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 some Top Gun initiatives 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 before the CFO starts. Those CFOs who initiate a ‘day in the CEO’s life will gain a better understanding of the CEO’s day-to-day operations and the organization’s strategy. Starting your relationship off early on also helps you build the Maverick-Goose bond. 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 quick and smooth decision-making.

  1. Align your first 90 days with the 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. 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 it's 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.

Before unloading your agenda on the team, it's essential 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 require 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 the 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.

Achieving these three initiatives requires a great deal of patience, listening, and observing in the beginning. In your first three months, it’s a ‘turn and burn’ ride. As Maverick would want it, be bold and proactively provide a flow of information that supports the CEO's goals. 

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.