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John Rizoski – Eye On The Prize

By Brad Eisenhuth | Career Management, Mentor, Eisenhuth, FL:MAI |

John Rizoski is the CFO of Clemenger BBDO, an advertising agency that forms part of the Clemenger Group, Australasia's largest and most successful marketing communications company. John has been involved in the world of communications for almost 20 years, after a brief, initial post-graduation stint at a chartered accounting firm.

John spent three years at digital marketing agency Wunderman before joining the Clemenger Group in 2001. “I made a final jump into ad agency land by becoming the finance director/CFO and Company Secretary of Clemenger BBDO Sydney in 2007,” he says. “I’m currently a Board director there, as well as being on the board of the Omnicom Media Group (OMG).”

Clarity First

John believes there hasn’t been one singular achievement in his career to pinpoint as the accelerant for his development. “I think it’s due more to a character attribute than an achievement,” he says. “I’ve always believed in knowing your goal, and have had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to achieve. Then I mapped out the steps towards it and pursued it with passion.”

This was particularly the case with Clemenger. “As soon as I joined OMD (which is 50% owned by the Clemenger group), I realised what a brilliant organisation it was,” says John. “So I set my sights on getting as far as possible within it.”

John particularly wanted to work for Clemenger BBDO, and made that his goal. “With a bit of patience, resilience and networking, I’ve been able to achieve that ambition and more,” he says.

Never Stop Innovating

John and his team are currently busy with two initiatives that have the potential to transform the business.

“Oddly enough, for an industry that thrives on the new, advertising has been a bit slow to adapt to some of the more 21st Century aspects of Financial Management,” John says, wryly. “We’re making a concerted effort to make the process, from payroll to accounts payable and onto cash receivable, as slick and automated as possible.”

“Advertising is an increasingly competitive and margin-squeezed environment,” he adds. “It’s therefore crucial to understand how well assets – which in advertising mostly means people – are being used.

“We need to get a sense of profitability in real time, rather than after the fact,” he says.  “To this end, we’ve been introducing end-to-end workflow management systems that show us where we’re being efficient and effective, and where the opportunities for improvement lie.”

Words of Wisdom

To any emerging accounting and finance talent, John has three key pieces of advice:

  1. Have a plan. “I come from a background in professional soccer where we always had a game plan and even had to visualise it,” he says.
  2. Network and collaborate. “Never underestimate the power of a good network,” cautions John. “And don’t forget to go outside the financial ‘bubble’ and talk to people from other parts of your industry or other industries. It gives you rare and important perspective.”
  3. Be the calm in the storm. ”These days, the business environment is volatile,” says John. “My role is to help navigate my colleagues through it, and offer advice that helps us chart a course for growth.”

Key Points To Remember

  • Keep your eye on the prize. Know your goals and what you want to achieve.
  • Patience, resilience and networking will get you where you want to be.
  • Lead your people cost effectively to maximise margins.
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