DUBAI: Albert Einstein once said, ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity’. Jaufre Rouanet, previously a CFO of a mid-sized oil and gas company couldn’t have agreed more. In 2016, he found himself in the middle of a major financial crisis. Plummeting oil prices due to global oversupply, hit his company and many others like it, hard.His final days with the company revolved around financial restructuring of the Group, renegotiating with banks and lawyers banking facilities totalling US$145 million he secured through various fund raising exercises, and supporting the demobilisation of 1,000 employees.
“It was a challenging period of my life. I was approaching 40 and in my mind, that should be your most brilliant time of your life in terms of career. That is when you have most of your capabilities and capacities. I was just facing a wall; being a CFO doing bankruptcy and debt restructuring. During that tumultuous time, I took the opportunity to reflect and assess the best venue to re-energise my career and future development,” he shares openly.
Jaufre came across the Global C-suite Business & Finance Programme whilstre searching for a suitable programme which would result in a globally recognised qualification that best complemented his Master in International Finance from NEOMA Business School and Executive Programs in Management and Corporate Finance with the European Institute of Business Finance, INSEAD. He enrolled immediately and immersed himself in the programme despite being burdened with the restructuring of his organisation.During the day he was busy negotiating with banks, lawyers and creditors working on debt restructuring. At night he was engrossed in self-study and preparations for the Strategic Case Study exam. Weekends were spent glued to the computer participating in the programme web-casts with CIMA teachers and trainers.
Despite the professionally turbulent and intense period, Jaufre still managed to find a silver lining in his cloud. “I learnt a lot when I was participating in the programme – about myself and business. The concepts learnt in the classroom were directly applied in the boardroom: the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Code of Ethics and Duty of Care are aligned with the required skill set for the management of bankruptcy. Usually, you will only learn about how to be successful or how to be an entrepreneur. No one teaches you about bankruptcy and being in challenging business situations – that’s something I learnt from my personal life while pursuing the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation,” he reveals.
Jaufre’s experience during the 3-day induction course at the beginning of the programme was also a source of motivation for him to stay focused and keep his eye on the prize – the CGMA designation. “I thought the programme was adequately deployed through a team gathering process with other participants, in bringing the energy and passion to succeed. It was a very interactive process – between us, the students, and the CIMA trainers. They’re here to make you successful, so be sure to interact, bounce off your ideas and get valuable feedback from them.” He also found the innovative learning process to be highly beneficial saying, “It’s a well-designed programme. Unlike other senior management and leadership programmes where it’s mostly being in a class room for a day or a week with no pre-immersion or follow-up classes, the Global C-suite Business & Finance programme’s 360 degree approach from the classroom to your own study room, combining in-class team building and web-casts was very effective in building a path to refresh your skills and your confidence level.”
All his hard work and burning the candle at both ends for 3 long months paid off when he aced the Strategic Case Study exam in August 2016 and ranked joint 4th in the highest exam scores worldwide. He attributes his stellar success to his family and well, common sense. Thanking his family for their unwavering support and understanding, he shares, “I have a wonderful wife and 2 adorable kids who appreciated seeing a husband and father giving time, passion and enthusiasm to his goal of being successful in the programme. We succeeded as a family – they really took care of me during the preparation period. And it was a good opportunity to show my kids that you can achieve your goals by working hard. I strongly believe that if it is to be, it is up to me!”
Providing some insight as to how he managed to perform so exceptionally well in the Strategic Case Study exam, he says, “The beauty of the programme is that it does not assess you on quantitative metrics and it’s not about academics. It’s about having a pragmatic approach to business.” His top tip on how to successfully answer the Strategic Case Study exam is to leverage from your day to day experience. “When you take the Strategic Case Study exam, it’s like replying to your CEO or your CFO or to a bank that wants to negotiate with you. Your approach to the exam should not be something new; it should be like how you structure the way you operate on a day to day basis, communicating with your leadership, and delivering value by proposing effective solutions. Every day as a leader, you’re leveraging or applying the tips you get during the programme.”
Jaufre’s stellar performance in the Global C-suite Business & Finance Programme gave him a much needed confidence boost and validated his knowledge, skills and ability to deploy his competencies recognised through the programme. His successes ultimately led him to leave the oil and gas industry to start out on his own. “After the programme, if you have truly absorbed what you have learnt from the exposure and experience you received during that time, you become more proactive when you interact with your colleagues, your managers and stakeholders. The programme really opens minds and opens doors. It equips you with the skills on how to move from being an employee to a business partner. It also made me realise that sometimes for you to move forward in your career, you need to move sideways and perhaps away from a pure finance role,” he shares thoughtfully. “I would have participated in the programme earlier. Although, I recognise that everything comes with a specific time. If the oil prices remained strong, my previous company would have continued to perform and I would still be an employee. Before this, I was disheartened by the fact that I came from a company that had gone through a financial restructuring but I’m glad to discover it was actually a unique opportunity.”
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Jaufre is now the proud founder of his own growing consulting firm, JRC Corporate Consulting, with 8 experienced consultants and counting. His firm provides specialised consulting services in financial control, project management and structuring as well as legal and compliance for businesses, be it start-ups or large multi-nationals, in the United Arab Emirates and beyond. AETOSWire