The past two years have seen finance leaders navigate historically low interest rates, rising inflation, supply chain disruptions exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as skill gaps and talent shortages. This challenging backdrop has placed greater demand on CFOs and pushed their leadership skills to the limit.
“It’s been a key time for leaders,” says John Park, CFO at McDonald’s UK & Ireland. “It hasn’t just been about making difficult decisions, but it’s also been about supporting and engaging team members and stakeholders during a highly volatile and unpredictable period.”
Great leadership must have conscious decision-making at its heart and maintaining your principles and purpose during this time has been paramount, he adds.
“You can’t plan for every eventuality, as the pandemic has shown us, but learning the skills to help you steer a route alongside your team is invaluable.”
Investing in a new generation of leaders
The ICAEW Financial Talent Executive Network (F-TEN) is a global leadership programme that offers a unique opportunity for aspiring and new CFOs to develop and enhance their leadership skills to prepare them for becoming a modern-day leader.
“Leadership is hard work, and it requires dedication, preparation and commitment; the F-TEN programme has played an important part in my leadership journey,” says Park.
“I have no doubt that the programme helped me to not only progress to CFO but also to be the best CFO I can.”
F-TEN runs over six-month’s and focuses on developing value-added skills crucial for securing a board-level role. Through practical simulation workshops, it prepares participants for navigating some of the challenges they’ll face.
“The programme helped confirm that there is no magic formula for being an outstanding finance leader, while at the same time shining a spotlight on some areas of focus and providing a structure by which to approach challenges.”
Park’s positive experience has led to him sponsoring two of his team members to participate in the programme and support them on their own leadership journeys.
“The programme is really important and, in my own experience, extremely valuable in helping with the step-up to Executive Level. It’s specifically designed to help those assuming new responsibilities or those that are preparing for the next step in their careers.”
Investing in the new generation is a great way to demonstrate employee value especially in an age where the fight for talent is “fierce as ever at the moment”, adds Park.
Participants have the chance to share challenges with peers who can offer insightful viewpoints and different perspectives in a supportive and confidential environment.
“Without doubt, the highlight for me was the peer-learning groups that provide an opportunity to learn from others, while appreciating that we all face very similar challenges and moments of uncertainty throughout our careers” says Park.
“Understanding how someone else might approach an issue is a fantastic way to challenge your own perceptions and forces you to become a more dynamic thinker.
“The fact that the F-TEN programme includes peer group sessions is a great way to help hone this skill, which is key for any leader, and one that has certainly helped me in my career.”
Exposure to the C-Suite
Throughout the programme, participants will have the opportunity to learn from current CFOs, CEOs, and COOs as they share their experiences and how they overcame challenges that participants will inevitably face in their own careers.
Also, participants will be mentored by experienced board-level leaders from large listed or private companies which they are able to choose themselves, with the support of the programme manager.
“Exposure to others in the industry and learning from them is vital,” highlights Park.
“Mentorship is a great form of support when applying the learning from the programme to real life. All leaders need time and space to think carefully about what will help their business to be successful both today and, in the future. A mentor who provides one-to-one guidance, and someone you can speak with independently to help you clarify your thinking and work through any issues you might be having, is time well spent.,” says Park.
“An investment in a high-quality development programme like F-TEN demonstrates to the individual the value the organisation places on them, while at the same time helping them to grow into a rounded leader capable of contributing holistically to the success of the business – it’s an absolute win-win,” he adds.
The ICAEW’s next F-TEN programme commences in April.
To find out more about the F-TEN programme and register for the 2022 course, click here.