Fawad Hayee: From Number-Crunching to Business Partnering

Fawad Hayee has joined Global Food Industries’ (GFI) and International Beverage and Filling Industries’ (IBFI) new management team as Chief Financial Officer in August 2020.

Fawad moved to the UAE at the young age of 10 and has fond memories of the STAR beverages brand while growing up and during his school days in Dubai. Today, he is among those tasked with leading GFI and IBFI towards a new and ambitious growth vision.

While relatively new to the Food & Beverage industry, Fawad is well-educated and well-trained in the field of Accounting and Finance. After having earned his degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Manchester in the UK, he joined EY London as a graduate trainee and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2011. In 2015, Fawad joined Omnicom Media Group (OMG) in London as a Financial Controller and then later moved back to the UAE in 2018 as Regional Financial Controller for MENA at OMG’s offices in Dubai.

“The role of finance has completely evolved,” Fawad says. “In the recent past, finance was all about number-crunching, reporting, acting as a support function. Today, as is also the vision set by Albatha Group, Finance has quickly evolved to perform a business partnering function. This means the finance team must understand key business issues and provide critical insights that would help achieve the company vision.”

“In leading the finance team, it is extremely important to change mindsets so that Finance becomes a trusted business advisor and equips the company with the tools to take effective business decisions. These tools include dashboard reporting, key business initiatives tracking and process automation projects. Financial reporting and compliance remain important functions, but ‘commercial’ finance will be instrumental in helping us achieve our aggressive growth plans. Therefore we have restructured the finance function and established a commercial finance team that will focus on business partnering to the Sales, Supply Chain, Marketing and Quality Control teams.”

“The other key focus area for Finance is to ensure that the company grows profitably and generates cash,” Fawad explains. “Cash generation is critical and will be a key driver for future growth. So, we have a renewed focus on managing our cash conversion cycle and raised its importance within the leadership team.”

A mentor once told me: “when you work in Finance, you should know everything about everything.” This is the type of ethos and attitude that would enable us to be effective business partners and drive growth!