Oetker, those key catalysts for change have come from both inside and outside the organisation:

“I’m fortunate that digital finance transformation comes from the top down at Dr Oetker and is very much led by our headquarters. But on the other hand, we also have our regulators who bring in new laws that fuel the need for change.”

From throwing robotics into the mix for accounting, to taking on the mammoth task of implementing S/4HANA, Sanja’s enthusiasm for embracing the fear of finance transformation is infectious:

“People are usually scared to implement new technology in finance because it involves venturing into the unknown. But you best believe it’s the only way to make better decisions to grow your business!”

The changing role of the CFO

If you’re a current or aspiring CFO, chances are you’ll be reckoning with the fact that the role has been turned on its head in recent years.

But what makes this so undeniably challenging for finance in particular?

According to Sanja, it’s because not only has the role of the CFO done a 180, a whole new skillset is needed to match:

“Let’s be honest, CFOs aren’t exactly known for cultivating soft skills. But if we want to implement digital finance transformation we need to pay more attention to communication, not just within our own teams, but with the entire company.”

The ability to connect with any and every department in an organisation is yet another string CFOs must add to their bow:

“CFOs have to get better at communicating opportunities and risks to everyone within an organisation, to ensure there’s a universal understanding of what our goals are and how we’re going to achieve them.”

“We’re expected to identify, evaluate, communicate and implement strategic choices, drive organisational growth and lead digital finance transformation."

"No other position has changed more than the position of the CFO - it’s challenging!”

However, for Sanja, when it comes to tackling these challenges head on, it’s all about how you frame them - and she prefers a glass-half-full approach.

“It’s a highly volatile world for senior finance leaders, but I like to say the uncertainty has brought with it opportunities rather than difficulties!”

Succeeding in the future of finance

It’s no surprise, then, that Sanja credits a big part of her career success to her optimistic outlook:

“I’m a very positive person who loves life, so personally, I’ve never struggled much to find motivation to get up in the morning!”

But alongside a sunny perspective, seeing her team succeed is what drives her to achieve more for herself and others:

“Leading my team through the digital finance transformation we want to implement is one of the biggest motivators for me in business."

"I want to inspire my team and they inspire me.”

This approach is a testament to the fact that learning new things doesn’t stop when you make it to the top, according to Sanja:

“The way I see it is that there are always areas I can maximise and improve my skills. I love that I still have a passion for learning new things even after eighteen years in the business.”

Throughout the whirlwind of changes and opportunities that finance transformation brings, Sanja believes there are some things CFOs should keep in mind that stand the test of time:

“With how fast things are changing, a lot of advice you hear today may not be relevant in a year or two! But what is timeless and universal is the ability to stay focused and open-minded.

“Analyse the past but be focused on the future, and remember to always believe in yourself and the people you’re leading through change.” 

Power Profile

Who is your hero?

"I don’t believe in having a hero in business! I think it’s more important to have a mentor rather than a hero, and I have several mentors to give me a range of perspectives. It helps to be able to look at things from every angle. But in my private life, my family are my heroes. Especially my father because he showed me how to deal with difficulties in life and how to accept undesirable outcomes with dignity. He taught me that being lucky in life can only take you so far, and that it’s hard work that’s key to reaching your achievements."

What music inspires you?

"Music helps me get through difficult times and deal with difficult emotions. I listen to classical music and jazz during the working day, and pop music the rest of the time. I’m seeing Taylor Swift in concert in Vienna this year and I can’t wait! "


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Olivia Wing, Customer Success Manager, GENCFO

Olivia is an author at GENCFO as well as being the Community Success Manager. Read her articles on everything from events, agility, hot topics in finance and interviews with key finance and accounting industry figures.

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