CFO career journey

8 steps CFOs can take to prep for the board

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8 steps CFOs can take to prep for the board

Our research suggests that there are eight important steps that CFOs and future finance leaders can take to prepare for executive and non-executive board positions.

1. Develop a coherent CV

Boards and nomination committees are increasingly adopting a more strategic approach to achieve the right mix of experience on both the management team and board. This means that recruiters are now often looking for particular experience, such as M&A, capital markets or rapid-growth markets.

2. Take on roles outside finance, and even business

Board roles on charitable trusts, government taskforces or cultural institutions can help CFOs to develop important skills to take them toward their next career goal, as well as providing rich and fulfilling experiences in their own right.

3. Build networks

In recent years, boards have taken a more transparent and independent approach to recruiting directors. But nevertheless, to be considered for directorship roles, it still helps to have the right contacts among senior business leaders.

4. Develop a personal profile

In the past, CFOs have been accused of not doing enough to build relationships with the outside world. This is changing, but a CFO seeking a directorship or onward executive step should still work on building a public profile for themselves that extends beyond their core role.

5. Gain international experience

Companies increasingly expect board directors and senior executives to have spent time in different countries. Experience of rapid-growth markets is particularly desirable.

6. Build relationships across the business

CFOs that enjoy a wider range of potential career opportunities and are most in demand for executive positions are those who can demonstrate breadth, by having moved beyond the traditional finance role to assume wider business and commercial responsibilities.

7. Don’t get stuck at headquarters

Finance professionals who have yet to reach the group CFO position should ensure that they get a range of experience, both at headquarters and in country roles. Spending time in a country role will give finance professionals greater exposure to the commercial aspects of the business, and the ability to handle a broader range of issues that will provide valuable experience.

8. Start planning early

It is never too early to start planning the next step. CFOs that spend their entire careers in the finance function will be at a disadvantage to those who have taken a more structured approach to career planning.

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