Sanjay Galal’s path to becoming a Finance Manager at SYSPRO was set out for him when he received a bursary from EY whilst still at school.

This provided him the opportunity to do his articles and study towards becoming a CA. He has held senior roles including Head of Strategy, FD and MD which led him to go back into the more commercial finance role that he currently holds at SYSPRO in Global Software Technology. For Galal, the biggest challenges are balancing sales enablement with financial control and risk.

“By nature I am a business minded individual who always looks to enable a sale, but have the foresight to ensure we manage our risk and it makes financial sense for the business.

He says one of the big challenges he faces in an entrepreneurial environment is to balance this to corporate structure. “My biggest opportunity is to use my diverse skills and background to add value in varying areas of operations, finance and strategy across a business that has been operating in the same way since its inception in 1978.

“Given the nature of the technology industry and specifically the complex nature of software, there is always opportunities to innovate and this keeps me stimulated and driven to do things better each day in helping the business to gain competitive advantage.

Galal says he engages with colleagues from differing industries and always looks for different perspectives in order to learn and improve the way that things are done in their industry.

“There is always room for improvement and no matter what the industry or maturity levels, other views are always beneficial.

On South Africa’s role in the financial world:

We have first class skills and eco-systems in South Africa and this presents opportunities on our continent where we can contribute hugely to setting standards, says Galal.

“There is always room for improvement and no matter what the industry or maturity levels, other views are always beneficial.”

 “Globally we are rated highly in terms of banking systems, governance and controls and this will always be our opportunity to contribute.”

He says for companies who want to invest in South Africa, the current economic climate doesn’t allow for much growth in the short term to medium term. “However, the opportunities I see are two-fold: One is to export services and the second is for foreign investments in discounted local assets for future growth. Investments in South Africa will always be of a solid nature in terms of returns but the political situation and other issues are not attracting investment as previously. The local and global market conditions also don’t help, given the volatility and unpredictability for investors.”

Nevertheless, Galal says it would always be the aim to encourage international companies to invest in South African companies in the technology sector, given the nature of technology and its role in the world today.

“The amount of disruptive technology success stories is pushing us to innovate continuously and move rapidly in our space, given that SYSPRO is a global business.”

On the changing role of the CFO:

“I think the CFO role has already changed and moved on from traditional accountant-type requirements to something evolutionary. The role of the CFO is now a multi-disciplinary one where it is necessary to be well versed in all areas of the business and provide the custodianship function to protect the business from risk. Technology is more necessary than ever and adoption is critical in helping the CFO to become nimble in decision-making and to lead innovation.”