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Navigating Systemic Change in Tyre Sector

Chief Financial Officer at Bridgestone Southern Africa stabilises financial control as the company embarks on a new path

JOHANNESBURG – Since joining Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) in September 2020, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Prinisha Khoosal has been meticulous and intentional in strengthening its financial position, systems, policies and procedures as the business goes through a profound evolution in its market positioning.

Over the past year, Bridgestone has embarked on a comprehensive strategic realignment towards becoming more than just a tyre producer, but a total mobility solutions provider. This is in line with the global groups new business positioning launched in 2020, “Solutions for your Journey”, an ongoing transformation and evolution of the brand’s offering beyond tyres.

Within the ambit of this position, Ms. Khoosal and her team have introduced a financial framework that places an emphasis on cost management & optimisation, fiscal discipline, debt containment and operational efficiency – All underpinned by enterprise-wide digitization, simplification and standardisation.

“There was some resistance to the sheer magnitude of change at the onset, as internal teams, customers and suppliers were all accustomed to working in a silos and without an overarching understanding of the group strategy,” Khoosal says. “We had to take our employees, customers & suppliers along on the journey of our new, more standardised deal structures, not only to enable their long-term decision-making, but to provide added stability to our cash flow and balance sheet.

“As a finance department, we focused intently on communicating effectively across the enterprise with sound management and business information. This was to ensure that our measures were not seen as restrictive, but rather to drive early intervention and transparency, ensuring the company pivots into a healthier financial position. This allowed us to better serve our customers, our communities and our environment,” she says.

Cost Containment

Ms. Khoosal took on the mammoth task of enhancing the company’s financial framework amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. A key enabler was digitization and a more precise definition of key performance indicators across the entire business.

Her team assisted with more effective management of sales costs, operational and capital expenditure through a rigorous control system. This ensured that, where money was invested, a defined revenue generation consideration was established which included people development.

“Vital to the achievement of the return on investment, was the optimisation and collaboration at an EXCO level, while being uncompromising in our broader human resource development,” she says. “As a business, we continuously strive to provide the necessary training as well ensure to bring-in the right people who are fit for purpose as we put new systems in place.”

This painstaking transition has not been without challenges, but it has yielded fruits. In addition to stabilising profitability, the business has also seen a reduction in waste, improvements in operational efficiency, a leap in product quality and enhancement of customer service across the board.

“Despite the economic devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, and its strain on the business volumes and our teams’ sense of stability, we have put our heads down and proceeded with the utmost confidence in our long-term strategy to elevate the business to a truly future focused organisation,” she says.

Team building

Throughout her career, Khoosal has dedicated her energy to building up the capacity of those around her, particularly those she leads.

“I have always embraced my role as a mentor, whether in formal or informal settings,” she says. “It’s a natural part of what motivates me and displays my value system. My various roles have helped me to talk to my passion of developing people’s core capacity and building capability, especially females from diverse backgrounds.

“My leadership approach is stakeholder-centric – not just on technical excellence.  It is very important to learn how to negotiate difficult conversations to tackle problems,” she says.

In her highly accomplished career, she has served in various roles in finance at companies such as BP, Blackberry, Motorola, and Procter & Gamble.