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Current as of 08/12/16 07:39PM NZST
Money Editor for NZ Herald

Deloitte Top 200: Chief Financial Officer of the Year - Jolie Hodson

Jolie Hodson has been instrumental in helping turn around not just the financials at Spark but in transforming the business to meet the new digital world.

That's why the newly promoted head of digital has been named Massey Business School Chief Financial Officer of the year in this year's Deloitte Top 200 awards.

A runner-up in last year's awards, Hodson joined Spark in 2013 from Lion Nathan in Australia where she spent 12 years working her way up the finance ranks. Prior to that she spent eight years at Deloitte working as an auditor.

Hodson's arrival at Spark marked the end of a 10-year losing streak for the company. Since then her tenure has been notable for not only her sound financial performance, but her skill as a top leader within a large organisation.

Her leadership of Spark's business portfolio has been demonstrably sound.

She can count among her achievements the successful divestment of a number of businesses at excellent prices, including difficult-to-move entities such as AAPT.

Hodson also oversaw the Revera acquisition, a strong contributor to Spark's improving performance.

She is also credited with the development of Spark's Turnaround Programme, which has delivered cost reductions and cashflow improvements worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the company.

Jonathan Mason, a judge for the awards and former CFO of Fonterra and Carter Holt, said Hodson was respected by her peers, her CEO, the board and the market.

"As we all know, Spark has been in a very challenging space and has had a lot of disruption in its business model.

"Jolie has been an innovative member of the lead team, both in understanding financials but also in thinking about how to respond to disruption."

Watch: Chief Financial Officer of the Year finalist - Andrew Carroll:

Video

Mason said Hodson had helped lower the cost base at Spark which had been very well received by the market and had resulted in the company having a very strong share price.

In the last two years Spark's share price has risen from $3.24 to $3.43 (as of November 11).

Mason said all three of the finalists for the CFO of the Year category were strong contenders this year but Jolie had stood out as having had the most significant effect on company performance.

Jolie has been an innovative member of the lead team, both in understanding financials but also in thinking about how to respond to disruption.
Jonathan Mason, a judge for the awards

"Jolie, among all the candidates had the most significant effect on company performance and this was in her leadership in the transformation projects and it has been in place for the past three years.

"Spark has seen significant benefits in 2016 and rewarded in the share market with a superior performance and for that we gave Jolie the [title of] CFO of the Year."

Hodson has already been rewarded for her efforts at Spark with a promotion to chief executive of Spark Digital -- a role she moved into as of last month.

Watch: Chief Financial Officer of the Year finalist - Gordon MacLeod:

Video

It's her first chief executive role but isn't likely to be the last for Hodson who has set her sights on becoming a top leader.

Hodson is one of the few women at the top of New Zealand's publicly listed companies and is providing a strong role model for others looking to move into the executive.

As well as working hard on the business she has made time to work on her leadership skills and admits to using business coaches, both inside and outside the business, to help her identify and work on elements of her own leadership style.

Simon Moutter, Spark chief executive, says Hodson is an outstanding leader of herself and her people.

"She has strong values and combines these with a very authentic and powerful style, powerful intellect and a deep commitment to results."

Finalist: Andrew Carroll

Chorus CFO Andrew Carroll has helped steer the company through substantial regulatory challenges gaining the respect of the market and his fellow executives in doing so.

Andrew Carroll.
Andrew Carroll.

A finalist in last year's CFO award Carroll joined Chorus in 2011 after working for Telecom for nine years in a range of corporate finance roles.

Since joining Chorus he has led the organisation's finance team in developing an action plan to counter the prospect of a $1 billion funding gap through to 2020.

Judge Jonathan Mason said Chorus had a solid shareholding performance in 2016 and Carroll was very much part of that.

"Andrew is respected by the market, investment analysts and his peers and in 2016 specifically, he completed a successful refinancing for Chorus that has saved them money and positioned them well for the next stage of regulation which starts in 2020.

"He has not just been an excellent CFO but he has also driven value within the company."

Finalist: Gordon MacLeod

Ryman Healthcare's Gordon MacLeod has been at the financial helm of Ryman for nine years and has been a valued partner to the CEO in implementing the Ryman strategy that has created extraordinary value for shareholders over the past 10 years.

Gordon MacLeod.
Gordon MacLeod.

MacLeod is respected for his finance, accounting and strategic skills, and is respected as a leading CFO by his colleagues, the Ryman board, and financial markets.

In the past year, MacLeod and his team have been instrumental in Ryman's move into the Australian retirement home market.

Judge Jonathan Mason said Ryman had been a standout performer on the NZX for the past 10 years and MacLeod had been highly successful in understanding the financials at Ryman and being a partner to the CEO.

"Gordon is also highly respected by all the stakeholders of Ryman, the investment analysts, banks, the board, by his peers and the CEO."

- NZ Herald

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