Interview with Annabella Bassler - CFO of Ringier AG

This interview was published on 4 April 2022

Deloitte: What do you think the finance function will look like in the future? What role do human factors such as corporate culture play?

Annabella Bassler: I think that finance strategies will be key in the future. As time passes I notice that the whole finance sector requires more strategic thinking and more outcome-oriented competences, rather than operational skills. Competence and interdisciplinary decision-making are becoming more and more relevant now but will do so even more in the future. What‘s more, communication in general is becoming more transparent and open, which is great, as this creates a cheerful and authentic working atmosphere. In complex and serious business such as finance, authenticity is and always will be of high importance. In addition, global factors are sure to play a major role in finance, too. Globalisation is leading to a huge increase in interactions between people and countries. The finance sector is developing more and more into a strategic business. This is why new skills and talents are constantly required in financial processes.

Deloitte: A crucial part of culture is diversity and inclusion. How do you rate this for the finance function?

Annabella Bassler: Diversity and inclusion is an ever-present topic. The movement occurring now is extremely urgent. It is high time that businesses became more aware of this theme, no matter what business sector we are talking about. Of course, we at Ringier are highly aware of the fact that there is no successful leadership without considering and promoting diversity and inclusion. At the end of the day it is all about acceptance and treating people fairly and equally, whatever their background. Diversity and inclusion should be taken into account in every company. At Ringier we can proudly say that our Finance team consists of 50% women and 50% men. Finance is indeed not only a “boys‘ thing”!

Deloitte: In your opinion what are the most important leadership skills a CFO should have today and why?

Annabella Bassler: One of the most significant leadership skills as a CFO is transparency and authenticity. Authenticity is vital since every leader has to have a certain degree of credibility and that’s only possible if one is authentic in all situations. Diversity & Inclusion is a leadership topic very company should be aware of. It is not about delegating. It is important to see it from the perspective of a business. When diversity and inclusion are really part of a company, its potential can rise enormously. The pool of potential employees becomes bigger as more talent is attracted and employee engagement rises. This can push business opportunities and brand recognition even further. It is also proven that more gender diversity in a business can provoke a significant improvement in innovation.

Finance is a very demanding sector. It requires a lot of openness and communication to really form a trusting team spirit as it is all about dealing with money. A basis of trust is needed to be a successful leader as a CFO. I also set great store by the fact that I can rely on my finance colleagues as responsibility is vital in finance. I always try to have this basis of trust in my colleagues. In that way I can convey trust and a positive mindset from my side. The whole thing is circular. And lastly, professional and operational competence are also indispensable and crucial when it comes to being a CFO of a company.

Deloitte: Digital technology is becoming ever more important for media companies, opening up new possibilities. What do you find particularly exciting? Can you give a glimpse of the media world of the future?

Annabella Bassler: It is clear that digital technology is simplifying our lives to a great extent and in many different ways. Digital Technology makes things more efficient and faster, saving time and making businesses more flexible. It also forms a greater connection between people globally and creates interesting and insightful interactions and exchanges. We as a media company benefit hugely from new technological developments, as communication is our focal point. And not only when it comes to transactions; messages can be shared much more rapidly than 15 years ago. I think there will be another huge step forward in the next few years where technological possibilities are concerned. We at Ringier set great value on always being up to date with the latest technological options.

Annabella Bassler

CFO at Ringier AG

Annabella Bassler (*1977) has been CFO of Ringier AG since June 2012. She began her career at Ringier in 2007, working in a number of financial roles. In addition she has also been responsible for Ringier’s activities in Romania since mid-2014. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Ticketcorner AG, Ringier Axel Springer Media AG and Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz AG, among others. In November 2019, she initiated and launched the Ringier EqualVoice Initiative, which aims to make women more visible in reporting and give them an equal voice. The core of the initiative is the EqualVoice Factor. Annabella Bassler studied economics at the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, subsequently completing a doctorate. After gaining practical experience in consulting, Annabella Bassler worked from 2004 to 2007 in various financial roles for Hamburg Süd, formerly the Oetker Group’s shipping company, in Hamburg.