CFO career journey

Charitable board work for CFOs: win-win

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Charitable board work for CFOs: win-win

Our research shows that CFOs find a strong appetite for giving attention and expertise to community, social or charitable roles. CFOs can make a valuable contribution in this context because they apply the discipline and analytical skills that they bring to their core role to create better financial outcomes for the charity.

Ritchy Drost, CFO for European Broadband Operations at Liberty Global, says that this has been an important benefit to his role as a Member of the Supervisory Board of the Alzheimer Foundation.

“You can help the organization balance the short-term goals it has with a more long-term perspective,” he says. “With your training as a CFO, you have a good sense of how to translate the ideas and actions that a charity has into a monetary impact.”

Although it can be difficult to find the time to allocate to charitable roles, Mr. Drost and others argue that these roles also have a real benefit to their core position as CFO, as well as being potentially less time-consuming than a directorship at a listed company. Spending time on the board of a charitable body can also provide younger CFOs, in particular, with valuable boardroom experience and the opportunity to network with other business leaders.

“By spending time on the board of a very different institution, you gain a much better understanding of how groups work and how decisions get made,” says Mr. Drost. “This has real practical benefit because you learn about leadership, communication, group dynamics and all the other softer skills that are so critical to the CFO role today.”

Robert Blain, CFO of Cirque du Soleil, says that he has derived similar benefits from becoming involved with One Drop, an NGO focused on developing clean water and sanitation projects.

“You need to have a vision when you join such an organization, and it is not all about finance,” he says. “You’re trying to create a ripple effect through strategic planning, and you also develop a network because you are meeting people in a different environment.”

This article was excerpted from CFO and beyond: the possibilities and pathways outside finance.