4 Key Traits for Today’s CFO

By Jessica E. McClain, CPA, CISA, PMP, CITP, CGFM, Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital – June 21, 2022
4 Key Traits for Today’s CFO

When I was interviewing for my current position as the chief financial officer (CFO) of Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, mentors encouraged me to highlight how I would be a partner to the CEO in driving strategy for the organization. Additionally, in preparing for my interview, I began reading about what makes a CFO successful in today’s complex and ever-changing business environment. In my reading, I learned that the role of the CFO has not only evolved but expanded in scope with increased responsibilities. The role requires new skills, knowledge and expertise. The words strategic, collaborative, communicator, data-driven and future thinking were themes I consistently read of what it takes to be an impactful CFO.

Future-Thinking Leader

Today’s CFOs must not only look backward and report on past financial results, but they also must be able to look around corners to steer the organization. CFOs are anticipatory and should be well-versed in soft and hard trends and how they impact and shape their organization, competitors and industry. In addition, CFOs must help their finance teams and organization adapt to change, whether it is entering a new market, adopting a new regulation or addressing social issues raised by investors and activists. Furthermore, agility is essential for CFOs. As the pace of change for business has accelerated, organizations’ ability to pivot and address the needs of stakeholders is critical. Finally, CFOs need to align the C-suite and organization to have a unified vision on how to move their organization forward.

Collaborative Business Driver

CFOs are CEOs’ co-pilots in shaping and executing an organization’s strategic vision; with that, CFOs must understand how the organization operates financially and operationally. CFOs are value creators who build sustainable growth for their organizations. They are partners to the entire C-suite in driving business performance through operational excellence. They do this by having a voice in challenging the C-suite’s assumptions and pushing them to think beyond the status quo. CFOs play this role by bringing financial insight and data to flesh out new ideas and initiatives, and they build bridges to ensure alignment and commitment to achieving overall business goals. Thus, making data-driven decisions is essential to driving business growth.

Data-Driven Decisionmaker

An organization’s most valuable asset beyond its employees is its data. Being able to capture and synthesize its data will propel an organization forward. Organizations that harness their data will differentiate themselves and make critical business decisions that drive transformation. CFOs will lead their organization down the path of this transformation with increased data literacy, implementing controls to ensure data accuracy and completeness, collaborating with data experts, and garnering the entire organization’s support. It must be said that capturing and analyzing data is essential, but the ability to communicate what the data means is more important.

Effective Storyteller

Being able to tell a story of numbers is a critical skill for CFOs. CFOs understand how their organization’s strategy impacts its stakeholders; thus, effectively communicating financial results and strategy effectively to stakeholders is essential in this role. Connecting financial data to strategy is a valuable tool as CFOs must deliver financial information to stakeholders on what it means for future growth and performance of the organization. When communicating, CFOs should speak succinctly and with transparency using a regular cadence that will provide assurance to stakeholders, which is especially important during these disruptive, uncertain and chaotic times. Being a strategic communicator is vital for building credibility for the finance function and the organization.

Today’s rapidly changing, complex business environment has presented many challenges to CFOs and thus has changed their areas of focus and priority. As a result, CFOs have more influence on their organizations’ direction. The role of the CFO is one of being an impactful, collaborative and data-driven communicator who navigates the organization to the future of success.


Jessica E. McClain

Jessica E. McClain

Jessica E. McClain, CPA, CISA, PMP, CITP, CGFM, is the chief financial officer at Girl Scouts of Nation's Capital.

More content by Jessica E. McClain:

 

 

Related events

September 30, 2022Live Webcast
Featured
September 28, 2022Live Webcast
September 29, 2022Live Webcast
October 3, 2022Live Webcast
October 12, 2022Webcast Replay
October 14, 2022Live Webcast
October 18, 2022East Brunswick
Middlesex/Somerset Chapter
Accounting & Auditing Update
October 18, 2022Live Webcast
October 18, 2022Secaucus
October 18, 2022Iselin
October 19, 2022Live Webcast
October 19, 2022Live Webcast
October 19, 2022Live Webcast
October 20-21, 2022Live Webcast
October 20, 2022Live Webcast
October 21, 2022Live Webcast
October 21, 2022Webcast Replay
October 25, 2022Paterson
Passaic County Chapter
Pension Update
October 27, 2022Cinnaminson
Southwest Jersey Chapter
A&A Update
October 27, 2022Montvale
October 28, 2022East Hanover
October 28, 2022Live Webcast
November 1, 2022Live Webcast
November 2-3, 2022Live Webcast
November 2, 2022Live Webcast
November 3, 2022Spring Lake
November 4, 2022Live Webcast
November 7, 2022Live Webcast
November 7, 2022Live Webcast
November 8, 2022Live Webcast
November 8, 2022Live Webcast
November 9, 2022Spring Lake
Monmouth/Ocean Chapter
Social Security and Medicare
November 9, 2022Live Webcast
November 9, 2022Live Webcast
November 10, 2022Live Webcast
November 10, 2022Live Webcast
November 10, 2022Live Webcast
November 11, 2022Live Webcast
November 15, 2022Live Webcast
November 15, 2022Paterson
Passaic County Chapter
Federal and State Tax Update
November 15, 2022Live Webcast
November 16, 2022Live Webcast
November 16, 2022Webcast Replay
November 17, 2022Cinnaminson
November 17, 2022Secaucus
Hudson Chapter
IRS Update / Tax
November 17, 2022Spring Lake
Monmouth/Ocean Chapter
Depreciation/1031 Exchange
November 17, 2022Live Webcast
November 18, 2022Paramus
November 18, 2022East Hanover
Essex Chapter
Annual Tax Seminar
November 18, 2022Live Webcast
November 18, 2022Webcast Replay
November 21, 2022Live Webcast
November 21, 2022Live Webcast
November 21, 2022Live Webcast
November 22, 2022Webcast Replay
November 28, 2022Live Webcast
November 29, 2022Iselin
November 30, 2022Live Webcast
December 1, 2022Live Webcast
December 2, 2022Cherry Hill
Southwest Jersey Chapter
Annual Tax Seminar
December 2, 2022Live Webcast
December 3, 2022Edison
Middlesex/Somerset Chapter
All-Day Tax Seminar
December 6, 2022Secaucus
Hudson Chapter
Accounting & Auditing
December 8, 2022Live Webcast
December 13, 2022Paterson
Passaic County Chapter
Accounting & Auditing Update
December 15, 2022Webcast Replay
December 16, 2022Live Webcast
December 20, 2022Spring Lake
Monmouth/Ocean Chapter
Tax Update
December 21, 2022Live Webcast
January 5, 2023Paramus
Bergen Chapter
State Taxation Update
January 5, 2023Cinnaminson
January 6, 2023Live Webcast
January 10, 2023Paterson
Passaic County Chapter
K2/K3 Update
January 13, 2023East Hanover
January 13, 2023Live Webcast
January 17, 2023Bayonne
Hudson Chapter
New Jersey Tax Update
January 18, 2023Webcast Replay
January 20, 2023Webcast Replay
January 25, 2023Live Webcast
January 26, 2023Live Webcast
January 31, 2023Webcast Replay
February 15, 2023Live Webcast
February 16, 2023Live Webcast
February 28, 2023Webcast Replay
March 22, 2023Live Webcast
April 21, 2023Paramus
Bergen Chapter
Special Topics
April 21, 2023Live Webcast
April 25, 2023Clark
April 26, 2023Live Webcast
April 28, 2023East Hanover
April 28, 2023Live Webcast
May 2, 2023Secaucus
May 4, 2023Cinnaminson
Southwest Jersey Chapter
Not for Profit Update
May 12, 2023Live Webcast
May 16, 2023Paterson
Passaic County Chapter
Data Analytics / ESG
May 17, 2023Live Webcast
May 19, 2023Webcast Replay
June 21, 2023Live Webcast