The responsibilities of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) are often far more diverse than many people think and certainly include more than just the capability to maintain financial records. Not only is a CFO responsible for ensuring all a company’s financial records are kept up to date in a correct and legal manner but they are also responsible for the people that maintain those records and so a little knowledge of human resources is beneficial. As the company the CFO works for is probably not an accounting company, a knowledge of the business which the company is in is also a distinct advantage and may be one of the qualifying factors on the person getting the job as CFO in the first place.
The reason why the CFO needs to be knowledgeable about the type of business the company is in to is because often, they are asked to assist the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company to formulate plans for the company’s future. Although the CFO will certainly need to know the company’s financial status when making these plans, the CEO may also enquire of the CFO the financial status of some of their rival companies. This is information that the CFO should have readily on hand but the CEO often appreciates any input that the CFO may offer and that is where knowledge of the business becomes essential for a CFO. Throughout the year, the financial records will probably some peaks and troughs but they mean nothing unless the reason for them is known. Any accountant may be able to recognize the peaks and troughs on statement sheets but it the knowledge about the business which will hopefully allow the CFO to correctly identify the reasons for them. Once these ups and downs in the accounting records have been identified and the reasons for them is known, and downward trends can hopefully be avoided in the future whilst any upward trends can be made the most of, hopefully allowing the company to beat their competitors in these times of extra business.
maureen o’connell is a successful CFO who currently works for the Scholastic Corporation, a global publishing company which specializes in children’s books and educational publications. She has been in this current post since 2007 and so has become well versed in the problems that the company sometimes faces but, it was her experience prior to joining Scholastic that taught her about the publishing business. After graduating from New York University with two majors, O’Connell started work, first as a public accountant and then later as a CFO for several different companies. It was perhaps the fact that all the companies that O’Connell worked for were companies involved in the publishing business, one being Barnes and Noble, which brought O’Connell to the eye of Scholastic but whatever the reason why Scholastic employed her as their CFO, it certainly seems to have been a good decision as; as well as being the CFO, she is also the Chief Administration office rand an Executive Vice President for the company.