Author(s): Robert Howell

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“Becoming a Strategic CFO” appeared as the cover story in the April 2012 edition of Financial Executive, the award-winning publication of Financial Executives International (FEI).  Since 1931, FEI has been recognized globally as the leading organization to advance the success of senior-level financial executives. The magazine helps shape corporate financial management practices to improve decision-making, productivity and performance.

The premise of Professor Howell’s article is that developing into a strategic CFO necessitates almost a complete about-face, thinking forward instead of looking backward, focusing on the nonfinancial rather than the financial elements of critical decisions and with an external rather than internal orientation.

Professor Howell emphasizes that CFOs and their high potential staff must develop their strategic mindsets. There are a number of major operating, investing and financing decisions, which are as much strategic as they are simply financial decisions. CFOs must intimately understand the strategic and value-creating/destroying implications, as well as the short-term financial implications, if they are going to truly be strategic CFOs. This premise mirrors the driving concept of the executive program that Professor Howell founded and directs –  Strategic Financial Leadership – an intensive five-day program designed specifically for senior financial executives and their high potential financial staff who increasingly are being asked to go beyond the numbers to become stronger, more confident business partners.

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