#7 Securing Your First CFO Role with Andrew Waters

GrowCFO Show Episode 7 Securing your first CFO role With Kevin Appleby and Andrew Waters

Andrew Waters has been involved in finance search and recruitment for the last 15 years. He’s recruited quite a number of CFO roles. So when it comes to securing that elusive first CFO role then Andrew knows a thing or two. On this episode of the GrowCFO Show we chat about the qualities that a first time CFO needs to have. We also take a look at the state of the recruitment market. we conclude by talking about how the future CFO programme at GrowCFO can help you secure that first CFO role

About Andrew Waters

Andrew waters is co-founder of Zanda.

The biggest challenge in securing your first CFO role

CEOs look for experience, and the biggest challenge is to demonstrate you have this. Generally they want someone who has done it before, an experienced CFO, so getting the first role is a huge challenge. Its likely that the candidate will have to demonstrate an ability to:

  • Be a true business partner to the CEO
  • lead an investment role
  • Prove commencial awareness
  • must be able to influence board

The last point is one of the most difficult if its a first CFO role. Its likely other board members will have years more experience and are better placed to understand the business and the sector it operates in. The new CFO has to hit the ground running with a helicopter view of the sector and how it works.

So How do you leap from head of finance to first CFO role?

within FTSE or large private equity can manage several in eternal promotions and eventually het to partner with divisional CFO. Then make jump externally

In smaller business work way up to no 2 to CFO with controller & FP&A reporting to you, prove you are a strong no 2 and been across all the detail, had some exposure to transactions.

Does a first time CFO need all the skills?

Whether you need all the skills in your first CFO role really depends on the individual opportunity. It will hinge around the skills of the CFO and whether there is good finance support from a strong group controller.

The balance of skills required by a CFO is also constantly evolving. 10 years ago it was important the CFO had an operations focus. In the next 5 years the CFO is more likely to need strong data skills and have an information officer as a direct report.

Sometimes a roll can need strong tech skills, other times strong transactional skills. It all depends on the company and the other people already in the team.

Whats the market like right now?

The CFO recruitment market is very strong right now. From March – July there was virtually virtually no movement. Lots of roles were put on hold, many of these have come back and are now being actively recruited.

This August has been better than previous years, September is on a par with a normal year. Zanda deals with a lot of tech firms, lots of venture capital needs to be deployed and for many of these pandemic has been an accelerator.

GrowCFO Future CFO Cohort Programme

GrowCFO are actively developing future CFOs through the Future CFO programme. This includes a Cohort Andrew started planning the programme with Dan Wells just before lockdown.

Each cohort is formed from a group of peers all pursuing a CFO role in the next 12 – 24 months. It comprises a group of 10/12 people from diverse but complimentary backgrounds. The peers support each other through the development challenges. It takes people on a journey over 12 months with a 2-3 hours a month commitment.

The first 6 months focusses on the CFO development toolkit. This looks at all the skills and experiences a CFO will need, and is broken down into 10 core competencies:

  • Leadership
  • Core qualities
  • Technical strength
  • Technology advocate
  • Commercial awareness
  • Strategic Business Partner
  • Operational drivers
  • Closing the books
  • Transactions
  • Financial Planning and Analysis

This identifies strengths & development areas and gives a development plan and a route to grow into the CFO role over the next 12 months.

The peer group is supported by existing CFO mentors and subject specialists to supplement the learning peers can give each other.

Future CFO Online Programme supports getting the first CFO role

There’s an online training programme that runs alongside the cohort. The training is available to premium members of GrowCFO. The programme is accredited for 40 hours of CPD and extends across 9 modules.

Securing your first CFO role using the Future CFO programme in GrowCFO

The nine modules take you from senior finance professional than impactful CFO.

Becoming C-Suite ready

Beyond the first 6 months, where you have looked at core skills, there’s need to address other areas. You need to be c-suite ready. Before you apply for your first CFO role you will need to:

  • Address your personal brand, including your linkedin profile and cv
  • Develop the right connections to get noticed
  • Improve your engagement with the top table

Landing and owning your first CFO role

The final 3 months cover the process of securing the role & making it a success, this might include:

  • Help with the internal promotion
  • How to approach the interview
  • Your first 100 days plan in the new job
  • Supporting you to learn about your board colleagues and how to deal with them
  • Making sure you don’t forget your own personal development

How do you find out more?

Fill in the cohort application form, there’s a new group kicking off every week. Dan and the GrowCFO team will swiftly review the application and offer you a place on one of the cohort groups starting in the next few weeks.

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