My Utopia Job: CFO
Being a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a major Fortune 500 company would be my dream job. Capitalizing on a core base of competencies in accounting, cash flow management, and risk management, the CFO sits in the C-suite with a greater sense of purpose and a role that is instrumental in guiding the organizationâ€™s strategies (â€œChief financial officer (CFO) job description,â€ 2017). An understanding of management concepts, theories, and principles will help me achieve this goal to help me manifest a utopic career. For example, systems theory shows how the CFO fits into the overall organization and its interdependent, multilateral nature. Likewise, the CFO must have mastered the main management concepts like those we have studied in this class including control and coordination. The CFO is role that balances strategy, tactics, vision, ethics, and communication. To be a successful CFO, one must also master essential conceptual, interpersonal, and technical skills. Because the role of the CFO reflects both my strengths and my passions, it is an ideal and realistic utopia job.
My strengths include strong communication skills and empathy, strategy and planning acumen, and analytical and computational prowess. I also have a strong sense of ethics and loyalty. These are all essential features of an effective CFO. A CFO is in a position of leadership but not one that requires visionary or transformational capacities. Rather, a CFO comprises the major managerial responsibilities and therefore helps the organization to achieve its goals. A CFO also fulfills multiple managerial roles, often concurrently, requiring competency in a wide range of managerial activities including organizing, directing, decision making, planning, staffing, and controlling (Darr, n.d.). In fact, a CFO is in a better position to be a servant leader, one who places the best interests of the organization ahead of less important objectives. My self-effacing personality makes the CFO role even more appealing to me.
The CFOâ€™s Management Tools
The main tools in the CFOâ€™s management arsenal include strategic management, benchmarking, and change management (â€œTop Ten Management Tools,â€ n.d.). I may also rely on some of the other tools of the effective manager that we have covered in the class, such as TQM, but strategic management, benchmarking, and change management are the specific tools that apply best for my ideal position as the CFO of a major Fortune 500 company. Strategic management is one of the most central function of a CFO, someone who is entrusted with the ability to forecast risk and manage uncertainties by taking specific steps designed to protect the companyâ€™s interests, reach projected earnings, or enter new marketplaces. The CFO develops new strategies for issues like fundraising and tax management, staying abreast of changes to public policy and legislation that impact our industry.
Benchmarking is another management tool used by the CFO. A CFO develops and implements benchmarking methods that help our organization maintain a competitive advantage. Working with the managers of other departments, the CFO learns about issues and constraints such as supply chain challenges, the production time, and quality issues that all play a role in budgeting. From the CFOâ€™s point of view, benchmarking can even be considered the basis for strategic planning.
While all C-suite managers need to be effective change managers, the CFOâ€™s role is unique. Change management A CFO may draw attention to impending changes to the legal landscape in one of the countries in which our organization operates, or become aware of a new technology that would help streamline operations and cut costs. Alternatively, a CFO might realize that a competitor has been considering a major merger that threatens our position. Taking into account the major ramifications of external threats and risk, the CFO uses multiple means of managing change including collaboration with other members of senior management. Taken together, change management, benchmarking, and strategic management are the three most important tools for any CFO.
Of all the management concepts we have discussed in class, the one most pertinent to me in my utopic role as CFO is systems theory. Systems theory shows how each person or department is integral to the functioning of the whole organization (McNamara, n.d.). I recognize the role of the CFO as one that is collaborative and integrated into the C-suite, while also requiring personal accountability. The workplace design and function of the CFO entails as much time working independently as with other members of the management team. In fact, systems theory best fits my personal strengths as a CFO. Systems theory draws on my strength as a communicator and team player, someone who works within the ethical principles of the organization while also making suggestions to improve our performance, output, and positioning. I would leverage the concept of systems theory to build bridges and foster communication between various departments and external stakeholders too. The CFO recognizes the importance of forming strategic partnerships with industry stakeholders including members of the supply chain, policymakers, and others whose attitudes towards our organization may impact our ability to meet our objectives.
Boundaries and Role Clarity
Fortunately, I have a strong degree of role clarity and appreciate well-defined boundaries. I respect that other people will have strengths and competencies that I lack, and I would expect of my colleagues that they respect my position as CFO. One of the advantages of being a CFO is that we are empowered to make decisions: one of the most important management tools in any position. The boundaries I may encounter will arise during crises and change management implementation. Resistance to change may occasionally present challenges that require me to examine the companyâ€™s protocols and the roles assigned to each individual.
Even managers like me, whose natural leadership style is collaborative and transformational, need to recognize that we are in a position of authority. Our authority is something that entrusts us with responsibility to take action and make decisions in the best interests of the organization. We delegate tasks during the project management process to achieve incremental goals and long-term objectives. During the project management stage of any of our decisions, we need to maintain communication with our team, monitor the progress of any intervention or action taken, and use our authority to make changes as they are needed in order to account for unexpected delays or setbacks. Authority allows us also to make decisions independently, even when working in a larger or bureaucratic organization.
My utopian job is in the role of CFO because this position combines my best skills, interests, strengths, and passions. As CFO, many of my duties are computational and quantitative, including active benchmarking and the use of metrics to gauge company performance and compare our performance with our competitors. Other roles are softer, and involve communication and organizational politics. I understand that my role as CFO is a diverse and complex one, which appeals to my easygoing, personable, yet straightforward and pragmatic personality. I also recognize that my role may also be subordinate to the Chief Executive and the Board of Directors, who may at any point determine that the direction the company is taking needs to be changed, or even that its overall mission and vision need to change. When making major decisions like mergers or acquisitions or entering new markets in developing countries, I would play a major part in providing the quantitative data and educated advice needed to ensure our success.
The tasks that are part of the CFOâ€™s job vary considerably, and may also depend on situational variables such as the organizational culture, the industry in which I work, and the size of the company. Generally speaking, a CFO fulfills tasks that are linked to strategic financial planning. Both internal and external decisions pass through the CFO, who may help restructure departmental budgets, help the marketing, research, and development departments design new products or strategies, or allocate additional funding for corporate social responsibility projects. Other tasks include regular inter-departmental communications and the management of staff that help me and the rest of my department stay on track.
The Four Responsibilities of Management
One of the most fundamental principles of management are the four responsibilities shared in common by all managers: planning, organizing, controlling, and leading. Most of the time, these four responsibilities are deeply entwined so the lines between them can be blurred. However, an aspiring CFO like me needs to first differentiate between these four responsibilities in order to understand them better and implement them in the workplace environment. None of these four responsibilities is any more important than the other, but each situation may require one of these responsibilities to come to the fore. Therefore, I need to become adept and confident in each of these four responsibilities.
Chief financial officers engage in all types of planning responsibilities, including strategic and financial planning. Planning involves forecasting, which should ideally be based on quantitative data, modeling, and metrics rather than on guesswork. However, the extensive real world experience I have gained until I reached the point of being CFO allows me some degree of discretion and expertise, allowing me to make quick decisions when necessary. Planning responsibilities for the CFO also include creative strategies for enhancing the companyâ€™s performance, improving the market share, or promoting brand recognition and loyalty. Finally, the CFO would be responsible for planning organizational change related to anything from tax and legal issues to strategic mergers and acquisitions. By staying abreast of changes in the marketplace and being knowledgeable about competitors, the CFO remains responsible for a number of different planning activities. A team of personnel helps the CFO to effectively manage change and strategic planning objectives.
A CFO is also responsible for effective organizing, with big picture objectives firmly in mind throughout the decision making process. Organizational skills are crucial for the CFO, who is responsible for accuracy and accountability to meet legal and ethical requirements (Durr, n.d.). Software and other technologies can help the CFO with organization, especially with complex projects. The CFO can also rely on a team to help with organizing complex data sets and tasks that are concurrent and ongoing.
Controlling from a managerial perspective is not about wielding power, but about ensuring adherence to standards (â€œPlanning, Organization, Leading, and Controlling,â€ 2018). Metrics like production data, performance results, tax and financial statements, audits, surveys, and other data can be used in the act of controlling. A CFO remains responsible for particular types of financial controlling related to departmental budget allocations. Controlling functions are closely tied in with the other responsibilities of the CFO such as strategic planning and organizing.
Finally, the CFO is in a position of leadership. With a servant leadership perspective, I would always want to lead with the best interests of the organization in mind. Leadership depends on the cultivation of interpersonal and communication skills, which in turn require emotional intelligence, ethics, and empathy (Hilbert & Cunliffe, 2013). My personal strengths include the ability to actively listen and seek input from colleagues in a diverse occupational landscape, which allows me to make decisions after taking into account multiple points of view. Leading by example, I also feel responsible for mentoring those who may one day replace me in the important act of succession planning. Succession planning is an important but sometimes overlooked component of leadership, but one that is critical to the long-term success of the organization.
My ideal role is as CFO, and my ideal environment would be a thriving multinational Fortune 500 company. The management concepts and theories most relevant to me personally include systems theory, which places my role as CFO into the greater perspective of the organization and its mission. As CFO, I am responsible for strategic planning, change management, and benchmarking, all of which require a visionary focus as well as organizational skills. Mastering specific management tools like benchmarking help me to retain an evidence-based approach to organizational change and decision-making without needing to veer from a collaborative, people-focused approach to leadership. A CFO is a position, role, and responsibility that appeals to my passion for business and draws on my strengths as a leader.
â€œChief financial officer (CFO) job description,â€ (2017). Accounting Tools. https://www.accountingtools.com/articles/2017/5/14/chief-financial-officer-cfo-job-description
Darr, K. (n.d.). Introduction to management and leadership concepts, principles, and practices. Management Theory. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cc86/e5f3f4e8778c2450e693a8400c7650c27bea.pdf
Hilbert, P. & Cunliffe, A. (2013). Responsible management. Journal of Business Ethics 127(1): 177-188.
McNamara, C. (n.d.). Historical and contemporary theories of management. https://managementhelp.org/management/theories.htm
â€œPlanning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling,â€ (2018). Principles of Management. http://open.lib.umn.edu/principlesmanagement/chapter/1-5-planning-organizing-leading-and-controlling-2/
â€œTop Ten Management Tools,â€ (n.d.). http://www2.bain.com/management_tools/BainTopTenTools/2017/default.asp
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