Want to become a CFO? This skill will make you a desirable candidate


Yesterday, I presented new data concerning the transition from CFO to CEO. If you are aiming for a CFO role, here are some insights from hiring executives that may give you an advantage.

Scott W. Simmons, the co-managing partner of executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates, emphasized the importance of P&L (profit and loss) experience for CFO candidates. He highlighted the increasing trend of prioritizing operational finance skills when considering CFO candidates. Managing the P&L requires overseeing revenue and cost fluctuations and having a comprehensive understanding of the organization's finances. Thus, possessing a deep understanding of capital generation, capital allocation, and ensuring positive cash flow is considered crucial.

Saori Casey, who previously served as VP of finance at Apple and is now the CFO at Sonos, emphasized her experience in managing Apple's total company P&L and contributing to scaling the company's revenue from approximately $65 billion to nearly $400 billion. She also highlighted her expertise in investor relations and engagement with board members, gained from collaborating with various business functions.

Similarly, John Murphy, the CFO and president of the Coca-Cola Company, had substantial P&L experience before assuming his current role. He had held successive P&L roles in different regions, providing him with diverse and extensive operational and financial experience.

According to Crist Kolder's Volatility Report, a significant portion of current CFOs in Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies previously held positions as finance chiefs at other companies, corporate finance executives, corporate controllers or chief accounting officers, and divisional presidents. The report also indicates that a majority of sitting CFOs hold an MBA, with the number surpassing those with a CPA credential.

Looking ahead, CFOs predict that their role will increasingly focus on driving enterprise-wide strategy and long-term business success, aligning closely with the rest of the C-suite to identify new value-creation opportunities and deploy resources strategically. This reflects a shift in the finance function towards greater collaboration and integration with other business functions.  

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