Pasquale Iannone is the chief financial officer of Keter, a multinational conglomerate that manufactures resin-based consumer products for the home and garden. Iannone, like most who ascend to the C suite at major corporations or entities, did not get there through luck or circumstance. He got there by working his way up, learning as he went, and applying those lessons to a management style that has Keter poised for growth for years to come.
Pasquale Iannone came to Keter in 2015 after the company he was working for, ABM Italia, an Italian multinational company active in the plastic injection field, was acquired by Keter. Iannone had been the CFO of ABM, and as Keter became more familiar with his work, his options within the company widened.
“I was contacted by a headhunter and there was this amazing opportunity for me with an Italian private equity firm that needed a group CFO in this company called ABM,” Iannone said. “ABM is basically a small Keter. After two years, we were acquired by Keter. And since then I moved from being the group CFO for ABM to becoming the CEO of the acquired company. I had to manage the company for a while, then I was asked to help in the financial area. So, I went back to being the European CFO of the group, and then I took the role of group CFO at Keter.”
By the time Iannone landed at Keter, he started his career at Procter & Gamble in Italy as well as the CFO of Italian Publishing Business of De Agostini, so while the scale may have been much larger working with Keter, he did have a handle on the job coming in.
But no one is “born” with the ability and skill set to hold the role of CFO at a major international firm. That, of course, comes from years of training, education, and work.
And Iannone put the work in. Iannone had started at P&G in 2000 as a plant finance analyst, responsible for production analysis, budgeting and forecasting, and strategic plan development.
Iannone would work his way up from there, holding titles that included corporate finance manager, corporate finance team manager, and Gillette integration manager.
Pasquale Iannone’s Accomplishments
When talking about his ascent to the C suite, Iannone said that one of the areas of his career that he is most proud of, in addition to becoming CFO of a major international player like Keter, was some of the work that he did with P&G.
“What I was most proud of at P&G was that I was able to create a financial reporting system for profitability by customer, which was used for many years,” he said, referring to this as an achievement from a proper combination of information technology and finance. “What I learned is that wherever you go, what you need to leave is your footprint, your mark. I meet people from time to time from P&G; they keep on saying, ‘Yeah, we’re still using your tool.’ So, this is something I was very proud of.”
When Iannone got to Keter, his immediate mandate was to help with the company’s financial reporting. With almost 20 facilities around the world and various reporting structures necessary to satisfy regulators as well as shareholders, the task was not a small one.
He said that while financial statements from Keter could be created, other elements of reporting were not in such good shape.
“When it comes to management reporting, it was really problematic,” Iannone said. “They had no standard view, no meaningful standard view. So, when I got in, what I call the job I’ve been doing over the first year and a half was rewiring the company. I needed to provide the company with the reporting that, by market, by whatever, we can assess the profitability of the company.”
Another element that Iannone is proud of during his tenure at Keter thus far is how he’s been able to make sure the company has a solid and consistent stream of indirect cash flow.
“I wanted Keter to finally have something that we didn’t have,” Iannone said. “Having indirect cash flow by every single legal entity is an important tool to drive cash and net working capital optimization. It is very important to manage a company by cash. You cannot do it only based on collection and payment, right? This is a big game changer, just like having each unit produce that indirect cash flow.”
While getting these two changes implemented is a feat on its own, Iannone is not resting on his laurels. He knows that in the current global economic situation, with high interest rates, stubbornly durable inflation, and a high degree of market uncertainty, continuing to evolve as a company will be key to Keter’s continued success moving forward.
And he wants these augmentations to happen at speed.
“When it comes to business strategy, we want agility and accelerate on footprint optimization,” Iannone said. “We need to continue our journey to improve our efficiency: this is key to compete in our markets. The other piece is to be more effective when it comes to cost base. Those are the short-term goals, really short-term. It’s not something that I’m looking at in 20 years. It needs to happen in the next one or two years — 18 months I’ll say.”
Iannone is not one to sing his own praises, and that is the way he likes it. While fame may be something other high-powered executives court, Iannone recognizes the challenges in accomplishing one’s goals and chooses to focus more on overcoming those than creating a high-profile public profile.
“I’m not a celebrity guy,” Iannone said. “I’m very low profile. I always believe that it’s very hard to achieve your dreams. You just go every day doing your best.”