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108: EMEA Recruitment Podcast #108 – Becoming a CFO – Stefan Schoenbeck

September 28th, 2021

Thank you to Stefan Schoenbeck, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Central & Eastern Europe at C&A in Austria, for joining us on the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

“Leading people is mostly about coaching people and getting them to the next level and being happy in their roles.”

Stefan spoke to Paul Toms as he returns to some normality after nine weeks of school holidays over the summer. He has known Paul for a number of years now, but begins the episode by describing his role at C&A. 

C&A itself turns 180-years-old this year, but is part of the wider COFRA group, which Stefan has worked for since 2008. He has held several strategic Finance positions during this period, but has been the CFO for Central & Eastern Europe for around three years. 

While he previously focussed on analysis and decision preparation, Stefan is now part of the management team, and is responsible for taking decisions and leading people. 

It’s slightly unusual nowadays for such strong company loyalty, but Stefan has always prioritised learning and grabbing new opportunities. Although he’s looked outside of the group for new roles in the past, Stefan has always found the right opportunities at the right moments within COFRA. It’s thanks to a culture that fosters personal initiative that has kept Stefan interested (and 50% good luck, he says).

Despite his long tenure within the group, Stefan is insistent that people should get out of their comfort zones, finding different organisations and perspectives to help them grow. Moving to different countries – Stefan has lived in Spain and Switzerland, as well as Austria – has helped him develop himself. He’s even willing to lose good people (from time-to-time) if it means they can learn.

Paul asks Stefan about the biggest challenges he’s currently facing as a CFO. The COVID-19 pandemic is obvious, but the conversation soon moves onto the impact of Business Intelligence and Data on the Finance function. 

Stefan explores how we can better utilise the abundance of data we have available to inform decision-making. He is incredibly aware of how our own biases can distort our interpretation, and the value, of data.

We discuss the steps needed for a successful new hire, as well as the “huge impact and cost” that a wrong hire can have on a team and business. 

Stefan also reveals why we shouldn’t look for the perfect mentor in our careers and the books that he’s read recently that have fuelled him intellectually. 

Paul ends the episode by asking Stefan what the last thing that made him smile was – it’s a charming answer.  


If you’d like to find a particular part of the episode, use the timestamps below:

01:03: Getting back to normality02:16: Becoming a CFO05:42: Looking for evolution, not revolution10:06: Encouraging people to grow12:23: The biggest challenges facing Stefan23:07: The importance of using data in the right way29:34: The difference between believing and knowing31:41: Preventing the wrong hire38:22: The people and books that inspire Stefan41:40: The last thing that made Stefan smile42:35: How to reach out to Stefan

If you’d like to connect with Stefan, you can find him on LinkedIn.


We’re proud to support international medical charity Operation Smile through the EMEA Recruitment podcast. If you’d like to find out more about what Operation Smile’s volunteers do, please read more about the cause on our website: www.emearecruitment.com/operation-smile


The EMEA Recruitment podcast is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, Senior Marketing Executive. 

Find out about our full range of international recruitment services through our website: www.emearecruitment.com

You can also keep up to date with us via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/emea-recruitment-limited 

If you’d like to connect with Paul, visit his LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paultoms/

You can also find him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/paul_toms


If there are any topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes, please contact Rose: [email protected] 


#emearecruitment #emearecruitmentpodcast #stefanschoenbeck #paultoms #finance #austria #operationsmile

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