The Finance Leader Podcast

070: CFO Career Planning

November 23, 2021 Stephen McLain Season 8 Episode 7
The Finance Leader Podcast
070: CFO Career Planning
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Show Notes Transcript

Your long-term goal of achieving the role of Chief Financial Officer is ambitious and will require planning, commitment, and hard work. You must be seen as a knowledgeable and professionally credentialed leader in Finance and Accounting. Commit to owning your career today so you plan out moves that contribute to you advancing. Be comfortable taking risk and have a written plan. 

Episode outline:

  1. You must own your career,
  2. The experience and background of the typical CFO,
  3. The CFO selection process,
  4. Become a leader in Finance and Accounting, and
  5. You need to start your planning and preparation today.

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Stephen McLain:

your long term goal of achieving the role of chief financial officer is ambitious, and low require planning, commitment and hard work. You must be seen as a knowledgeable and professionally credentialed leader in finance and accounting. Commit to owning your career today, so you plan out moves that contribute to you advancing, be comfortable taking risk, and have a written plan. I can't wait to see you succeed. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host Stephen McLain. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also please join the Facebook group that I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 70. And I will be talking about CFO role career planning and I will highlight the following topics. Number one, you must own your career. Number two, the experience and background of the typical CFO. Number three, the CFO selection process. Number four become a leader in finance and accounting. And number five, you need to start your planning and preparation today. US Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps said, I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work even if they are uncomfortable at the time. This is the last episode of Season Eight, the CFO series. The series like everything we do on the finance leader podcast is about inspiring you to do something differently, to become a leader to focus on your personal growth in skills that are beyond the technical requirements of your role. Also, our desire is to plant seeds in your mind to think about your future and accomplishing your long term goal. To achieve the role of chief financial officer you have to think differently, and your professional Foundation, background and experience must be competitive against others who are seeking the same role. I am asking you to start today, planning out your goals and to develop the necessary strategic skills. You need to stand out from the crowd by doing something amazing and your career. Prove it that you can handle the immense responsibilities of CFO set yourself apart by becoming a leader in a finance and accounting fields. And you have to do more than your daily list of tasks. I am also recommending listening to Episode 57 of the finance leader podcast about owning your career. If you haven't listened to that yet, please do so or re listen again for a refresher. The CFO is typically a credentialed, well educated professional, who has a thorough knowledge of finance and accounting concepts. Plus knows how to finance operations through both debt and equity, and also knows the tax implications and other implications of those choices. Additionally, CFOs have a broad experience background and have shown they have a strong understanding of business, not just in finance and accounting, but know how all the functions serve together to execute the strategy. The CFO must be a leader who can influence positive outcomes. I believe in learning leadership as a primary way to set yourself apart. Now What Got You Here Won't Get You There, you have to do something different. You have to take risk in your career, meaning you may have to move to other companies and other roles where you might move laterally multiple times and then up over time. If you ever feel comfortable, you most likely will not achieve your long term goal. Success requires some internal tension and conflict with yourself. You will want to achieve the next step and the next role. You must remain competitive in this field. Build your CV over time always thinking how a role your skillset and experience on a project or task and your entire development process will contribute to being selected as a CFO in the future. Now CFOs typically have a growth mindset, which means never stop learning. Be a curious leader always wanting to grow your knowledge, grow your skills and grow your influence. And every role you take on you need to be a student of the processes involved and learn every aspect of that job. I want to encourage you to be continually assessing your skills, experience and professional foundation and also be researching what companies are looking for in a CFO? What skills and experiences that are important to pay attention to market changes and you need to grow and nurture your network regularly engage with your network and provide lots of value back to them. Never forget to spend time in your network and help others succeed. See, to help others to make a key connection. Now to elevate your career above manager, you have to think differently, see yourself differently and act differently. You have to do more than just your daily task list. You have to deliver amazing results and how to do that will be through building a great team, you must be seen and be known as someone that can deliver greater than anyone else. You have to go above and beyond. Many people make the mistake believing that being reliable and competent within the task load you're given will get you additional responsibility, it won't. You need to present a bold idea or to save money to improve a process. To show off some amazing skills in front of people, you have to do more. Now let's talk about a few key points about CFO career planning. Number one, you must own your career. You are responsible for the decisions in your career, you are responsible for the level of risk you are willing to take. In the end, you are responsible for doing the things that will set you apart, and that will improve your chances to be selected as a CFO. Now there are things that will happen in your life that you cannot control. Life happens and opportunities open up enclose all the time, challenges pop up in your life, sometimes a door will close on you. But that is not the end. Sometimes a contact in your network will reach out to you randomly to make an offer for you. How do they remember your name, embrace life and the randomness of IT control what you can control. Focus on what you can control. Keep working at that. I have said this many times, and we'll say it a few more. In this episode, have a written plan to detail out how you will accomplish your long term goal, then includes educational goals, and what certification you will achieve and what roles you want to take on and what skills you need to improve on and always include it in a timeline. Number two, the experience and background of the typical CFO CFOs have a strong professional foundation in the way of a certification and advanced degree in depth business knowledge in a set of strategic and soft skills. The typical CFO was hired internally, stayed within the same industry, and had worked in a public company before most had experience as a controller as the head of a finance division. And they also had experience in Treasury and investor relations, which has been a new trend. Companies are looking now for CFO candidates to have some experience working with investors. The most recent studies show that nearly half of CFOs have an MBA is their advanced degree and over a third hold a CPA is their professional certification and license. Another valuable skill or trait the CEOs are looking for in a CFO is that do you have the ability to hold other leaders around the company accountable to financial and budget targets? We see that the CEO continues to want to be the team builder while the role of accountability follow us in the CFO. So can you hold others accountable. And the most important trend we are seeing is that companies are becoming more diverse. Now let's continue this trend. And to do that companies must continue to expand their pipeline of candidates for all roles. If we are to grow opportunities for all people and do that internally. We need to look at more many more sources for candidates. So let's continue this trend. Number three, the CFO selection process, expect the selection process to be lengthy and in depth depending upon the industry and the company itself. expect the company to outsource the candidate searching if they will be looking externally for a candidate. Companies often are using an executive search firm to look for candidates the board will be looking for a particular set of experience and skills. They will look in depth at your career, where you took risk and where you added value. This will require many interviews focusing on your mindset, your strategic skills, your ability to solve problems as part of a team. They are not looking at your experience from an individual contributor perspective. But as a leader of finance and accounting professionals, the current executives have to be comfortable that they can work with you and trust you with the most difficult problems. This could be a lengthy and time consuming process. And you will have tough competition. Now when interviewing Can you answer from an organizational and strategic perspective? Now I also want to share with you a few key interview questions for you to consider. When you face that selection committee. It has a couple the first one what is the difference between growth and scale? Can you explain the difference between growing a company and scaling a company? The next one is how would you grow a company of $5 million to $50 million? What What do you need to do to accomplish that? Now, here's another Where do you think we could add value to this company? Now? What is the process when your team and company is not achieving its goals? Now, here's another good question. What do you see as the external risks of this company? Now these questions I shared with you this is a good peek into some of the questions that you will get is something that you have to consider. Can you view the company as a whole? And how do you add value to it? How can you grow this company from where it stands today to a company that the executive board wants to go to in the future? Now, number four, become a leader in finance and accounting? I know that leadership will set you apart, the great leaders build great teams, and they become great because of your focus on their development and care. And the great team you build will help you accomplish organizational goals. Are you the type of leader who people want to follow and not the one that people follow due to coercion or fear, I'm talking about the one that requires a special character of competence, caring, commitment, and getting things done the right way. Through leadership, you can take action on what problems need to be solved. Through leadership, you can create clarity around expectations. CFO selection committees are looking for a leader who can clearly communicate their vision and achieve buy in from others. And number five, you need to start your planning and preparation today. Do you have a written plan? Do you know where you want to go in your career, today is the time to get started working on accomplishing your goal. To achieve the role of CFO, today is the time to work on your growth mindset, which means how you see yourself and how you see yourself growing in the profession of finance and accounting. Now your career is yours to plan and execute. We all know there are some randomness that will alter our plans as we go through life. These are things beyond your control. And we can still have a plan with the things we do have control over, which are our mindset, our perspective, our attitude and the approach to our goals. I want to encourage you to keep working away at your long term goal, and what it will require to get there. Achieving the role of CFO requires an investment in yourself in many ways. Companies are looking for a certain set of skills, a certain mindset in a credentialed Foundation, and background. They want someone who can partner with the other executives to solve complex problems, and who can deliver amazing results and who can stay calm in a crisis. What are you doing today to work towards that goal? Now for action today? Please consider the following. What is the vision for your life? What do you want to accomplish? What lifestyle do you want? What life events like marriage or children are important to you? Do you have a plan for what you want to accomplish and for your vision? Plans change based on your desires and what happens in your life that you don't control? But planning is invaluable? Never stop planning plan for the things you can control? Do you have a written out and clear long term goal? And do you have a plan that supports your long term goal and consider the roles background and experience that companies are looking for in a CFO? Never stop planning, revising and assessing your goals? Every time you accomplish a goal or learn a new skill update your plan. Today I talked about CFO career planning and highlighted the following points. Number one, you must own your career. Number two, the experience and background of the typical CFO. Number three the CFO selection process for become a leader in finance and accounting. And five you need to start your planning and preparation today. Today in season eight of the finance leader podcast season eight hopefully has helped many of you to start assessing and planning your career to start looking at and changing your mindset to start building and developing your Strategic skills. And to make sure you have a written individual development plan that has a timeline, continue to learn leadership and to take some risk in your career. Next week, I will be sharing a series of bonus episodes until we get to the start of 2022 and we will be talking about how we will plan to accomplish all next year. As a reminder, I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. Since they don't work. I only believe in written goals with a plan. So don't fall for everyone talking about resolutions coming up over the next five to six weeks. We focus on a well planned goal achievement process. Resolutions are fleeting thoughts built on the emotion at the time instead of a solid plan. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I'm dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you achieve the role of chief financial officer. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance Winter and sign up for my weekly updates see you don't miss an episode and now go lead your team and I'll see you next time thank you