Annika Muskantor has 20 years’ experience within Executive Interim Management with assignments at, e.g., Sobi, Bisnode, Zodiak television, and Ebay/Tradera. Her latest CFO assignment was at high-tech Scienta Omicron for 20 months. Annika lives with a partner and has three grown-up daughters. Energy boosters in her life is being with her family, walks by the sea, trekking, skiing, sailing, and cooking.
Interim CFO with a passion that lasts all the way
You are never better than the team you are building. That is leadership to Annika Muskantor. Change processes and innovation are what she’s passionate about, but the management mission Annika leaves to someone else.
In her profession as interim CFO, Annika Muskantor is often asked: How do you do it? Are you just stirring up some dust?
– As an interim manager, you cannot just ”stir up dust” or suspend decisions. I take all executive decisions as I see fit and stand by them. You should not take on an interim CFO assignment if you truly do not believe that you will leave behind strong organization. Your successor should be up and running quickly, says Annika.
Make use of the economists
Annika tell us that quite often the mood is low at the Finance departments when she arrives. Few talk to each other. Half has already left the company, the other half of the staff works with music in their head phones. It is important, according to Annika, to make the department an attractive workplace and a platform for the whole operation.
Sometimes the finance department is shunted off somewhere, because everyone else at the company think that they are a nuisance and keep on nagging for receipts and invoices. Then Annika moves the department, physically, to a more central position in the office where they better can interact with the whole organisation.
– Make use of the economists, they should not be tormentors, we have the tax authorities for that, she says laughing. The team should be strong, cooperate and have fun together. The finance department should be in demand by the organization regarding basically everything from sales support to forecasts, and contribute wisely to increase profitability. That is the sign of a successful CFO.
The motivation comes from value building.
– The stockholders pay for my work. It would be wrong to invoice the client if I don’t deliver more than I charge.
Annika often recruits her successor, and many clients have asked her to stay. She is driven by the change processes, there are other managers better at everyday management. Annika’s focus is always on what the organization needs.
She emphasizes the importance of bringing in competent staff and then to trust them. But of course, she’s there as a back-up if something does’nt go as planned. Building a culture where employees dare to ask for help. As a manager, you are accountable – never throw your co-workers under the bus or take credit for their work. However, allow them to shine.
– I’m responsible if mistakes are made – it means I didn’t keep an eye on things. That is the responsibility of leadership and it’s downside.
Some assignments are turned down
It’s the passion that has taken her where she is today. Annika has selected projects she thought seemed interesting and fun, and becoming good at what she does. This has led to more and more interesting assignments. However, there are industries that Annika avoid, for example addictive products such as cigarettes or gambling.
Integrity and boundaries are important to Annika, her name is her trademark. If a company is one payday away from bankruptcy, that is a challenge to Annika. Then you need to run parallel sales support activities, saving programs, negotiate with banks and financiers – while cleaning up the books. However, she sometimes detects financial irregularities in the companies such as fraud and corruption. Then the assignment will primarily focus on cleaning and correcting in cooperation with the management and auditors.
– So far so good, but I would never accept being the front for unethical or illegal actions.
On occasions Annika has been hired by recruiters and sent to a client without them even meeting her prior.
– Nordic Interim’s professional recruiters are the opposite and they are not shy to find different kind of references. This makes me feel protected, and they do exactly the same with the clients. I have never experienced an assignment from Nordic Interim that turned out to be different to what I have been told. Which have happened with other recruiters.
The price tag of a career
Annika’s career has given her a lot of joy and she says this is the best job in the world. However, at a price – her children have had to grow up fast and from time to time she has worked a lot.
– But I have at the same time always been there for my children. Even in negotiations, if they call I answer. On the other hand, they have heard the phrase “mummy needs to work now” more than once.
Annika is not regretful about this, nor are her now grown-up daughters. They have discussed this a lot within the family.
– I believe that my hard work has taught them that as a woman you can follow your dreams and do what you want. I hope that they follow their passions to the end of the road.
By Eleonor Björch Lowe