No sector is more controversial than the arms industry.

Although UK defence giant BAE Systems makes products for the aerospace and other civilian markets, it is recognised chiefly for the excellence of its military equipment- nuclear submarines, armoured vehicles and combat aircraft.

Many would assume that selling such materiel means it sits outside the usual reputational and governance concerns companies have to address, but the reality is it has to take run a strict line in brinkmanship. Just ask its CFO Peter Lynas, our lead interview.

In the US market- the biggest in the world- it has to present itself as an American player to win big contracts, made possible by its acquisition of Lockheed Martin 2000. At home it must address the needs of a highly-unionised workforce at a time when the leadership of the Labour party, which is scenting possible victory in the next election, is calling for denuclearisation.

And then there are challenges around doing business without kickbacks that have been a feature of the aerospace and defence sectors. And most visibly there is the controversy stirred up when its equipment is used by Saudi Arabia in the high-profile Yemeni civil war, where appalling civilians are commonplace.

In this respect Lynas, CEO Charles Woodburn and chairman Sir Roger Carr need to operate a set of business models that prioritise shareholder demands and the various expectations of stakeholders including government, unions, workforce, NGOs and so on.

Finance plays a crucial role in finessing these models and driving strategy and Lynas’s extended set of responsibilities reveals the key role he and his function play in delivering continual commercial success.

There will be many who condemn the use of BAE’s technology- its Tornado and Typhoon aircraft and missiles made by its MBDA joint venture- because of the danger they pose in the hands of despots. Others will say that rivals operating without any operating codes would happily step in to replace them.

There will be plenty of other voices saying that the brutal realities of war or subjugation of civil dissent, even with its horrific impact on civilians, is a fair price to pay to maintain well paid, blue collar jobs in the UK- especially as we enter the post-Brexit environment.

Those arguments aside- this profile of BAE’s CFO offers the perfect insight into the CFO as co-pilot to the CEO, helping to drive strategy in the pursuit of long term value creation