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Faces of Finance

16 inspiring and impactful women finance leaders

Alejandra Buentello
Alejandra Buentello CFO Connect

Women  have long been underrepresented in finance, and especially in leadership positions. And while there are reportedly more women finance leaders than ever, there’s still a long way to go to reach gender parity.

Celebrating some of the talented and remarkable women in finance is a start.

So we asked our global finance leadership community to nominate inspiring finance leaders who are driving impact and change. This is a list of truly impressive professionals from all around the world.

These women have made significant impacts on their organizations, on their colleagues, and in their communities. They are leaders who are deeply involved in their professions, and judging by the glowing praise we received from the community on their behalf, their impact reaches far and wide.

These are the women finance leaders the CFO Connect community thinks you should meet:

Impactful women finance leaders - large companies

1. Nerea Moreno Burgos

Nerea Moreno Burgos, based in Barcelona, has over 15 years’ finance experience. She’s worked in audit, at startups, and large corporations, and she’s been the Group CFO at VeePee since 2021. She’s worked in Latin America and Europe and currently leads a team of more than 200 people.

Current role: Group CFO - VeePee

Previous roles: CFO Brazil, CFO LATAM - Privalia

Notable achievements: VeePee Group executive committee member, international experience

What her colleagues say: “Nerea has grown as a professional within the company, moving through various strategic areas and different subsidiaries, eventually becoming the leader of the department at the group level.”

“She is an exceptional leader, serving as an inspiration to all the women around her, showing how it's possible to be a woman and be at the top level of a large international company.”

2. Simone Carstens

Simone Carstens describes her position of COO/CFO as the ‘link between Finance, Operations, Marketing, and HR.’ She’s an active mentor for fellow women leaders, and passionate about topics such as diversity, female leadership, and equal opportunities.

Current role: COO/CFO - Deutsche Telekom

Previous roles: Head of Controlling, Head of Production Coordination, MTU Aero Engines

Notable achievements: Mentor at Encourage Ventures, Advisory Board Member at Mom Hunting

What her colleagues say: “Simone is CFO of several group entities of Telekom, one of the largest corporations in Germany, and also serves as an advisory board member. Besides heading the Finance and (interim) Operations departments, she actively advocates for compatibility of work and family life, being a mother herself. She's also a self-taught LinkedIn Creator, reaching more than 35k followers on the topics of finance, telecommunications, customer service, and working parents.”

3. Lauren Russi Dillard

Lauren Russi Dillard is currently interim CFO and SVP of Finance & Investor Relations at the Bay Area-based data connectivity platform LiveRamp. She’s a graduate of Santa Clara university and earned her CPA from Ernst & Young.

Current role: CFO + SVP Finance & Investor Relations - LiveRamp

Previous roles: Senior Associate, Addo Communications, Senior Financial Analyst, Silver Spring Networks

Notable achievements: Interim CMO at LiveRamp, CPA, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

What her colleagues say: Lauren is an inspirational leader who leads the finance and IR team with great business acumen but also with empathy.  Asked to step into an interim CMO role at short notice she led the rebranding and repositioning of LiveRamp with passion and enabled the marketing team to thrive.”

4. Saoirse Fahey

Saoirse Fahey has more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles in tech and finance. According to her, her focus includes ‘building high performance organisations, to reach high growth and profitability while taking market share, proven across different functions (Finance, Marketing Operations, Sales) and cultures.’ 

Current role: Head of Finance and Strategy - Stripe

Previous roles: CFO & COO, Phorest, Senior Director of Finance (Western Europe), Microsoft

Notable achievements: Independent Non-Executive Director at Ervia, Chartered Accountant 

What her colleagues say: “Saoirse creates an incredible team ethos and culture that inspires all those in her team to do their best work. She influences company strategy and direction while also creating structure and rock solid governance”

“She has been one of the best managers in my career”

5. Anabelle Lorbois

Anabelle Lorbois is PayFit’s VP Finance and Interim CFO. She had over 10 years’ experience in the hospitality sector (Accor, John Paul) before making the move to SaaS at PayFit. Although based in Paris, Anabelle spent two years working in Brazil for Accor.

Current role: CFO - PayFit

Previous roles: Group CFO, John Paul, Financial Manager LATAM, Accor

Notable achievements: International experience, peer mentor

What her colleagues say: “In her time at PayFit, Anabelle has embodied positive change. In the macro context with a lot of changes and challenges, Anabelle remains positive, maintaining excellence and driving the company towards the right direction.”

6. Gina Proctor

Gina Proctor is an experienced finance leader, with over 25 years at tech giant Intel under her belt. Her various roles in finance at Intel have taken her around the world: from California, all the way to Vietnam – where she acted as Intel’s Vietnam site coordinator and Director of Finance – and back again to the US west coast, where she’s currently based.

Current role: CFO, Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Operations - Intel

Previous roles: Senior Controller, VP Chief Audit Executive, Chief of Staff to CFO, Intel

Notable achievements: MBA, CPA

What her colleagues say: “Gina is a brilliant and visionary leader and problem solver. She leads with kindness, integrity and graciously mentors, inspires and uplifts women.”

7. Sarah Spoja

Sarah Spoja is currently the CFO at payment automation system software company Tipalti. She’s an experienced director with a history working in fintech and retail, and particularly skilled in financial modeling, operations, pricing strategy, management, and M&A. 

Current role: CFO - Tipalti 

Previous roles: Director, KKR Capstone, Consultant, Bain & Company

Notable achievements: MBA from Stanford University, co-chair of San Francisco CFO Leadership Council

What her colleagues say: “Sarah has enabled tremendous company growth for Tipalti as its first-ever CFO since joining the fintech startup in 2018. She built the finance and accounting organizations from the ground up, instilling a penchant for accounting automation, strategic business insights and scaling the company for global expansion.”

“She’s known for her sense of humor, a key element of her leadership philosophy. Sarah believes a peer community is critical for achieving success in this role, which is why she is actively involved in the San Francisco CFO Leadership Council. As co-chair, Sarah oversees the group’s mission of connecting finance executives and fostering that community so finance leaders across the Bay Area have the resources to thrive.” 

“Well-versed in startup success, Sarah co-founded the Women@Tipalti Employee Resource Group, which she leads in addition to being involved in Tipalti’s company-wide mentorship program. A proponent of membership in all shapes and sizes, Sarah understands the importance of community and belonging in companies.”

8. Alka Tandan

Alka Tandan, based in the Bay Area, has been CFO at Gainsight since 2022. She has extensive experience in the SaaS industry, with a particular focus on corporate finance, operations, and M&A. 

Current role: CFO - Gainsight

Previous roles: VP Finance, Gainsight, VP Finance & HR, MetricStream

Notable achievements: Member of Forbes Finance Council, MBA from University of California, Berkeley, Advisory Board Member at Saas Metrics Standards Board, investor at TRM Labs

What her colleagues say: “Alka is one of the strongest ambassadors for human-first leadership in SaaS. She subscribes to conscious leadership values and her level of care and empathy for others is legendary. She believes that people are a company’s most valuable asset and will ultimately determine its success.

“Alka is known for her thought leadership and has spoken at several public forums, including the CFO Connect Summit and TiE Global, and on podcasts such as CFO Yeah! and the HaaS Podcast. Her contributions have also been featured in leading publications such as Fortune, Forbes, and Tandan is a member of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women community and Bloomberg’s New Voices Program.”

9. Dan Zhang

In Dan Zhang’s words, her leadership style combines ‘the scrappiness of a startup leader with the operational discipline needed in a scaled enterprise.’ Her experience lies in SaaS and enterprise software, namely go-to-market expertise and building high-performing teams.

Current role: SVP Finance - ClickUp

Previous roles: SVP Finance & Operations,, Director, Sales Operations & Strategy, AppDynamics

Notable achievements: Chartered Financial Analyst, Master of Arts in Sociology, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Science in Statistics  

What her colleagues say: “Dan does so much more than helping ClickUp grow (and doing so efficiently). While she works with leaders across the business to ensure ClickUp's GTM process hits topline goals consistently, she also helps to drive financial discipline and operational maturity to ensure the company is ready for the next steps in its business journey.”

“ClickUp's employees have endearingly referred to her as "Professor Dan" because of her commitment to explaining complex financial topics and breaking them down so that it's understandable and relevant to employees. She understands that the more financial literacy employees have, the more confidence they'll have in the business and its growth trajectory.”

“Outside of ClickUp, Dan is deeply involved in peer organizations where she has built a network among CFOs at other late-stage companies. She is committed to giving back to the community and collaborating with her peers by helping to solve complex challenges and provide advice.”

Impactful women finance leaders - mid-sized companies

1. Alexandra Vázquez Bea

Alexandra Vázquez Bea is the current COO and CFO at Oetker Digital, the digital branch of  German food and beverage giant Dr. Oetker. She describes herself as a food industry and corporate expert whose leadership style is progressive, passionate, and with a strong focus on action.

Current role: COO/CFO - Oetker Digital

Previous roles: CEO & co-founder,  LENCHEN – Der Lebkuchen, Corporate Finance freelancer

Notable achievements: Active mentor at several startup incubators and accelerators 

What her colleagues say: “Alexandra’s leadership style is very impressive and exemplary, always calm and professional with a lot of experience and knowledge to share. She gained experience in so many different roles, including banking and consultancy, and as a founder. Her business and law degrees show that she’s broad-minded. She’s been working for many years to revolutionize the food industry.”

2. Chloé Giraut-Pierron

Chloé Giraut-Pierron is Pigment’s Head of Finance, where she’s led the company through multiple rounds of fundraising. She has extensive experience in tech: blockchain, fintech, and SaaS to name a few of her areas of expertise.

Current role: Head of Finance - Pigment

Previous roles: Head of Finance, Qonto, Associate, AT Kearney

Notable achievements: Master’s degree in Finance, volunteer and mentor at #LePlusImportant

What her colleagues say: “Chloe has been the head of finance of the fastest-growing French tech company for two years, working relentlessly to build processes, handle operations, and assemble a team. She handled operations in over four countries, from multiple fundraising series to sales signing, with mastery and never-seen-before commitment.”

“Chloe is only 34 years old and yet she already has an impressive track record of building finance teams from the ground up in startups and innovative industries. First at Stratumn (Blockchain), then Qonto (Banking) and now at Pigment (EPM SaaS), she consistently demonstrates her ability to hire talented finance professionals and lead them through ambitious roadmaps.”

3. Vulnavia Gura

Vulnavia Gura is a dedicated finance professional with 14 years’ experience in e-commerce, edu-tech, retail, and construction industries. She began her career in accounting and has worked her way up to finance leadership in multiple companies. 

Current role: CFO - Student Hub

Previous roles: Head of Finance, Bash, Head of Finance, Orderin

Notable achievements: Certified Chartered Accountant, CFO Connect Summit speaker

What her colleagues say: “Vulnavia's intelligence and ability to solve complex problems are two traits that make her stand out.”

4. Veronika von Heise-Rotenburg

Dr. Veronika von Heise-Rotenburg started off in the banking sector and made the leap to the startup scene, where she now resides. She’s passionate about the topics of female leadership, fundraising, and finance operations. 

Current role: CFO & Managing Director - Everphone GmbH

Previous roles: EU Finance Director/Managing Director, Cazoo, CFO/Managing Director, Cluno

Notable achievements: MBA, Doctor of Law, angel investor, supervisory board member 

What her colleagues say: “Besides building up and efficiently running our Finance, Legal and People & Culture departments, Veronika is a great leader, and also cares a lot for her team. She brought ~15 people over from her old employer, and integrated all of them into our everphone team. She is well-loved by all our team, and respected in the whole company. Besides, she’s built a very active finance community on LinkedIn and acts as a corporate influencer - a rare skill for CFOs - thus attracting investors, new hires, and suppliers for our company.”

5. Emily Rees

Emily Rees is CFO and HR Director at Quartix, a UK-listed SaaS telematics business. She’s worked in finance roles for over 10 years after having earned her BSc from London School of Economics.

Current role: CFO & HR Director - Quartix Technologies

Previous roles: Head of Finance, Quartix, Regional Head of Finance & HR, ECCO Europe

Notable achievements: Chartered Global Management Accountant, Associate Chartered Management Accountant

What her colleagues say: “Leadership and professionalisation of the team, clear vision articulation, great at investor management in a listed high-quality business.”

Impactful women finance leaders - small companies

1. Beth Abbott-Stratford

Beth Abbott-Stratford is CFO at Flexys, the debt management and collections platform. She’s worked in law firms and financial services before finding her niche in SMEs. According to colleagues, she has transformed the finance function at Flexys. 

Current role: CFO - Flexys

Previous roles: FP&A Manager, Group Financial Controller, Clarke Willmott, Finance Business Partner, Tribal Group

Notable achievements: Chartered Accountant, member of the ICAEW Business Committee, advocate for women leaders and women in STEM 

What her colleagues say: “Beth is an incredible CFO and the type any business couldn't be without! She has transformed Flexys' finance function and is a highly valued board member. Beth contributes to all areas of the business and is a critical part of our sales engagements and also our long term strategic planning.”

“She inspires me to become a better finance professional due to her unwavering support even during difficult periods. Her vision allows us as a company to excel and be on the front foot ahead of future challenges arising. She commands respect when she speaks because of her knowledge and experience.”

2. Nikita Davina Johnson

Nikita Davina Johnson has worked in finance for over eight years. From hospitality, to aviation, to wellness, and finally landing in financial services, her career has spanned several industries. She mentors young accountants in reconciliation, tax accounting, and debtor management. 

Current role: Head of Finance - Key Wealth Group

Previous roles: Senior Accountant, Okavango Wilderness Safaris, Finance Manager, Northern Air Maintenance

Notable achievements: Peer mentor, final stages of ACCA qualification, Financial Modeling Valuation Analyst certification

What her colleagues say: “Nikita is a very passionate,confident, emotionally intelligent, decisive and strategic individual.”

“Nikita is a great and inspirational leader. Her work ethic is unmatched and always goes above and beyond for the betterment of the company.”

“Nikita has great leadership skills and uses them to empower and mentor those she leads.”

“Impact and solid understanding to lead the finance team ethically and decisively. Turned around a low yielding company to a high financially performing organisation.”

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