Gareth Evans, CFO of Qantas
What was your career path to becoming CFO?
I did a maths degree at university and worked as a production manager in a small plastics business for two years, which provided great experience of how a business works. I joined KPMG in the UK in insolvency and then audit in Australia, and worked for Caltex in corporate finance roles before moving to Qantas - where I've held many varied roles across the financial, commercial and operational aspects of the business.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role as CFO?
Qantas is affected both by broader, global economic trends and by the particular circumstances of the Australian economy. The prolonged economic uncertainty in Europe, record high fuel prices and the strong dollar have both had an impact on our business. This is not to mention unpredictable events like natural disasters.
Aviation has always been subject to volatility. The role of the CFO is helping set a clear strategy to navigate through economic cycles on the one hand, and responding swiftly to changes in market conditions on the other.
Has the CFO role changed or evolved during your time in the industry and how?
The broader role of CFO has remained consistent. What has grown in recent years is the role played by CFOs in managing stakeholders, both internal and external, and in helping the CEO communicate business strategy. The importance of internal employee engagement has also increased.
What’s one of the biggest challenges in the industry at the moment that affects CFOs?
We are experiencing structural change in the global and Australian economies, as well as new opportunities, so the challenge is to set the right strategy to navigate this environment while maintaining disciplined financial management.
What is your advice for other CFOs just starting out in their careers?
It’s important to have a broader view of the business than just the finance department. At the Qantas Group we value a combination of solid finance skills, an understanding of company strategy, good teamwork ability and the capacity to manage complex projects and issues under pressure.