This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Atlanta Steering Committee member Judy Romano here. To learn more about Judy and her involvement with The Atlanta CFO Leadership Council, check out her LinkedIn profile here!
The Atlanta CFO Leadership Council was launched in January 2015 with a very successful Networking event in Buckhead. The CFO Leadership Council provides great networking opportunity with peers and also offers an educational forum for senior financial executives.
“Habits of Highly Successful CFOs”. We had a great turn out at the Buckhead Club despite the bitter cold.
Our panel included:
Brian Beckwith, CEO, Formation Capital
Scott Dorfman, CEO, Innotrac Corporation
Bruce Duner, CFO, Bomgar Corporation
Sean Barry, CEO, Bridgevine
Christine St.Clare, Board Member, Fibrocell Science and Polymer Group
Here is a sample of some of the questions discussed by the Panel:
What make a CFO successful in his/her role? – The panel members agreed that role clarity is key; the CFO should be forward looking (understanding the past is critical but impacting the future is what is expected from the CFO). He/she should also take calculated risks. A strong and trusted relationship with the CEO is essential as the CEO views the CFO as his co-pilot; expects the CFO to help steer the business. In these situations the CFO many times finds her/himself acting more like a COO. In my most recent role in Europe with McKesson I had a similar role, which I enjoyed immensely. The successful CFO is also viewed as a strategic partner to the CEO. If/when the company is going through major changes and/or transition (going public, acquired by a PE firm, being taken private, etc) the role of the CFO is critical. It is understood that the CFO knows how to get the technical part of the job done, what sets a good CFO apart from a great CFO is his ability to work very closely with the CEO and other key stakeholders as they make decisions shaping the future of the business.
Importance of Communication style – Different communication style is required depending on who the CFO is communicating with. If the company is owned by a PE firm, transparent communication style is expected. The panel agreed that open, candid and frequent communication is a must with leadership to avoid surprises and also to address issues as they arise. Brian Beckwith, CEO Formation Capital used the phrase “Flex Communication Style” is the best – different style for the different audiences. The CFO should also be confident when sharing information with his audience. Brian Beckwith reminded the audience of one pitfall that some CFOs might fall in – not being concise, i.e. sharing TMI – Too Much Information. When communicating CFOs should be short and to the point mostly when the audience is the Board, Investors, Peers or employees.
Building a strong team – The panel urged CFOs to build a very strong team; know what you don’t know and surround you with a team who can “cover” your weaknesses. Sean Barry, CEO of Bridgevine Inc. recommended that CFOs should be allowed to build their own team and make their own decisions about the team. Good documentation of all processes was also recommended. “Hire smarter people than yourself” resonated amongst the panelists.
How can the CFO impact the culture of the company? – Successful CFOs should encourage openness; support the vision of the company and lead by example; should create a fact based company culture and drive accountability based upon meaningful and measurable KPIs. Incentives should be aligned to the long-term success of the company (70% company objective and 30% individual objective achievement was recommended).
There were many other valuable points discussed; the above was intended as a high level summary of the discussion.
In March we have a networking event coming up around March Madness and in April (16th) we will focus the panel discussion on “Building High Performance Teams”.
I look forward to seeing some of you in the Greater Atlanta area at one of these upcoming events!
[Editors Note: A huge thanks to Judy for writing such an excellent piece!]
Photos and More Information
For more information on this or any of the upcoming events The CFO RoundTable has planned, please click here.
Want to be the first to hear about our latest news and events? Subscribe now to our mailing list!
4 Key Attributes Every Top-Performing CFO Should Possess February 22, 2018 Article by Macon AlbertsonPresident, Tatum Professionals Defining the role of a top-performing CFO is growing more and more difficult as the responsibilities and oversight continue to expand well beyond risk management, regulatory compliance and all things financial. Even new terms for the “CFO” have been bantered about with some calling these executives Chief Future Officer or Chief Frontier Officer. These terms highlight the increasingly strategic role of CFOs to drive business decisions and prepare the enterprise for future growth. The truth is, CEOs want and…
What’s On Our Agenda For April? Take A Look At Our Outstanding Programs And Find The… April 1, 2016 We've been busy! And, as we get ready for our stellar 2016 CFO Talent Show in May, we are still diligently preparing our regular monthly programs for you. Here’s what’s ahead in April: Law School For The CFO Thursday, April 7 @ 3:30 pm The office of Freeborn and Peters, LLP, 311 South Wacker Drive, Chicago Presented by The Chicago CFO Leadership Council Join us for a chance to get practical legal advice straight from our experts, as we discuss major topics that CFOs and…
We’re Hiring! September 3, 2015 Great news! The CFO Leadership Council is expanding rapidly, and we're looking for a few excellent people take our organization to new cities and new heights. Ours is an entrepreneurial, creative organizatoin that develops cutting-edge CFO development programs across a diverse range of topics chosen by our membership. We’ve hosted representatives from law enforcement and military branches, venture capitalists, Fortune 500 CEOs, elected officials, professors and other thought leaders. And frankly, we're a fun group of people. We reserve the right to be biased here! We…