Why Reputation Management Matters

Have you noticed how often CFOs are forced to step down or resign because of some unethical or questionable behavior? True or not, once that story hits the Internet it goes viral … within minutes.

And what happens to the career of that Senior Finance Executive, who is a) innocent and has a very accomplished track record or b) despite a brilliant career made one bad decision … once the first 3 pages of Google are full of nothing but every single negative thing that has ever happened in this CFO’s life – relevant to the charges or not?

If there is no foundation of credibility already established, it will be very difficult and take a long, long time to recover from the viral assault of digital dirt. And, it is quite possible that this Chief Financial Officer would find his finance career finished. If the only public information available is negative … regardless of whether or not it’s true … what will most people believe about him? What “he” says on his resume or what “everyone else” says?

On the other hand, if this same CFO finds himself hitting a bump in the road and has a strong record of both visibility and credibility, his chances of recovering, and recovering relatively quickly, are much, much better. His long record of accomplishments already owned the first 3 pages of Google’s high-value real estate, and perhaps even extended to the first 5-10 pages. Any negativity can be countered, or at least balanced, with all of the positives that already exist. And, because his name is already friendly to the Google search engines, he can quickly begin supplanting the negative comments, innuendos, and charges.

As in every other phase of career management, it is much easier to build and control your reputation now, while you are gainfully employed and delivering solid contributions, then it will be if you find yourself in crisis mode.

The Internet, Web 2.0, and Google are the new normal. You can either get in the game and play to win … or not. Because, you are who Google says you are.

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3 thoughts on “Why Reputation Management Matters”

  1. Cindy

    Absolutely. The challenge many CFOs face is that they do not work to create their own brand, so once any news comes out with their name on it – it is very hard to overcome.

    Being visible on the web is a very important strategy for career success. Taking an active part in being visible, which include an appropriate LinkedIn profile, Facebook page are key. Thankfully a good number of CFOs are taking action in this area, even if they are not currently in a career change process.

    Being proactively visible includes blogging, microblogging and being part of online discussions. Having something to say and saying it in public, on a regular basis, can contribute strongly to brand building for CFOs. Unfortunately, not enough CFOs do this.

    The good news is – if you are a CFO and you not only have a good LinkedIn profile, but are actively contibuting your opinion on the web, you will be more visible on the web. And because many of your peers are too afraid to put their opinions out there, you have the opportunity now to shine and stand out from the crowd.

    Samuel Dergel
    Senior Partner and Practice Leader, CFO Search
    Web: http://www.cfo2grow.com
    Blog: cfo2grow.blogspot.com
    Twitter: @cfo2grow, @cfo2dergel

  2. Yes, yes, yes, and yes, Samuel! As always, thanks for reading and for posting your thoughts. It’s refreshing to hear what I evangelize come from another trusted source.

    I was having a conversation with a finance recruiter last week and we talked about while CFOs may be the last bastion of invisible people (https://www.cfo-coach.com/2010/10/the-last-bastion-of-invisible-people.html), the wave is beginning to crest as more finance execs recognize the importance of being visible.


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