Starting up as CFO: Your 3 Top Gun Initiatives

By Robert Rackauskas, Business Development Executive, Proactis

As the CFO of a new company in today’s challenging environment, you probably “feel the need…the need for speed” more than anyone in your organization. In the middle of all the fastness, you most likely have 180 days to establish yourself as a trustworthy, experienced, and ‘elite’ leader. Every journey is unique but there are some Top Gun initiatives that are crucial to standing apart from the rest.

These top 3 initiatives will support your ‘making a mark’ journey and the right way to make an impact and gain influence.
  1. Establish a 'Maverick-Goose' relationship
Many CEO and CFO relationships begin prior to the CFO being hired. Those CFOs who initiate a ‘day in the life of the CEO’ day will gain a better understanding of the CEO’s day-to-day operations and the organization’s strategy. This also helps you build the Maverick-Goose relationship. The earlier you get to know the CEO, the better you are as a wingman — aligning both visions and matching numbers against company strategy. Your strong financial acumen combined with your social connection will lend itself to sharp and smooth decision-making.
  1. Align your first 90-day work with your CEO’s objectives
Your CEO is responsible for setting the company’s vision and short, mid and long-term goals. As a CFO you are responsible for helping execute that mission while stabilizing a CEO’s renegade tendencies. One of the CEO’s objectives might involve growth through Mergers and Acquisitions. In order to be two steps ahead, start conducting your value creation audits of the potential targets - not only scrutinizing their financials but assessing culture and operational functions. Develop a risk analysis, determine acceptable levels and provide insight on how to mitigate it. Another aspect is to look at your company through an investor’s eyes and assess how you can increase the bottom-line - whether its by adjusting prices, cutting costs or gaining a percentage point of margin. Come to the flight with bold options that support revenue goals while achieving M&A activity. Mav will appreciate the fresh perspective.
  1. Assess your current talent…and renew or recruit talent.
Before unloading your agenda on your team, get to know them and learn how each role contributes to the organization. It’ll be important to see who’s stagnant, who’s productive, and where you have a need for additional hires. Have direct conversations with your team and observe them in action. Set a few goals in the first three weeks for each member and see how they work to achieve those goals. Assess your team's current initiatives and deploy a method to determine low or high probability of impact and cut those low impact initiatives loose. With this in mind, be sure to manage the status quo to shift with agility to gain more support from them.

Achieving these three initiatives requires a great deal of patience, listening, and observing in the beginning. In your first 3 months, it’s a ‘turn and burn’ ride. As Maverick would want it, be bold and proactively provide a flow of information and remember that making mistakes but learning from them is what will help you build longevity. 

To learn more about your top initiatives and the transformation journey you are about to start, view our tips and guides to get you started.