How to Act Like a CFO Before You Are One


In a nutshell, the CFO role means transitioning from number cruncher to business partner and strategic advisor.

This means that if your brass ring is a top level seat at the C-Suite table, ask yourself if you have the strategic and communication skill set to get there.

If the answer is yes, then read on.

Ground Decisions in the Big Picture
As the CFO role expands beyond the borders of traditional compliance to forward-thinking strategy, it has become increasingly important that recommendations are grounded in the company’s overarching vision. And whether you’re a Controller flexing your cash flow projection skills, or making suggestions to mitigate risk exposure in your role as Director of Finance and Administration, establish yourself as the person who offers strategic direction based on the big picture. Make suggestions to refine processes to create efficiency and if you’re in a leadership position ensure that everyone understands how their role connects to the company’s vision.

Be a Team Builder
Fundamentally, great CFO’s need to be strong communicators and team builders. For you, this translates into a willingness to be a team player, do the grunt work if need be, but also communicate a desire to lead an initiative. Put another way, develop a collaborative communication style, build business partnerships cross-functionally and aim to develop a win-win approach to problem solving – all skills fundamental to the success of a CFO.

Get Educated
In their article entitled “What Makes a CFO the Best” Noah P. Barksky and Anthony H. Catanach identify graduate level education as critical to paving the way to the CFO office. With 84% of their sample CFOs reporting some type of graduate education, primarily an MBA with a concentration in finance or accounting, it makes sense for you to consider building your educational resume.

Want to be a CFO? Then start adopting some of the strategies of the best ones. Be a team builder. Ground your decision making in the overarching vision of the organization and pursue further education. There could be a seat at the C-Suite table waiting for you if you do.