Javier Delgado has quite the complete global finance resumé. He began his professional career as an auditor at Ernst & Young. He then went on to fill senior roles in accounting, tax and treasury at makeup brand KIKO Milano, before eventually assuming the Head of Finance position where he was based out of New York.
In 2017, Javier took on a new adventure as Global FP&A Head at Cabify, the international multi mobility platform. In the four years since he joined, Javier has helped Cabify drive the company’s further strategic expansion in Spain and Latin America. That success has propelled him to his current position as VP of Finance, leading the global finance function.
International expansion, data complexity and economic uncertainty - just a few of the many challenges Javier has faced in his 15 years in finance. In this AHA! Finance interview, he shares how finance teams can be empowered to make an impact on the organization, by finding key finance automation tools and best practices.
What strategic role has Finance played alongside the rapid growth of Cabify since you joined 4 years ago?
Cabify has changed and grown spectacularly in Latin America and Spain in the last 4 years. In this context of high growth, the importance of showcasing the strategic nature of Finance has become essential.
The Finance team plays a huge role in the decision-making process towards a profitable, scalable and sustainable business model in all the cities we operate in. To do so, we’ve had to be agile in adapting to our ever-changing and competitive landscape. It has also been pivotal for us to play the cross-functional role that we are, very well. We add value to our employees, clients, suppliers, business partners and investors by gathering key information from all relevant parties, analyzing that with key drivers in mind, then sharing it across the organization for all leaders to make the best decisions for the company. Ultimately, I’ve seen how this has created a positive impact across the different roles of the organization.
How has your strong operational finance background in accounting, tax, financial controlling and treasury prepared you to lead the Global FP&A team?
I believe that to be an effective finance leader, you need to have a complete understanding of the business - and that comes from knowing the operational reality of the company. Those experiences have allowed me to be more reactive to make quick decisions when the situation called for it.
A complete understanding of the business is also fundamental when analyzing relevant metrics of other departments and how finance can measure their performance that relates to our growth. For example, this range has allowed me to drive the finance team to:
- Identify the best cities to efficiently allocate our resources
- Compare and analyze profitability of different business units
- Identify best practices and learn from our mistakes
On the FP&A side, it’s been critical that they feel and believe that they are the “agent of change” department. What they do is key in supporting the decision-making process and driving healthy and sustainable growth through time. It requires a lot of analysis and synergy with other business units so they need to feel that empowerment to be able to collaborate well.
What can Finance teams from other ride sharing services and mobility scaleups learn from what you’ve successfully managed to do?
The growth stage really does lead you to a path of continuous learning and improvement, and that has been true for myself and the whole Finance team.
On the human side, I would highlight the commitment and growth mindset that members of the team have demonstrated facing a challenge of such magnitude. The mentality of becoming strategic partners by adding value is inherent in the people of this exceptional team. There is the conviction that the information we generate does drive value and we know we have to do that part well if we want to generate trust with the other departments.
At the same time, I always remind them to be open-minded to change. That comes from different things, whether that’s adopting financial automation tools or changing processes to make us more efficient. That mindset has to come from above and leaders in my position should promote that across all levels.
Here are some insights that can be useful:
- “Financial information has to be concise, useful and available in due time and manner” → Eliminate reports that add no value and impact
- “The ability for analysis is infinite. The key is where you put your focus” → Be in constant dialogue with the business
- “The past allows us to predict the future and avoid making the same mistakes.” → Think about the future and take smart actions
- “You don’t plan failure, you fail by not planning.” → Devise action plans and establish precise mechanisms to measure results and evaluate them
All this makes more sense as Cabify is an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable company. It is attached to the UN Global Compact, stands out for betting on talent and the local ecosystem, generating high-value jobs and declaring 100% of its activity in each country. In 2018 it became the first carbon-neutral platform in its sector, since then it has globally compensated its emissions and those of its passengers, and complies with an annual reduction commitment.
Is there a process you wish you implemented earlier on that would have helped you better manage the complexity of strategic finance today?
The industry of mobility and ride hailing deals with huge volumes of data, and of different kinds. How we treat and organize that data has a huge impact on how we derive decisions. In our early years, we did most of the work of data management and reporting in spreadsheets, but this did not allow us to analyze data with agility and precision.
What has been key for our strategic finance - and something I wish I had done earlier in our evolution - was adopting Abacum as a financial planning tool. It has solved our data automation tasks and given us more time for proper analysis. It has helped us carry out our tasks efficiently and made us more agile in growing and scaling our business. We are able to focus our efforts on scaling and expansion of our business, especially in international markets.
Further, we realized that it was not only about a finance automation solution that makes our lives easier. Communication and working cooperatively with the other areas within the company has been just as pivotal for us, and we do that really easily in Abacum. Financial planning solutions that make that happen are very valuable for the mobility industry, and any other industry for that matter.
What is your advice to people in similar FP&A leadership positions that want to take that next step to CFO or Head of Finance?
From my perspective, building relationships based on trust and transparency is key, both with your finance team and the other teams of the organization. I have always believed in the importance of surrounding myself with brilliant people - even better if they are more brilliant than myself - who have a positive attitude, have passion for what they do, and are open to change.
For those in Finance and looking to grow in their roles, mastering data analysis tools and pushing for digitization and automation are key and great objectives. But always remember that, at the root of it all, it is about adding more value and having a positive impact to the people of the organization.
Take the next step and start building a more collaborative finance function the same way Javier did at Cabify.
With Abacum, we empower finance teams to become true strategic partners in the organization by driving time-to-insight with powerful automation and seamless collaboration. Request a demo now to see the product live and start your own journey.
AHA! Finance is Abacum’s interview series where we speak to finance thought leaders on all topics finance. Want to be interviewed or have an interesting topic in mind? Send us a suggestion at firstname.lastname@example.org.