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10 things the CFO wants from the CIO

Steve O’Neill | Sept. 21, 2012
Our respective spheres of influence have changed in business since I first started working, with focus oscillating between IT and Finance depending on latest technology, market trends, the economy and growth agendas.

They should have an opinion or at least ask questions for understanding of all the items on the agenda.

Otherwise why are they there?

3 Be humble

Selling yourself is important, but don't become blinkered by your own brilliance. The best business minds are always looking at how others do things, and learning from both successes and failures.

Be open to others ideas and be prepared to admit if you got it wrong and to change your direction if necessary.

4 Be commercial

By the time people reach the heights of the C-suite, the skills that got them there may no longer be relevant for the task in hand.

This is as true for CEOs as it is for CFOs and CIOs.

Being a great programmer or a good number cruncher is fine when you work in a programming or numbers-focused role, but of little direct use when it comes to making the big decisions at the top of a business.

Actively take an interest in the business strategy, external economy and your own personal development.

CIO's and CFO's need to be Business Leaders first and have IT and Finance responsibilities second.

5 Be present

This always creates a dilemma for senior IT and Finance leaders.

Do you sit in the ivory tower of the C level floor and be seen by your people as too distant and not interested in them or do you sit with IT and Finance at the risk of being seen as just an IT or Finance person by the business?

As a senior executive, you represent your department to your customers, both internal and external. As a CIO or CFO, company employees should know who you are, as should your business' customers.

If they don't, how can they have any confidence in the abilities of you, your team and the service they deliver?

Make opportunities to present to wider groups across your organisation and in the external business community to build your profile.

6 Be timely

As in comedy, timing is everything. Whether it's planning a system upgrade or pitching the board for more budget, your timing has got to be spot on.

If sales are down and profits are under pressure, is this the right time to ask for bigger budgets next year?

Understanding the business, as in point 4, is crucial in being able to know when the time is right.

7 Be optimistic

I'm not talking about saying everything is fine when things clearly aren't, but being upbeat and offering solutions instead of focusing only on the negatives is key to your credibility across the C-suite.

For myself as a CFO I have a hundred reasons to say No to any request, the secret sauce is to find the Yes in a given situation. Yes makes things happen and drives innovation, No stagnates the business and maintains the current status quo.

 

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