Radmila Miletic started as an accountant. Within a few years, she has worked her way up to a successful Chief Executive Officer. In a short interview she described her job and what brings her inspiration.
By Boris Slesar
You have an inspirational story to share.You started as an accountant and worked your way up to a successful CFO. Tell us, was it always your dream to work in the world of Finance?
I believe that my entrance into the world of finance wasn’t the result of any great ambition or dream of mine. Even when I was supposed to pick a faculty after I graduated high school, studying Economics wasn’t my first choice. I’m inclined to say that the success I had in this profession has been the result of the values I carried with me, which were part of my upbringing and growing up. Maybe I wasn’t taught to be driven by my dreams and intuition, but some other personality traits have been crucial for any success I have achieved in my career so far. I believe that my biggest qualities in work have always been exceptional understanding and consistent compliance with the laws and regulations, fair treatment of company’s assets, as well as precision in work. It turned out later that these qualities are highly regarded in finance and accounting. Come to think of it, I believe that this profession has chosen me, rather than the other way around.
“Instead of the logic of “I’m waiting for an opportunity to develop my skills”, I would advise young people to work on skills which would inevitably lead them to bigger opportunities.
What skills should every CFO cultivate in order to be successful?
That is an excellent question that I will touch upon during my presentation at the Financial Controlling Toolbox. What is important -and what I will try to pass on to my colleagues- is that skills are very important for advancing in any type of career. However, trying to master your skills can become a very long and grueling process, and it is often not clear which particular skills you might need at a job of your choosing. That is why many people give up on developing their skills, and when an opportunity presents itself at a workplace that can lead to promotion, they are not ready to seize it. Instead of the logic of “I’m waiting for an opportunity to develop my skills”, I would advise young people to work on skills which would inevitably lead them to bigger opportunities. As an example, a few years ago I felt the need to work on my public performance and to further develop my presentation skills. After I started the learning process, suddenly I was being invited to take part in conferences, and everything I learned I could already apply, I gained new experiences and acquaintances. Learning and developing your skills can lead to rewards and business opportunities. I have learned that a myriad times. As far as my career is concerned, what has been most helpful is learning communication skills, the art of recognizing and understanding the interests of other people and, the skill of negotiating. Depending on the type of your personality and your work surroundings, the sets of skills critical to advance differ.
A Financial Director needs to be inspired in order to perform their job successfully. What is the source of inspiration for you?
Many people are prejudiced when it comes to my occupation. They believe it can be uninspiring and monotonous, and that it is all about laws and procedures. Many times it can be, but I find it to be creative because, to solve the problems, you need to have the knowledge of many different areas and systems. To be a successful CFO, you need to have the expertise, experience in how to solve complex issues, a rational approach. You need to be perceptive of all the elements in the system, be able to identify all the different risks and quantify their effects, as well as constantly focusing on finding optimal solutions in reasonable time frames. When you put all these things together so they can contribute to the successful functioning of the system and when you can recognize your own contribution to the
process, then it becomes the source of inspiration to create further. I am pleased that I was able to define my work as creative rather than just consuming the company’s resources.
Another important source of inspiration for me is the process of transferring my knowledge and experiences to those who are willing to learn. It is the path I have been on, together with my career as a CFO. I’m sure that being a mentor to financial experts that have just started their careers and have a great future ahead of them will be rewarding for me, as a person and as an expert. That is why I am genuinely looking forward to meeting all of them at your conference. I see it as a great responsibility for me, but also as a source of great inspiration and joy.