Road to CFO for Finance Professionals

An introduction to the road to CFO of a finance professional on a blue background.

A top executive in charge of overseeing a company’s financial operations is referred to as the chief financial officer (CFO). Also, the chief financial officer’s responsibilities include monitoring cash flow, budgeting the company’s finances, identifying its financial strengths and shortcomings, and recommending corrective measures. The road to CFO is only for those with genuine ambition.

If that describes you, you probably already place a high priority on your educational and professional ambitions. Is your goal to become a CFO? If it is, then this is the right place for you.

Types of CFO

CFO of a listed company

Focus will be to manage the shareholders and launch strategic plans within the group.

CFO of a division

The role here is to drive the performance of the business and make sure you apply the group strategy.

CFO of a medium size company

The tasks are more diverse within finance (accounting, tax, treasury, compliance, analysis, M&A), and the role can sometimes be extended to an additional function like operations or human resources.

CFO of a small company

Here, the role is more hands-on, and the CFO needs to master the doing of many topics as the team is smaller and there are fewer experts.

CFO of a start-up

The main goal will be to help finance the growth through external shareholders or banks. On the operational side, the CFO of a start-up needs to focus on implementing tools and processes which can scale with the growth.

Which Skills Do You Need on The Road to CFO?

Here are the required skills.

You will be a leader in the company, and you need to drive the people.

Business partnering
You need to work hand in hand with the other departments to bring value to the company.

Technical skills
Depending on the role (see above), you need more or less deep knowledge in accounting, corporate finance, FP&A, tax, treasury, and systems.
However, you always need to demonstrate that your understanding covers all the topics. Even when you don’t have deep knowledge, you are able to bring internal or external resources to help you make a decision on these topics.


  • You need a proven track record where you have demonstrated the skills listed above.
  • Additionally, you can acquire experience by navigating between technical and analytical jobs, which gives you a broader profile.
  • To help you in your career, make sure that you always have one job which was really close to operations.
  • Start with a smaller team and get more and more responsibilities along your career or get diversity in your role.

The Bottom Line – The Road to CFO Is Not Easy, But It Is Possible

The road to CFO is a challenging but rewarding journey. It requires a combination of strong financial skills, business acumen, and leadership abilities.

Above all, CFOs play a critical role in the financial strategy and decision-making of a company. Additionally, they are responsible for managing financial resources, analyzing financial data, and providing financial guidance to the rest of the organization.

Therefore, to reach the CFO level, individuals typically start by building a solid foundation in finance and accounting. In addition, they gain practical experience through internships and entry-level positions. Moreover, continuously learn and develop their skills through continuing education and professional development opportunities.

However, the road to CFO is not easy, but those who are committed and willing to put in the hard work can achieve this prestigious position and make a significant impact in their organization and industry.

Finally, if you want to learn more finance skills and become a high-performing finance professional, you can take my course.

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