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Do you think finance departments are the best place to try future CEOs? Any company, corporation has the diversified system of management. Financial management is the key factor in the management of any corporation. After a certain period of working for the corporation financial officers are able, of course to move to the higher level of management. After gaining the certain experience, understanding the processes inside the corporation financial officers have the chance to move to the chief executive level. But one should note that the very essence of CEO and the CFO is a little bit different.
CEOs are people responsible for the policy of corporation, its strategic course. The CEO of course needs to know all financial aspects of the corporation he or she is running. From this point of view it is better, of course to search for the candidate for the high managerial level at financial department. There are a lot of aspects of managing corporation besides the financial ones. The financial officers are not responsible for the strategic course of the company development and this explains the fact that we can not assume that any good CFO may become the CEO. CFO may be compared with the ambassador providing the investment policy of the corporation.
Being the key officer in the managerial staff of the corporation, CFO has to find the right mechanisms to provide the general course of the company management. Normally people in the career climbing are fighting for the level of responsibility for the decisions they are ready to take. This is the main engine which pushes people in their career building. A very good financial officer normally is doing his job and his activity is linked to the financial aspect only. The paradox is that the better financial officer is the more he is narrowed by the financial aspect.
The CEO should consider the financial aspect of the corporation as one of the aspects only. If the CFO can be compared with the ambassador, the CEO is the president of the corporation. There is a very indicative example of such approach. A very experienced financial director of one African gold mining company was appointed as CEO.
Within the first months of his activity he signed futures contracts, which are for the gold that had not been mined yet. In some months the world price for the gold jumped up. The result was the corporation got very big financial losses. Of course there are a lot of objective reasons could be mentioned, but the most important is that as a CFO he acted in an absolutely right way, but as CEO he had to take into consideration possible price raise on the world market. As a CEO he had to predict all events that could influence the gold price. On the other hand, when company is employing the financial officer it should realize what they want of this officer.
In Japanese companies, for example it is the part of the corporate culture to grow up the high managerial staff within the corporation. It is a very good approach, but now the companies trend to employ the high professionals in any sphere of activity. The evolution of the employment approach is very good observed in the former USSR countries. In 1990 s the CEOs (former directors of the enterprises which were in the state properties) were not changed. There was a system of accounting, a system of personnel management, a system of sales etc. The plants manufactured goods which were supposed to be sold by all means.
In new market realities CEOs happened not to be able to build the system of financial management, system of marketing and system of sales. The enterprise or a corporation is too much complicated mechanism to be run by an expert (though a very good one) in only one sphere of the companys activity. Financial department is, by all means is the closest aspect to the general management of the corporation, but it is only one of numerous. Normally the CEO is the person with the good experience plus a great talent.
One can not say definitely what factor of mentioned above is more important for CEO, but the second feature is obligatory. There is one more example of the successful CEOs carrier building. When VALCO (Volta Aluminum Corporation) started building the plant in Ghana, one man who was not even educated properly, applied to the management of the VALCO offering taking away all debris from the construction site. The management agreed and he signed the contract on cleaning the territory and taking away the waste, slag etc.
from the plant. Later he employed an expert who worked out the technology of extracting the pure aluminum from the waist in considerable amounts. Now he is a very prosperous businessman. What was the more in his career, talent, flair or the financial management? Anything, but not the last factor. CEO is the top of the managerial career.
CEO should both have a very broad experience and, by all means an outstanding talent. The financial sector is by all means is the closest to the strategic planning of the enterprise. The future career of this or that individual is very much depends upon the human factor. This is the responsibility this or that individual is ready to take.
When we observe the stock exchange operations we realize that this competition in its nature is the competition for responsibilities, struggles for evolution. A people are programmed to compete by their nature and normally winner is that one who has the necessary knowledge, experience and a talent. While speaking about the goals of the financial officers experience for the future CEO we should note that the post of the financial officer is one of the best to jump to a higher level in the carrier. The modern business with its complicated processes requires the financial officers get involved into the business activity completely. If formerly the role of the financial officer was restricted by accounting only, nowadays the financial officers are involved into strategic planning. From this point of view the position of the financial officer is one of the best starting points to the high management.
Modern business requires the financial officers think broader. There is no a very well shaped criteria for the CEO. If, say we can express the requirements for the financial officer and even CFO due to his sector of responsibility, the CEO is responsible for the whole corporation and it means that the human factor is the crucial in appointing the CEO. Bibliography: Rucker McCarty - How a CFO can graduate to CEO - Corporate Finance; London; June 1999 A. Astafyev The New Vision of the Corporate Management in NIS Business Unlimited. Ukraine, Kiev, November, 2003 N.
McArthur The Psychology of Management, Toronto, 2001 V. Krivoshein, Ph. D The Management of The Enterprise; Kiev, 2000
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