Maybe We Need a CFO for President

It’s taken me awhile to get around to completing this post. First, I had to cool down. Second, I was traveling. And third, I was finalizing my webcast for the virtual career fair next week.

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Now, I’m ready to get this blog finalized and posted … and yet, reading the headline still makes my blood boil. Here it is …

Siemens lays off 15,000—this is what happens when you put a CFO in charge”

Seriously? You put a CFO in charge and he “just” lays off people? What about the back story?

– Who led the series of missteps that led to this moment?
– Who derailed profitability at Siemens, necessitating a massive layoff?
– Does the CFO/CEO answer to the public, the media, or the investors?


– If the former CEO and sitting leadership team couldn’t / weren’t / didn’t produce positive impacts, how does making tough decisions somehow become the new guy’s fault?

And how does this admission later in the article jive with such a misleading and disparaging headline?

Siemens’ shares have outperformed the German market since Kaeser was promoted from CFO.”

Executive Search Consultant Samuel Dergel had this to say in a recent Linkedin group discussion …

Rollerbrushing CFOs as the bad guy is popular (among those that are not CFOs). Cutting lots of jobs is never a good thing. But closing a company down where everyone loses their job is worse. Decisions have to be made, and arm chair quarterbacking is very easy to do. CFOs who have lived through the tough decisions understand this very well. I don’t know enough about the Siemens situation to comment properly. The writer was not fair to CFOs, and not fair to the people that rely on CFOs. The demonizing of CFOs needs to stop.”

Can a company cost-slash its way to profitability? Not as a sole strategy, but we certainly know we can’t spend our way there, either. Nor can the status quo continue thinking it will yield different results.

If it takes a CFO to make the tough decisions that are necessary to get a corporate giant back on track – before it completely crashes and burns – maybe we need to stop electing lawyers to public office and begin electing CFOs.

In fact, maybe a Chief Financial Officer is just the type of cost-cutting problem-solver we need in the Oval Office, too.

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2 thoughts on “Maybe We Need a CFO for President”

  1. A CFO is a strategic partner in the companies management, providing a range of skills and deliverables far outstripping the “Accountant’s” role.

    They are the sales channel champion, the marketing booster, the ethical sounding board, the strategist among a few of the roles. And when a CFO becomes the CEO, they know all to well the effects of massive layoffs have not only on the bottom line today, but tomorrow and next week.

    Everyone has their favorite “how many X does it take to Y?” joke. So how many employees do you lay off before you have effectively killed your company? (and why did it come to that)?


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