A firm hand on the financial tiller

Suzanne Salerno

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Following the recent appointment of Suzanne Salerno as Chief Financial Officer of HandsOn Systems, the Maltese technology company with sister companies across the globe, has a firm hand on the financial tiller. Already the required structures have been put in place, enabling the company to be better placed for its expected further expansion.

For someone still in her mid-30s, Suzanne Salerno brings considerable industry experience to her position. Very much a hands-on person, she has an enquiring mind and has always taken interest in business operations.

Her first job was as an office manager in a foodstuff importer and manufacturing company. Yet, she always liked finance and gravitated towards that business function, despite having graduated with a B.Sc. in Business and Computing.

In every position she held, she sought to grow and learn something new. “I always try to understand how the business operates and how processes can be improved,” she said. “I believe synergy needs to be achieved among different business units for the company to operate effectively.

“The finance department is there to provide senior management with information necessary to make strategic decisions, such as markets or projects to pursue. Gaining a deep understanding of the business is critical and it is imperative to regularly meet with the board and collaborate with managers.”

Ms Salerno later moved on to an accounting and business advisory firm, where she completed her ACCA and obtained the CISA certification. Here, she focused on conducting compliance audits. She worked in marketing, manufacturing and retail companies as part of her career path, where she was responsible for the finance function, with involvement in project management and other business operations where she acquired much of her expertise. 

Never one to be afraid of a challenge, Ms Salerno will always volunteer for something new. She believes in listening from multiple perspectives. “Understanding others’ perspectives, needs and goals can significantly enhance your ability to gain clarity around context. Each individual can add value to the company and help you make better decisions, in the end,” she said.

“In business, the finance function helps to meet the company’s goals and objectives. Financial KPIs are set to measure the company’s financial performance. These indicate how well a company in doing regarding revenue and profits.  As a CFO, you need to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of budgeting, analysis, compliance and risk management. My role comes with wide-ranging responsibility and accountability, as well as a high level of job satisfaction.”

Geoffrey Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of HandsOn Systems, welcomed Ms Salerno’s disciplined approach and can-do attitude. “Suzanne’s background and experience in business operations and finance will ensure that HandsOn Systems can approach its financial commitments with confidence and can plan for the longer term with greater serenity,” he said.

Since she joined, shortly before Melita concluded its investment in HandsOn Systems, Ms Salerno feels the company has already come a long way. “We have introduced policies and procedures to give us guidance for better decision making,” she said.

Melita’s investment will enable HandsOn Systems to extend its product portfolio and to pursue international expansion.

Ms Salerno is a firm believer that women in leadership help businesses to thrive. “As women, we bring our own set of complementary skills and our unique experiences. Women are likely to be more empathetic, which translates into better team-building and stronger work relationships. We take initiatives, strive for results, and practise self-development.”

Finally, she believes that in the course of time, HandsOn Systems will become a public limited company (plc). She is of the opinion that this will increase brand awareness and have better access to capital. “Better brand recognition can lead to more sales. This will also make the company more visible to valuable potential business partners. Credibility and confidence, reinforced by greater transparency, will provide HandsOn Systems an advantaged position to pursue new projects, new products or new markets,” she said.