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almost 2 years ago by Liz Gilliver

CFO to CEO - A FTSE 100 Journey

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Following on from our successful “CFO to CEO” event that GRG Executive Search hosted in conjunction with EY earlier this month - A great hit and here are some highlights...

Along with around 60 senior finance directors from the region, we were given the unique opportunity to listen to David Sleath (CEO, SEGRO PLC) and Andy Parker (Former CEO, Capita PLC) as they reflected on what it takes to move from a career in accountancy to the number one role in one of the top 100 UK listed companies.

Chaired by our CEO, Tony Gleeson, the discussion offered a very personal insight into the journey of becoming CFO and then CEO and also an in-depth perspective on the good, bad and unexpected aspects of running a large listed corporate.

Below are a few pieces of advice for people who are looking to take a step into general management or just looking to develop professionally:

“If you try and fix everything yourself you’re going to die under the weight of it. What you’ve got to get comfortable with is not fixing stuff and living with uncertainty and going to sleep at night not knowing the answer to a problem.”

“To make that transition away from finance you’ve got to have a genuine interest in the business, and coming from finance you have a unique opportunity to understand the drivers of the business, but if it’s just looking at numbers for numbers sake it’s not going to help you, you’ve really got to be able to utilise what the numbers mean.”

“The reason why I think I made a half-decent CEO and was considered for the job was because I was more interested in the business than in the numbers.”

Be brave: “Things I regret are the things I didn’t do, the investment decisions that we didn’t take. It’s easy to rationalise why you didn’t do something but it’s harder to stick your neck out and say, let’s go for it.”

“You’ve got to force yourself to take a bold position and back your judgment. If you’ve done your homework and the facts are there, and your instinct is there…you can’t have perfect knowledge, it’s only with hindsight you know exactly what to do. Have the courage of your convictions and be brave, because it’s not necessarily the thing you naturally wanted to do coming from a finance background.”

“It’s a bit like climbing Mount Everest, you’ve got to get your base camp right, you’ve got the finance function really humming, get people who are over qualified, preferably some that can take over from you or succeed you at some point in the future, get a really good team in place and then spend as much time as you can out in the business.”

It was an extremely memorable and thought-provoking evening. The panel and audience were fantastic and based on the feedback we received everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

For a full transcript, please e-mail Bianca.fowler@gleeson-rg.com.