The role of a CFO today is ever evolving, raising the important question of how do you know who to hire?

Alongside the CEO, a CFO is arguably one of the most important roles within a company today. No longer desk jockeys bound by spreadsheets and numbers, nowadays CFO’s are campaigners of strategic initiatives, championing improvements and efficiencies.

But, when it comes to hiring a CFO, how do you know who to hire? The ‘who’ is an important question and can be a challenge to answer. Finding the ideal candidate can be the defining moment in the direction of any business.

Inevitably, a CFO must work in close partnership with a CEO. Perhaps the key to hiring a CFO may not just be in their skills and expertise but is about finding someone who shares similar values to the leadership, understands the goals and is a good cultural fit for the business.

Callida understands how vital a good CFO is to any business. Helping organisations navigate these challenges is a core competency of Callida’s. We can support businesses in all aspects of the finance area, including finding people to fill the CFO role.

Ross Lawler, a Senior Principal Consultant at Callida, is currently acting as the CFO for a local Canberra organisation.

Ross was engaged to develop the long-term strategy and investment decisions for the future of the organisation. As an outsider, he has the benefit of being able to leverage the expertise at Callida and bring a wealth of personal knowledge and experience.

Ross notes one of the biggest challenges for clients is not knowing or understanding what type of CFO they need. While there are obvious skills and qualifications a CFO must have before being engaged, there are also many other factors that play a role in a recruitment decision.

One such factor is finding the right ‘fit’ for your organisation. This ‘fit’ is different for every organisation. For most, it’s about finding someone who can quickly identify problems and help to implement successful strategies to steer the business in the right direction.

“The value for clients is that I am acting as both a consultant and a CFO. I can implement financial policies and help to advise on what type of CFO the client needs. Understanding that there are different people for different businesses – do they need a strategic CFO or a finance geared CFO?”

Ross himself knows all too well the challenges a CFO faces, having previously worked in various finance and management roles throughout his career in both the public and private sector. It’s this experience that has helped shape his approach to each project.

“Experience helps to identify what type of finance function will work best. This can be dependent on things such as the maturity of the organisation or skill level of executives. Because at the end of the day, you’re shaping the finance function, while keeping the business going.”

Finding the ideal candidate can be a challenge and where larger organisations can fill the role internally, smaller companies may not have such opportunities. In some cases, there isn’t a clear organisational structure for staff to step into executive roles.

Ross notes “unlike larger organisations, small businesses generally don’t have a clear succession plan in the finance area. This makes it especially difficult when a company needs to urgently fill the role of a CFO.”

Callida offers value to clients by imbedding their employees in businesses, becoming a true member of the team. For Ross, working as the CFO for a local Canberra organisation he has the advantage to gain a deep understanding of the financial data and, importantly, the people at the heart of the business.

This insight fosters better decision making to help drive efficiency and growth for the client. All the while, we are learning the nature of the business to understand the ideal CFO ‘fit’. So, when it comes time to fill the role permanently, we can advise on the ideal candidate.


Callida has the expertise to support CFO’s and organisations to transform their finance functions and strategies. Contact Callida to find out more about how we can help your business.

Today’s CFO: Finding The Right Fit is the first out of two articles on the modern day CFO. Coming up next is an article on the changing face of the public-sector CFO.

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