By Adam Sookia, Assistant Director, Deloitte

I have seen first-hand how the role and responsibilities of CFOs have become increasingly complex in the last decade. For those aspiring to the CFO role, the pressure and burden can seem overwhelming and a huge step up from their current responsibilities. Speaking at the recent Deloitte Next Generation CFO Programme alumni event in Leeds, an experienced CFO from the Yorkshire market spoke of his insights and top tips into the role.

Here are some of his lessons about what it takes to attain the CFO role and be effective as the business environment and expectations of CFOs change.

Relationships are key

  • The relationship between the CEO and CFO is paramount, the CFO is there to challenge the CEO (in private) and support them in public / in matters involving other stakeholders
  • It’s necessary to surround yourself with the right people, hire people who can challenge you and your ideas
  • Trust and empower your team to learn, make mistakes and grow into their roles
  • Make sure the people you interact with get one version of you, people shouldn’t be worried about what mood you will be in. Be aware of how approachable you are, not just to familiar faces but to new faces as well.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Communicate regularly with the relevant internal and external stakeholders – and, if anything over communicate. You never know who you might need support from
  • Communicate with honesty, but choose the right environment and circumstance in which to do this
  • Get people on side by having regular bilateral conversations.

The world of work

  • Experience in different sectors can be invaluable, especially for a CFO role
  • If you don’t understand how or why a decision has been made – challenge it
  • You don’t always need to seek advice/counsel when making a decision, but it is important that you learn and take the best from those you look up to.

Are you okay?

Both physical and mental health in the workplace is important. It is critical to foster a culture where people feel comfortable to disclose any issues, and know that those around them can support.

The Deloitte Next Generation CFO Programme is a great springboard for the development of future CFOs. The programme provides participants with unique insights into the role and requirements of CFOs and a network of like-minded individuals.  Since launched in 2012, almost 150 next generation CFOs have been personally nominated to participate in our Yorkshire & North East programmes.

Of those who attended our last Next Generation CFO Programme alumni event we asked a few questions.

Some really interesting stats came out of the group, including:

  • 80% of participants said they had increased their roles or responsibilities since attending the Deloitte Next Generation CFO Programme.

It is encouraging to see such a high portion of those that responded to this question saying they have increased their roles and responsibilities since attending the Deloitte Next Generation CFO Programme. It is important that our business leaders of the future are being given the opportunities to develop and be challenged in new areas.

  • 46% said their team leadership skills had been developed the most since attending their Next Generation CFO Programme workshop – with communication and reporting and presentational skills coming a close second.

Developing skills at every level is essential both to the growth of business and for the local economy. It is encouraging to note that our Next Generation CFO programme participants are continuing to develop key skillsets.

  • Looking forward, key priorities to allow people to improve in their role include learning and development (40%), organisational change (20%) and investment in infrastructure (20%).

Learning and development is clearly of paramount importance. However, the right team structure and environment is needed to allow leaders to flourish. Investment in operational infrastructure will allow teams to focus on value accretive activities which should improve productivity and overall motivation.

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Adam Sookia

Adam is an Assistant Director at Deloitte, based in our Debt and Capital Markets advisory team. Adam typically works for borrowers and advises on a wide range of debt related services, included Refinances, Acquisition Finance and Covenant Re-sets. Adam joined Deloitte as a graduate and has been actively involved in our Talent agenda, including hosting University Career Fairs, Graduate recruitment & interviews and facilitating new joiner induction programs. Outside of Deloitte, Adam is an avid Leeds United supporter and keeps fit by playing football or chasing after his 2 year old son.

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Matt Henderson_new


Matt Henderson

Matt is the lead partner for the Deloitte Next Generation CFO Programme in Yorkshire, and also leads the Transaction Services team in Yorkshire and North East, based in the Leeds office. His focus is leading on due diligence assignments for buy-side and sell-side transactions for private and public sector clients including private equity. As part of this role he co-ordinates the delivery of broader services including commercial, taxation, IT, pensions and SPA related services. Matt also leads on Deloitte Private and the healthcare sector in the region.

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