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How to thrive in a downturn: A CFO perspective

The world is a different place, says the CFO of AB InBev. To meet the moment, companies need to prepare to react quickly to a range of scenarios.

During a McKinsey Live event, global editorial director Lucia Rahilly spoke with Fernando Tennenbaum, CFO of global brewing giant AB InBev, about the strategic challenges and opportunities of today’s uncertain environment: inflation, rising interest rates, geopolitical turmoil affecting supply chains and energy prices, and post-pandemic changes in consumer behavior.

Tennenbaum became CFO in April 2020, only a month into the COVID-19 pandemic and a time of maximum uncertainty. By planning for a range of scenarios and prioritizing nimble operations, the company was prepared to react quickly to the ups and downs of the pandemic, said Tennenbaum. AB InBev was then able not only to absorb the initial demand shock and subsequent supply-chain disruptions, but to invest in technology and innovation, leverage its existing footprint, and expand its market.

Similarly, in today’s volatile environment, said Tennenbaum, the key is to create optionality and have an engaged team prepared for multiple contingencies. “You need to have a Plan A, and if that doesn’t happen, have a plan B and a Plan C.” Then, “regardless of the twists and turns, you are able to meet the moment and deliver on your objectives.”

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For more on the topic, view the entire conversation and explore the package of articles and interviews on resilience on

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