Looking after the finances of a company is generally the responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who is responsible for the finances including the recording of those finances, the accuracy of the finances and the presentation of any financial reports that may be asked for by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), President, Board members or even stockholders. This of course means that the CFO must have good qualifications regarding accounting and usually a good amount of experience in the world of accounting. According to maureen o’connell scholastic Corporation’s CFO, knowledge of accounting is not all that someone will need to have a successful career as a CFO in a major company. O’Connell maintains that there are other skills that a CFO needs to have in order to be successful. We have already mentioned that the CFO is responsible for giving presentations and so the CFO should be experienced in public speaking. O’Connell says though that a large part of a successful CFO’s job is giving advice to the CEO and not just advice about financial matters, she mentions that the CFO is usually a main contributor to how a company moves into the future, advising the CEO of changes in policies that have to be made from time to time in order to keep the company competitive. If this is true then a CFO, as well as having knowledge of accounting, must also need a good knowledge about the business the company is in. In O’Connell’s case this is certainly true as before she became the CFO for Scholastic which is a publishing company, she had worked for numerous other companies and all of those companies were also in the publishing business. This means that before she started with Scholastic in 2007, she had already learned a great deal about the publishing business and could now put that knowledge to work in order to assist Scholastic.
There is little doubt that even if O’Connell is exaggerating a little, a CFO’s list of responsibilities can be big and diverse and so not any accountant could probably become a CFO or not a successful one anyway. As for O’connell, she certainly is a successful CFO as since joining Scholastic, not only has she maintained her position as the company’s CFO but she has also become its CAO (Chief Administration Officer) as well as being named an executive Vice President of the company. All this probably means that if an accountant wants to advance to become the CFO of a large company, if they continuously change employers, they should at least ensure that all the different companies that they work for are in the same line of business. This will ensure that as they continue with their accounting work, they will also be learning about that particular business, placing them in a better position to later ask for a CFO job with a company which is in that same line of business. Of course though there are few CFO jobs compared to the number of accountants there are and so only a few will be able to reach the pinnacle of their profession.