Laura: Welcome, Stefania. Your recently published article for the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs on navigating a slow-growth economy with agility and excellence is incredibly insightful, and we look forward to hearing more. Before we dive in, will you share some thoughts on the impact women and diverse teams have in such challenging business environments?
Stefania: Happy to! Studies consistently show that women and diverse teams outperform homogenous ones in problem-solving, creativity and decision-making. Especially amid uncertainty, a variety of perspectives is a game-changer. Women tend to exhibit strong communication, adaptability and empathy skills, which are crucial for navigating complex economic landscapes and fostering collaboration. Brené Brown said, “Only when diverse perspectives are included, respected and valued can we start to get a full picture of the world.” Tying into the article, in today’s ever-changing world, it’s more important than ever to understand the full picture to help executives navigate fast-paced change.
Laura: So true. Let’s dig into the article! One of the first things you mention is that businesses must gain a clear understanding of their cash. How have you seen our teams help clients do that?
Stefania: In a slow-growth period, especially one with rising interest rates, it’s essential for businesses to assess their cash flow and financial stability as access to capital tightens. Our teams utilize advanced analytics and financial planning tools, allowing them to assess different scenarios and identify variables impacted by a slowdown. We also help clients explore cost-reduction opportunities, such as reviewing benefit plans, insurance policies and tax-saving strategies, to generate additional cash flow.
Laura: It’s fascinating how complex data can be turned into actionable insights. How is digital innovation impacting the analysis?
Stefania: By embracing digital innovation and intelligent technologies, we help businesses streamline repetitive tasks and improve accuracy. It frees up time for strategic analysis and decision-making. By conducting thorough process reviews, we can identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and implement solutions that optimize operations. The result is increased productivity and improved performance.
Laura: Regarding workforce strategies, how do we collaborate with business leaders to achieve stronger results?
Stefania: In the post-COVID era, the demand for talent has led to the growth of outsourced and interim staffing models. Leaders are leveraging staffing businesses and professional services firms like ours to access quality staff while outsourcing certain functions. By doing so, businesses can stay focused on growth initiatives, outmaneuver competitors and enhance results.
Laura: Excellent insights! Let’s move on to risk management. In this environment, what should leaders be thinking about?
Stefania: Economic downturns often correlate with increased fraud risks, both internal and external. Leaders, together with their advisors, should intensify anti-fraud training, bolster cybersecurity measures and fortify internal controls. Things like vendor audits, evaluating procurement processes and exploring alternative inventory management strategies make a big impact on supply chain. Holistic risk mitigation strategies addressing varied challenges are important — another area where diverse teams excel.
Laura: Exploring opportunities for transformational growth, how can women and diverse teams catalyze change and become essential partners in a business’ financial journey?
Stefania: Advisors and leaders, in general, foster growth by providing guidance, support and knowledge that instill confidence. Economic uncertainty, although daunting, presents an opportunity for fresh thinking and acting with agility and excellence. Encouraging fellow leaders and clients to seize growth prospects, whether through mergers, new products or even IPOs, is essential. Add the power of diverse teams, as studies show, and you get a range of perspectives that nurture inclusivity and innovation. The ideas, combined strength in relationship-building and collaboration can be pivotal in emerging from economic uncertainty even stronger.
Laura: Thank you for shedding light on these important topics. Your insights are incredibly valuable!
Stefania: It was a pleasure speaking with you. I hope our conversation inspires more businesses to seize today’s opportunities while embracing diversity in their pursuit of success in slower economic times.
Stefania may be reached at [email protected].
Thanks to Laura Osvald, Senior Marketing Manager, Phoenix & Colorado Markets, for conducting this interview.