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The elevator to success is out of order, you have to take the stairs: How to become a CFO

How to become a CFO

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Being a CFO is not a role that you can step into with ease, nor indeed is any senior position of this ilk. CFOs have years of experience that has given them a wide base of knowledge regarding the function of finances and businesses. In addition to this, their experience makes them capable of dealing with many scenarios as, in all likelihood, they would have come across them before.

In Fortune 100 companies, 69% of CFOs are promoted internally. While it is hard to predict when people will leave an opening like this for you to step into, here are the steps you need to take to make sure you are next in line for your dream CFO role:

Any CFO will have a broad range of experience. To become a CFO, you too will have to amass a similar spread of experience within the industry. Whether this is working in a finance group for a company or working as an auditor, the experience gained will be invaluable.

While there is no direct progression from these roles to CFO, they will allow you to demonstrate that you have the basic skills and have spent some time perfecting them.

Your experience does not have to limit itself to working a small role in a large company. You could take up a more significant role but in a smaller organisation. A leadership role in a non-profit organisation, for example, will expose you to a business process in a way that other roles might not.

If you are driven to reach the top, do not settle into a role where you will cease to learn anything. If you are finding that no new scenarios are coming up, don’t be afraid of new opportunities. When you are more senior there are numerous advantages to staying in the same job but, if you are just starting on your path, you need to gain as much different experience as you can.

From this wide base, you can adapt the focus of your role. This will use the financial skills you have gained whilst allow you to develop business acumen. A role in financial planning and analysis will teach you a lot about any business’s needs. It will also get you in the door for more senior positions as you would have become an asset to your employer, being able to understand finance and having good commercial sense.

These are the skills you need to be a successful CFO but, to really make yourself stand out from the crowd, you need to show that you can deploy your skills. While an employer will know that you have the skills, they will want to see you use them so that your appointment to CFO is one that they know will work and not one they must take a risk on. To demonstrate this, try to find a role in risk management, investor relations or a similar field. These are tied to finance but will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your other business skills. From here, you will have gained the skills necessary and proved that you can apply them.

By following all these steps, you would have shown that you have all the essential financial and business skills to thrive in the role of CFO, and help the company thrive too. If you have all these skills, and a CFO opportunity comes up, the final stage is to take up the CFO job. Being a CFO is a demanding but rewarding job that allows you to shape the future of your company.

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