Top CFOs Advise: Focus on Company, Not Numbers

Strategic Finance

Time to time, I read very interesting articles that influence me a lot. A good idea has indeed a better effect on developing new inspirational ideas. I sometimes share my ideas with the reference of the source idea, but sometimes I share the source directly. This article is one of them that I keep it as it is to let the article influences you by itself. I hope it will help you to develop some other ideas around it. Here is the article published on the Wall Street Journal written by Kimberly S. Johnson in January 5th 2015:

“Accounting details take a back seat for some of the most successful finance chiefs. CFOs who outperformed their industry peers in the S&P 500 – based on CFO Journal’s 2014 rankings – focused on operations, strategy, and harnessing a broad range of experiences.

 

While there’s still a need for a strong background in finance and accounting, companies need dynamic leaders and that role is no longer confined to the chief executive role, CFOs say.

In their own words, finance chiefs on our list offer advice for success:

  1. Don’t get sucked into the numbers. Jay Rasulo, CFO of Walt Disney Co. says the role is much broader than just managing the capital. “If you’ve only grown up on the financial side, I think that’s a risk.”

Mr. Rasulo spent 15 years on the operating side of Disney, including chairman of the theme parks unit. He said the experience offered a different perspective on how decisions might impact the brand and strategy.

“You have to be in that game if you want to be talking about it,” he said. “Never forget what you’re going to tell the analysts this quarter by focusing on the strategy and making sure actions in the strategy really follow out. If you don’t follow the fundamentals, there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do when the numbers come out.”

  1. Move around. Having different roles within a company makes a good impression on a CEO and board of directors when picking the next CFO.

“It’s important to get as much diverse of experience as you can if you’re looking for the brass ring to move up,” says Gilead Sciences Inc. CFO Robin Washington.

Moving out of an accounting role early in her career, she says the roles in which she was more connected with the operational side of the business were “differentiating” for her career path.

“It’s really moving laterally. I think the best financial executives have worked in the field, worked abroad, in commercial and manufacturing” units.

  1. Be realistic. “Be aggressive about understanding where value lies and does not lie in your business,” says United Rentals Inc.CFO William Plummer. A company – and its CFO – should be able to evaluate which customers it can serve effectively, versus the ones it can’t, and make the appropriate decision. “Be very careful and focused about where your value comes from, and what are the things you do at a company that drag [you] down, that prevent you from meeting the customer’s needs and making a profit in return,” he said.

Understanding the levers of success and failure of the business is also important, says Snap-On Inc. CFO Aldo Pagliari. Developing good people within the finance unit and paying attention to detail is also key, he adds.

  1. Know your worth. “You really have to be seen as someone who brings value to your colleagues other business unit heads,” says Martina Hund-Mejean, CFO for MastercardInc.“You have to be able to help them with issues and problems. Because you’re there they can execute.”
  2. Have integrity. “The good CFO is really going to understand right from wrong and not compromise on that,” says Macy’sInc.CFO, Karen Hoguet.”

 

 

Note:

(1) Vipal Monga contributed to this report

(2) Mr. Kerim Kazgan’s e-mail noticed me about this report

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