What is a CFO?

This was a recent question on a Proformative discussion board. Maybe the question – and the answers – actually raise a more important question.

What do you do?

What do you do?

When someone asks you “what do you do,” how do you respond? If it is with something akin to “I’m a CFO,” maybe you want to read some of the answers and begin reconsidering your response. Apparently, not many outside the finance arena even know what that acronym means.

Interesting that some of the folks choose to call themselves “accountants” rather than CFOs … so “outsiders” would have a better understanding of what they do.  Yawn. Sigh.

I’d like to suggest that “what” you do is not nearly as interesting to folks (and interviewers) as “how you impact.” And if what you do isn’t interesting or not understood, whoever you’re talking to will have moved on (in their heads) to …

— what they are going to say next,

— what is still on their “to do” list,

— where they are going after this event, or even,

— who they want to talk to as soon as they can dump you.

The next time you’re asked what you do, respond in a way that is intriguing and begs a follow-up question. And make sure your answer honors your brand!

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