Group finance roles offer a broader spectrum of experience
For many years I have advised candidates who express a desire to be a CFO one day early on in their career to follow the group finance role rather than divisional opportunities.
The principal reason is that when you move into a divisional finance director role, you are usually exposed to one particular area of a business. In a global organisation, you may become adept at dealing with matters in one region, but typically you will not have oversight and expertise in a variety of territories.
In contrast, an individual who moves through the levels of the group finance function of an organisation will have a far broader spectrum of experience. Overseeing a group finance function will bring you into contact with every department across that business. Within that function, there will be departments that cover commercial, FP&A, internal audit, tax and treasury and more.
That simple comparison helps to explain why a candidate with a background in group finance leadership presents a more persuasive case as a potential CFO than someone who has specialised in regional finance roles.
The evidence delivered by the CFO Pathways research should prove powerful in the future when consulting with people at an early stage in their career, as well as those at a crossroads with a choice to make between the two contrasting directions.
So much depends on a person’s ambitions in both the short and long term. But if you are facing a choice between a divisional role and a group finance opportunity, this report might help you to make your mind up.