By Josie Cassano Rizzuti, MCM, APR
Instructor – Financial Management, McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management
The intersection of finance and communications were top of mind on the first day of the MCM Summer Residency. We wrapped up our Financial Management course, which started during Winter Residency. Through the term, we had spirited conversations about how economics and social issues influence one another. Communicators and marketers need to understand how economics and financial factors impact stakeholders, society and culture so that they can speak with confidence to other business managers and inform strategic decision making.
Financial Management is one of the core management courses in the MCM program. This course was specially-designed to teach creative professionals the business acumen needed for developing effective strategies to support their organization’s senior leadership and financial goals. These strategies are necessarily informed by macro and microeconomic contexts and include an intersectional lens with Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In our course, topics are uniquely designed for communicators and marketers who are able to help align qualitative and quantitative factors to help lead and drive decision making.
I’m proud to lead this course after six years of apprenticing as a teaching assistant under instructor Dr. Paul Bates, Certified Professional Accountant (FCPA), experienced board advisor, former CEO of Charles Schwab Canada and former Dean of the DeGroote School of Business. This year I was supported by teaching assistant Gerald Mak, MCM alum, and strategy manager at Metrolinx, the Ontario government’s public transport agency.
The MCM finance course challenges students to integrate quantitative financial perspectives into their communications strategy and leadership. We cover topics as diverse as reinforcing key accounting principles, considering a corporation’s responsibility to its various stakeholders, assessing the financial health of the firm, planning future financial performance, financing operations, and evaluating investment opportunities.
It is important for communication directors and chief communications officers (CCOs) to understand the decisions and responsibilities of financial managers and the objective of financial management so that they can better ensure their communication management efforts are aligned with the company’s responsibility to its stakeholders – stockholders, employees, customers and society.
We welcomed some great guest speakers during the term. At residency we had Dr. Bates himself, who came and spoke about finance fundamentals. Marc A. Wojno, MBA, senior editor at ZDNet, a leading American technology publisher, joined us to speak about the Future of Finance: Blockchain, Crypto and DeFi – contrasting topics that helped us look back and then forward. During our second online session we welcomed Craig Laviolette, vice-president finance, Siemens Energy Canada, who visited us to talk about finance, communications and effective dashboards. Students appreciate guest speakers because of the stimulating discussions, insightful Q&As, and key takeaways that come out of the sessions.
Some great finance concepts emerged as we reviewed the use of ‘poison pills’ by referencing another historical event – the Mittal takeover of Arcelor, which was one of the largest in history and one that I personally experienced as an employee of Dofasco as we were caught in the middle of the hostile takeover bid. Students were encouraged to read and learn some of the many finance and communications lessons from this example and Cold Steel was part of the class reading list.
I applaud the students who were keenly focused on learning the ropes of financial management while dealing with a lingering pandemic, ‘the great resignation’ and other unforeseen circumstances. Kudos to cohort MCM15!
Josie Cassano Rizzuti is a marketing & communications strategist and sessional instructor, Financial Management, MCM program. She has spoken at communications and public relations events and global and local conferences with McMaster University, for organizations such as CPRS and the Women’s Network. Josie is proactive about developing safe and secure digital global communications and is dedicated to the advancement of education and women. An ally and advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion. She enjoys running, yoga and cycling in her free time.