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May 23, 2023

We were happy to welcome Stefan Gebauer, CFO International at Elanco, onto the EMEA Recruitment podcast. 

To kickstart the episode, Paul Toms asks Stefan about the last time smiled. He shares that he has three children - aged between two and 12. Often, when he smiles, one of them is involved. 

At work, the upcoming annual talent review and succession management workshop also makes Stefan smile, as people management discussions are an enjoyable part of his role. 

Discussing the routine of a typical day, Stefan credits his wonderful wife for managing operations at home. At Elanco, there is no typical day; flexible working arrangements provide balance, but Stefan is glad to be back in the office connecting with people. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Stefan believes the way companies view flexible working is more positive, as it is shown to increase productivity and help integrate personal and professional lives. However, working 100% remotely is not sustainable and reconnection is important, he adds.

Speaking about value creation, Stefan explains that first, as a Business Partner, you need to understand what creates value for the business and other BPs – know how to bring your strengths, regularly inspect your activities, the business needs, and the things that move the needle. 

Secondly, managing expectations is something that also needs to be considered; align with your BPs upfront and discuss what’s possible and what’s not. If something is not possible, suggest alternatives to see how you can create value within the possibilities.

Thirdly, remove complacency and continue to set the bar higher for yourself. To do this, leave your comfort zone, seek feedback, and challenge yourself; that will help you deliver value for the business and your colleagues.

Stefan has spent over 15 years with Elanco, something that was not part of the original plan, but is far from something he regrets. Stefan remains loyal because of the opportunities presented to him and the continuous journey of personal and professional growth in different roles and locations. 

Stefan enjoys his role, the people around him, and the opportunities he has had. Simply, if the chemistry works, people will stay with the company, he says. 

Stefan claims that Finance is a great place to be, as it is a highly diverse function and keeps you on your toes; in Finance, you are connected to management and the business itself.

If you aspire to become a CFO, you will need the right mix of hard and soft skills, he explains. The hard skills include knowing the craft and gaining exposure to different areas of the business. The soft skills include the ability to build strong teams, foster engagement, and create a collaborative environment. 

However, a big differentiator is having the ability to jump from the big picture to the essential details – if you can do that well, that will differentiate you from others. The first step is gaining exposure to senior management.

Stefan describes being CFO International as an exciting role and his dream job. Ten years ago, when he did his career map, the role of CFO International didn’t exist. When the initial public offering (IPO) was released, the business was split into the US side and the international side, allowing Stefan’s aspirations to come true. All the acquisitions, projects and integrations have added to his great experience at the company. He also shares what he is looking forward to in the future.

Stefan splits his key learnings from multiple integrations into three parts: business, processes and systems, and people. 

The business side focuses on pre-integration preparation, how to get value out of acquisitions, and post-integration planning and structures.

For processes and systems, it depends on if you have a transitional service agreement (TSA), which means you can continue to rely on the other company for a period to figure out how to integrate. If not, on day one, you own everything, which comes with its own challenges. You also need to consider how talent can be retained in that process. 

That leads to the third part - people. When staffing for a transformation, the main objective is to cause no major disruption. Over transformation periods, the team is essentially split into the operational team and the transformation team.  

Stefan believes that talent retention must be a fair and transparent process with open communication; acknowledge that you cannot make everyone happy and share what you can – but be mindful of legal restrictions on what you can share and when.

Looking at attracting talent onto the project team staff, find ways to make them comfortable and reintegrate them afterwards, managing that proactively, Stefan recommends. He advises always overstaffing - as you may uncover things you were not aware of previously – and planning for productivity.

Stefan shares that he is a very analytical person and possesses a lot of “blue energy” listed on his insights profile, allowing him to dive into the details and boil them down to the key points - ultimately enabling him to summarise things in an elevated speech-type way.

We explore the recruitment challenges when retaining and attracting talent. Stefan explains the strategies in place at Elanco. 

The annual review includes assessing the processes in place to acquire talent and increase visibility, and the way of matching critical roles with your talent pipeline. Having a regular dialogue with employees and talent on career maps and development plans, and building that pipeline for the roles of the future, is significant. 

Nonetheless, no matter how well you plan, Stefan mentions that there will always be some regrettable losses and roles that cannot be filled internally. This is where bringing in an agency, such as EMEA Recruitment, can help with finding fresh talent and new ideas for the business. 


If you’re looking for a particular part of the episode, use the timestamps below:

02:00: The last thing that made Stefan smile
04:00: Planning, priorities and a typical working day
06:15: Views on flexible working
07:45: How to create value as a Business Partner
11:35: Stefan’s strengths and his L&D
13:45: Why Stefan has stayed with Elanco for over 15 years
16:15: Insights into Finance and how to become a CFO
21:15: Scaling a big picture down to the nitty-gritty
21:40: Stefan’s journey to becoming CFO International
26:10: Key things to consider when undergoing a transformation
33:40: Stefan’s analytical mind
35:40: Attracting and retaining talent
40:35: Why Stefan enjoys people management and development

Would you like to reach out to Stefan? Connect with him on LinkedIn: 


Operation Smile is the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast. We’re proud to be raising vital funds and awareness for Operation Smile’s volunteers to continue delivering life-changing surgery to children with cleft lip and palate. To find out more about our partnership, please visit: 


This podcast is hosted by Paul Toms, Founder of EMEA Recruitment, and Rose Jinks, our Marketing Manager. 

You can find out more about our specialist recruitment services – including senior Finance positions – through our website: 

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