Deputy Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

When Antoine Deschene (*) goes on assignment

(*) For confidentiality reasons, the name of the interim manager has been changed and the identity of the client hidden.



The client is a leader in specialised distribution on the European B2B and B2C markets. The group recorded a turnover of €1.9 billion in 2018 and is experiencing strong growth: it has doubled in size over the last five years thanks to market dynamics and a sustained external growth strategy. The client’s ambition is to reach a turnover €3 billion by 2025.

The group is governed by an executive committee (executive governance of B2B and B2C activities), headed up by the CEO and assisted by the finance director and human resources director. The group is owned by a well-known private equity fund.

The client integrates purchasing, logistics and data management functions across the board, enabling it to distribute its products efficiently through different sales channels, brands and chains, and thus to reach all customers in its sector.

Faced with the rapid growth, the finance department needed to be transformed and strengthened with the creation of a deputy CFO position. The new deputy CFO will be tasked with dealing with corporate and operational issues within the finance department, alongside the finance director, and creating a team aligned to achieve the group’s ambitious development objectives.

A prestigious headhunting firm has recently been mandated to find the right candidate.

In the meantime, the growth of the business, as well as the urgent and strategic projects underway, meant that the group’s management had to rapidly hire an interim manager, whilst waiting for the permanent position to be filled. WAYDEN was exclusively contracted for this purpose.



For this assignment, Benoit Durand Tisnes selected a high-level finance director with a background in similarly-sized retail groups (around €2 billion in turnover). Once the profile had been identified, the key to choosing the right executive lay in his or her personality. The risk with a profile of this calibre was finding someone used to a “high status” position for a role – and above all a group culture – that required extreme operationality. Antoine Deschene was the perfect candidate.

Focus on the career path of the interim manager

Antoine Deschene started out as a civil engineer, graduating from the Ecole des Mines and later from INSEAD in finance. Antoine has a solid background as a finance director in the media and business travel sectors, where he managed large multi-country, multi-cultural teams in remote contexts.

He is proficient in all aspects of cash flow and financing. Antoine has recently carried out two major interim management assignments on the transformation of the finance function in B2B and B2B distribution groups. However, it is his personality that makes the difference: Antoine exudes a natural authority – he is calm, reassuring, humble, precise, and above all, accessible.

This last trait was a requirement of the client, as their group culture is strongly focused on action and business. Antoine is just as comfortable working with the accounting team, as he is with listening, organising and launching projects, or with general management, reporting and decision-making.



The group’s management hired WAYDEN on an exclusive basis, requesting they put in place an interim manager as quickly as possible. The assignment began by organising the finance department and relieving the finance director of a number of tasks so that the future organisation could be prepared whilst the recruitment process was going on.

The interim manager had to immediately tackle issues within two main areas:

Corporate finance:

1/ Reporting, consolidation, budgeting and strategic plan activities, which are currently structured around and undertaken by the consumer manager and his team.

2/ Activities related to the central purchasing unit (a fully-fledged cross-functional BU), structured around an accounting manager, a back office (35 people) and a management control team.

3/ Management of the group’s treasury/financing department (1 treasury director and an external firm), which had historically been within the scope of the central purchasing unit, to ensure that it evolves over time.

4/ Supervision of the accounting and management control team.

Operational Business Units:

Taking in charge of “dotted-line” management (business partner) of the Business Unit (BU) finance teams (around 10 people) in liaison with local operational managers, and the newly appointed CEO of the B2B activity, the BUs being based in France and internationally (around 20%).



The assignment was a real success, enabling the client to structure a new function within a finance team that had been created by the finance director. Beyond the scope of the project that had to be managed, the real underlying objective was as much to ensure the successful implementation of this new management layer in a functioning team, as to make the new organisation work in the opinion of the finance director.

The latter also had to take on different responsibilities in order to gain confidence and move up a notch to focus on the company’s medium to long term strategy and top line operations.