Insight from the top: CFO of Novelis speaks to EMBA students

Steve Fisher at GBS

Steve Fisher, senior vice president and CFO at Novelis speaks to Goizueta's EMBA students

Goizueta’s Executive MBA Program (EMBA) welcomed Steve Fisher, senior vice president and CFO at Novelis Inc, to the Emory University campus last week.  In an open dialog, Mr. Fisher presented students with an inside look into his tenure at Novelis, the world’s largest recycler of aluminum and the leading producer of rolled aluminum products.

Fisher walked students through what he described as three pivotal points of his career, centered on the 2007 acquisition of Novelis by Hindalco Industries Limited, based in Mumbai, India. He provided insight into his role in preparing for the sale, the process of selling to Hindalco, and the after effects of the acquisition.

With 25 manufacturing plants and recycling centers spread throughout 9 countries on four continents, Novelis’s global reach is continuing to grow. Five of its locations are currently going through expansions. Fisher spoke about changes in management and restructuring, including lessons he learned along the way, leading him to make the decision to recruit an expanded team of financial professionals.

His remarks were candid and highlighted the uncertainty felt by the corporate office immediately following the acquisition and the resurgence of energy felt once Hindalco made clear its view of Novelis as a long-term, strategic investment that would maintain its own identity and would enjoy a large degree of autonomy in decision making.

“That was another pivotal point in Novelis and my career, because our new ownership was saying, ‘First, we believe in the $45 a share acquisition price. Second, we believe in bright human capital that knows how to run a global business, and we want it to continue to be run out of Atlanta,” Fisher said.

Bruce MacLane, Director of Global Recruiting, also attended the event and noted the cultural changes that took place as a result of bringing on board stronger human capital to strengthen the head office functions. “Now we’ve embarked on what’s called the One Novelis strategy, where we are leading more from our world headquarters, because we have big global customers, like Coca-Cola, BMW, Ford – so that changed our talent set,” noted Maclane. He also mentioned the success found in recruiting Goizueta graduates. “We needed people who can operate on a global platform. That’s why we’ve been successful recruiting people here, because we have so many students in this program with experiences abroad.”

Fisher offered the audience a little career advice: “Many times we’re in a rush to get to the top, but my advice to get to the top is to hone your skills, be very deep and knowledgeable in one subject and that’s going to get you noticed first, and then you broaden out as you get to the top,” Fisher advised.

Holly Bellmund 13EMBA, director of operations and maintenance excellence at US Silica, found the event to not only to be impactful but representative of the quality of programming found at Goizueta. “It’s great to be at a school where one day you research an industry and a few months later you get to hear a CFO talk about it. From a personal perspective, I direct sustainability for my company … It’s very meaningful me to understand their sustainability strategy,” Bellmund said.

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