Skilling up: How to be hired for the next big role
Career AdviceFinanceDevelopment and Transition
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December 13, 2018
Career AdviceFinanceDevelopment and Transition

Financial Director

The Financial Director article, “Skilling up: How to be hired for the next big role,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Oliver Staple on how to best prepare and prove that you’re ready for your company’s next big role. The article is excerpted below. 

Making the big leap forward to the role you’ve been building towards, such as group CFO, can often mean having to build out skills to develop your profile. 

For many it can be adding a new function such as treasury, for others it can be for the first time having to understand how to engage with stakeholders. 

Adding these key elements may come from additional responsibilities, sitting on other boards or working with mentors and coaches. 


Out of the comfort zone 

Oliver Staple, consultant in the corporate officers sector at global search firm Russell Reynolds, says making a successful bid for is about building the requisite skills and experiences to be considered for greater authority and responsibility. This is achieved through a variety of activities which can involve pushing and stretching oneself beyond the day-to-day and out of one’s comfort-zone, he says. 

“In order to enhance team building and leadership capabilities, individuals should seek out opportunities to expand their roles and responsibilities by picking up ancillary functions together with wider sector or regional responsibility. Seeking greater exposure and opportunities to present to the executive committee and board will improve communication and stakeholder management skills. 

“Equally, taking on NED or charity board positions will serve to give greater confidence and stature in this domain. Actively pursuing opportunities to present in public and become involved in topical company initiatives, such as diversity, data and digital will increase visibility and raise your profile, not to mention increase the perception of you as a confident driver of change within the company,” says Staple. 

He advises finance professionals to start trying to view their work through the lens of the business, and increase this interaction professionally and socially: “How are your colleagues in the front office approaching matters? What are their drivers and concerns? The more you can truly understand some of these nuances, the more effective you, as CFO, can become as commercial business partners adding value”. 

Staple says it is vitally important to garner advice from peers and mentors before taking a leap forward to a top role. He says this is critical to development and needs to be approached with an open-mind and a willingness to listen to others. “By having self-awareness, development conversations can help to identify where the gaps are and how to progress these into strengths,” he adds. 


Confidence game 

Russell Reynolds’ Staple says that whilst mentors within in an organisation are clearly in a strong position to observe and offer advice, the objectivity of a coach can also be extremely helpful and increasingly. “We are seeing clients look to such professionals to help support and develop up and coming talent,” he says. 


Becoming a CFO involves greater internal and external scrutiny of one’s work, and with this comes increased pressure and the need for emotional resilience, says Staple. “As a company leader, you need to find the balance of technical excellence with strategic contribution and business development. 

“It is essential for new CFOs to consider the bigger picture and not get too caught in the weeds. Confidence is king; to be promoted to CFO, enough decision-makers must believe in you, so go forward with assurance and build on the skills that you possess to truly add executive value,” he says. 

To read the full article, click here.