Welcome to our new Nordic CFO

We are delighted to welcome our new CFO, Christian Barakat, to the Nordics. Christian brings extensive experience to our company thanks to his previous positions as CFO, his expatriations to Austria and Slovakia and 12 years at BNP Paribas Group. We met Christian to talk about his new role, and we discovered, among other things, that Christian has a passion for numbers, people and boxing.

Welcome, Christian. Would you share some of the milestones in your career with us?

Yes, of course. I joined Cardif in October 2010 in a part-time position while completing my Masters in Management Controlling. After graduating, I got a full-time job and became in charge of Central Europe follow up.

In 2015, I decided to move to BNP Paribas Personal Finance as I wanted to work more with NBI and modelling, and eventually – thanks to my experience in central functions – I became curious about what it would be like to work in an entity. By coincidence, I was offered an opportunity to go to Vienna for 6 months to implement the management control department, and it was such a nice experience that I knew it would not be the last time I lived abroad.

This interest led me to Bratislava in 2018 to become deputy CFO for Central Europe.

A year after, I was offered the Regional CFO and ExCo Member position for Central Europe. It was not a small challenge for a 30 year old man as I was, but I have always trusted the opportunities I have been given. I am now in the Nordics for a new experience and I am sure it will be good!

What are you looking forward to mostly in your new position?

For me it is all about people. In this Nordic position I will be much closer to the teams, and what I am looking forward to more than anything else is discovering the local people (particularly in the Finance department), the local ExCo, discovering the country and environment and seeing how we click together.


What are your ambitions for the department, and what will be your first move?

My very first move will be the closing of 2022. Joke aside, it is important that we deliver all our processes with high quality, and it is important that we deliver while having fun. It is a global trend that Finance people are under a lot of pressure, and that is why I emphasise that Finance people must also enjoy themselves while interacting with each other.

The people in the Nordic Finance teams are all seniors. They know their responsibilities and how and when to carry out their tasks. My role is to give meaning to the teams: Why do they have to get up and go to work every day? That commitment will also be one of my first moves.


What are the main qualities of a CFO and a leader?

I am convinced that a CFO must support the business. A CFO should not only explain numbers, but must act as a strategic alliance for the business, supporting its strategy and ensuring its profitability.

In terms of expectations for a leader today, I believe we have to act as coaching leaders. It is all about being there for the teams, to truly listen to them, to work in trust and benevolence, and giving them the vision of where we want to go and coaching them on how to get there. My responsibility is also to help them develop, stay engaged and take pleasure in their daily task.


Which skills/experiences from your past do you think will be particularly useful in your new position?

I can certainly draw on my previous experiences as a CFO, but perhaps we should ask my former colleagues. They usually highlight my focus on business, customers and strategy. And by customers, they intend both external customers and the internal ones, i.e. people in the organisation. This focus will also be useful in the Nordics.


What are the primary benefits working in BNP Paribas Personal Finance?

The Group’s strength is its people. All the different people and cultures that you meet and can learn from both professionally and personally – it is a great asset

For the local entities, I think the central functions are of great value. You are not alone in figuring out all situations, you can always rely on support from central.


What do you think will be the primary challenge of being French living in Denmark?

That is easy. It will be finding good wine. Or perhaps I will manage to find it, but it will be three times as expensive as in France. On top of that, I have Lebanese origins, so I also need to find a good Lebanese restaurant. Feel free to share your recommendations 😊


What energises you?

Boxing. Boxing is my passion. It teaches you to focus during stressful periods, it is good for your body and it is good for your mind. And yes, I have already booked my first boxing classes here in Denmark.