Outlook for the CXO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Experience Officer

Customer experienceThe executive who oversees an organization’s customer experience may have one of many titles – Chief Client (or Customer) Officer, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience, Customer Experience Manager, Chief Marketing Officer, and more whimsical titles, such as Director of First Impressions, Creator of Opportunities, Chief Amazement Officer, and Happiness Advocate. This article refers to Chief Experience Officer, the common acronym for which is CXO. The role seems especially prevalent in the healthcare industry, in which it deals with the patient experience.

A Chief Experience Officer ensures a consistent and seamless end-to-end customer experience. The CXO identifies discrepancies between customer expectations and the actual experience, striving to eliminate those discrepancies.

A research study from the Experience Innovation Network, a part of Vocera, revealed that CXOs prioritize …

  • Experience improvement
  • Experience strategy
  • Compliments and complaints
  • Experience analysis
  • Friends, family, and VIPs
  • Quality/performance improvement

Perhaps surprisingly, many CXOs also scrutinize and cultivate the internal customer – the employee – based on the concept of what executive Frédéric Durand calls the “reciprocal relationship between the employee journey and the experience delivered to the customer.” Engaged employees are seen as key to providing optimal customer experiences.

Key Competencies for the CXO Role

The CXO is charged with delivering exceptional experiences that generate positive emotions and convenience for the customer.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Obsessive customer-centrism and knowledge aimed at boosting customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.
  • Collaboration skills cultivated within a relationship-based culture.
  • Openness to customer feedback.
  • Customer advocacy.
  • The will to promote customer-centric culture internally.
  • Measurement and analytics skills for the components and outcomes of customer experience.
  • Creativity to introduce experience-improvement initiatives.
  • Strategy, leadership, and governance skills.

Level-Up Tips

A significant component of the CXO’s role is transformation to an experience-based customer-centric culture that goes well beyond customer service. Showing that you understand the need for this transformation and can successfully lead change will go a long way toward boosting your CXO journey.

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CXO role, expand their horizons in an existing CXO role, or even rise beyond the CXO role:

  • Know that the deliverable should be more than just good customer service. In “The Roles of the Chief Experience Officer” in the American Management Association’s journal, AMA Quarterly, Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore note that experiences must be memorable. “CXOs must work to turn mundane interactions into engaging encounters so that customers cannot help but remember them—and tell others about the experiences they had,” the authors assert.
  • Deliver personalized customer experience. Pine and Gilmore suggest that “if you do not reach inside of people and engage their hearts and/or minds, then you have not offered a distinctive experience.”
  • Be an astute listener. Julie Larson, who left Microsoft in 2018 after a quarter of a century to become CXO at Qualtrics, has spent her career listening to customers. “The job,” Larson says, “starts with listening deeply to customers, employees, product users and the market’s response to the brand. All good leaders listen in their functional areas — some facing internally and some facing externally to stakeholders like Wall Street analysts. But in the C-suite, the role of the CXO is to listen to a variety of stakeholders, articulate their insights, and drive change at the highest level by asking the simple question: ‘What are we going to do about what we’ve heard?’”
  • Understand the five roles CXOs need to succeed: These roles, developed by Pine and Gilmore, include Catalyst, Designer, Orchestrator, Champion, and Guide. The Catalyst sparks energy, excitement, and action company-wide. The Designer forms the raw material of company capabilities into experience offerings. The Orchestrator aligns operational elements into a holistic theme that delights customers. The Champion advocates for the needs, wants, and desires of customers and ensures the company’s offerings create value on behalf of each customer. The Guide drives the organization’s transformation into a premier customer-experience organization.

CXO Trends to Watch

  • Robotic process automation opens up more time for the human touch. As Blake Morgan notes in Forbes, “when machines control the mundane tasks, humans have more time to dedicate to the uniquely human tasks, like strategy, creativity, innovation, problem solving, connecting with customers and developing a strong customer experience.”
  • The customer-experience role transcends the CXO: During a visit to Amazon, Morgan noticed “the entire company has a customer-experience mindset.” At customer-centric companies, all employees are tapped into how their work impacts customers. They are also empowered to help resolve customer issues.
  • Voice of the Customer takes center stage: “Voice of the Customer (VoC),” defined as your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services, focuses on customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement. Writing in CSM: The Magazine for Customer Service Managers & Professionals, Stuart Dorman reveals that organizations are “leveraging their Voice of the Customer data to actually shape customer journeys and design experiences rather than just react to issues as they surface.”
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Outlook for the CInO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Innovation Officer

InnovationChief Innovation Officer (the most common acronym is CInO) is one of the newer C-suite roles, and one that often overlaps with other executive roles. Innovation has often been the purview of the Chief Information Officer, but has evolved in many cases to a distinct role. In a nutshell, CInOs envision and communicate the future of their organizations.

To explain the role’s emergence, experts point to globalization and an information explosion that leads to endless consumer choices and a brutally competitive landscape. “To ensure they stay ahead of the game, businesses must be constantly innovating,” notes Ben Rossi in Information Age. Rossi characterizes the CInO role as “an executive who links the traditional CEO, CFO, and CIO roles.” Author Jag Randhawa also cites “a growing interest in innovation in the service industries, as well as in public welfare entities, including government and non-profit organizations.” Many organizations identify innovation as one of their top priorities.

A 2017 study in the journal Health Management, Policy & Innovation of innovation leaders in large healthcare-systems provides an overview of the role. Of the 40 largest systems in the study, 32 had a senior innovation leader. The study reported that the structure and function of the chief innovation officer role is diverse across systems, with 52 percent reporting a strategic focus, 24 percent operational, and 24 percent financial. The researchers identified four approaches to managing innovation:

  • an “internal consulting group” that educated, advised, and partnered around continuous process improvement (36 percent);
  • an incubator that worked to grow and scale projects (28 percent);
  • a group that imported and scaled established technology (12 percent);
  • a venture fund that invested externally and sometimes internally (24 percent).

The median budget under the control of the chief innovation officer was $3.5 million.

Key Competencies for the CInO Role

The CInO must be not only the visionary of the organization, but also a highly credible executive who attains buy-in for innovation. “A successful Chief Innovation Officer is a master of influence,” observes Bill Poston in his The Chief Innovation Officer blog. The role requires subject-matter expertise in the organization itself, technology, finance, business, operations, strategy, law, and internal and external politics, as well as the ability to communicate persuasively.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Ability to support best practices throughout business units toward breakthrough product and service initiatives that improve and deliver business results.
  • Astutueness to protect promising projects, oversee seed funding, and invest in initiatives and assets that aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
  • Collaborative skills to foster idea-generation and execution among workforce.
  • Competence in measuring and analyzing innovation results.
  • Commitment to customers.
  • Creativity and flexibility.
  • Change-leadership skills.
  • Not risk averse
  • Analytical skills to interpret trends and identify disruptive threats and opportunities.
  • Commitment to cultivating innovation talent, developing innovation roles and career paths, and encouraging a culture that embraces innovation.

Level-Up Tips

As Rossi asserts, it’s quite possible the CInO role can lead right to top: “In the future, the new crop of CInOs are most likely to be the CEOs in waiting, able to apply their multiple skills and broad knowledge to business situations that arise. This is especially true for non-Tech companies.”

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CInO role, expand their horizons in an existing CInO role, or even rise beyond the CInO role:

  • To become a successful CInO, combine branding, innovation, leadership, management, persistence, and strategy. That’s the advice of Ade McCormack, who suggests in his blog a step-by-step process in which the executive aligns innovation with user expectations, identifies innovative staff, cultivates a culture of innovation, rewards staff for innovative activity, builds the brand by promoting innovative successes, strategizes attaining the most important performance indicators, and repeats the process over and over.
  • Start a grassroots innovation revolution in your organization. So advises Randhawa, who suggests creating within your current role “a bottom-up innovation program in which participants share ideas to improve existing products and services.” Randhawa asserts that having a program like this on your resume can open up the path to becoming a CInO.
  • Build your skills. Many CInOs hold MBA degrees. While little evidence exists that a certification in innovation management will boost your career, you could gain skills and knowledge through pursuing the Certified Management of Innovation–Chief Innovation Officer designation offered by the International Association of Innovation Professionals (https://www.iaoip.org/page/Certification).
  • Have the right mindset. In a Forbes article describing what makes a CInO successful, Mike Maddock describes several innovation mindsets, noting that only two of them –the Maverick and the Orchestrator – lead to success. Mavericks, he says, are aggressively committed to the future and tend to make people uncomfortable to the point that the organization breaks new ground. The Orchestrator prepares and empowers the team for an innovative future.
  • Ensure your role is set up for success. The Health Management, Policy & Innovation study mentioned earlier identified three key parameters of innovation theory that can set up the CInO role for success:
    • separation of the innovation unit into an entity that exists outside of the ongoing organization
    • direct-line communication with the CEO and the board of directors
    • adequate resources.

CInO Trends to Watch

  • Bottom-up idea management grows in importance. Companies increasingly realize that since employees work most closely with customers, they are a prime source for innovation.
  • Creativity takes center stage: Creativity has always been critical to innovation, but today is becoming recognized as a vital business skill. Some experts suggest integrating creative tasks for CInOs and other innovators to enhance this attribute.
  • The concept of “innovation communities” catches fire: These communities can be internal, external or mixed and can include such diverse entities as “former interns, service providers and suppliers, customers and experts for future technologies and digitization,” according to Innolytics. These communities bring together creative and motivated minds with various perspectives to generate myriad ideas and engage in co-creation.
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2019 Outlook for the CSO/CISO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief (Information) Security Officer

CISOLike most C-Suite functions, the CSO role is evolving, having first appeared as the position overseeing security within the information-technology function. CSO is used interchangeably with Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), although writer Josh Fruhlinger asserts that “the CISO title is becoming more prevalent for leaders with an exclusive information-security focus.” A few CSOs also oversee employee and facility physical security, though a more typical title for such a role is Vice President or Director of Corporate Security.

CSOs/CISOs emerge from a variety of backgrounds, including government, the corporate world, and startups. Diverse educational backgrounds also are common in the field; however, experts have suggested that increasingly, organizations will require master’s degrees in cybersecurity for CSOs/CISOs. This is a growth position given the constant threat of cyberattacks.

Writing for Forbes, Ted Schlein summarizes the role: “The CSO must be technically adept, with an intuitive understanding of a company’s systems, how hackers might penetrate them, and how to defend against attacks. And because no company, no matter how invested it is in cybersecurity, is fully immune from cyber threats, the CSO must also understand how to detect, contain, and remediate the attacks that do occur.”

Key Competencies for the 2019 CSO Role

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Collaborative skills and the ability to build consensus among stakeholders.
  • Technical aptitude with intuitive understanding of a wide range of relevant systems, as well as techniques hackers might use to infiltrate them and ways to defend against attacks.
  • Extensive ability to plan, design, develop, test, implement, and oversee IT security systems, including security-monitoring and detection tools, and be able to identify, contain, and recover from cyberattacks.
  • Strong leadership, negotiation, and persuasive ability.
  • Technical curiosity and willingness to learn from mistakes.

Level-Up Tips

CSOs/CISOs typically offer about 7-8 years of experience in information security, strong leadership skills, the ability to communicate to a non-technical staff, and at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. They can enhance their marketability with an advanced degree specializing in information security or information assurance. Look for academic programs offered by universities recognized by the National Security Agency. Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CSO/CISO role, expand their horizons in an existing CSO/CISO role, or even rise beyond the CSO/CISO role:

  • Build relationships and network. In an excellent article about succeeding as a CSO/CISO, Stefan Sulistyo suggests that these roles and departments are particularly helpful to form bonds with: IT manager/CIO; data protection; law department; corporate communications and PR office; customer service; internal audit; personnel management/human resources; facility management (or physical-safety department); and executive assistant. Fruhlinger observes it’s also worthwhile to cultivate contacts among industry vendors, the intelligence community, and academia.
  • Join a professional organization. Experts in the field suggest Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and International Security Management Association (ISMA) to provide further networking opportunities.
  • Earn a CISSP (Certification Information System Security Professional) certification or GIAC Information Security Professional certification through Global Information Assurance.
  • Demonstrate your alignment with the business and the organization’s goals. One way to understand that alignment is to identify a mentor who can guide the CSO/CISO in senior management’s expectations. Even better is if this mentor champions the CSO/CISO, asserts Lynn Mattice of risk-management consultancy firm Mattice and Associates and Jerry Brennan of security-executive search firm SMR Group.
  • Look to fill gaps. Since CSOs/CISOs come from a variety of backgrounds, leverage yours in an organization that especially needs it. Whether your background is as an engineer/architect, or manager of security professionals, or you offer a different set of qualifications, chances are you can find a niche as a CSO/CISO, especially because many organizations still don’t have CSOs/CISOs.

CSO/CISO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • The use of ransomware will decline but still be a problem. Organizations are now more alert than in the past to malicious apps intended to block access until the victim pays a ransom, and they have implemented security measures.
  • One ray of sunshine is the positive security environment created as businesses continue their significant migration of data to the cloud in 2019: In addition, cloud-delivered security solutions will be a priority for CSOs/CISOs.
  • Cybersecurity alone will not be enough to secure the most sensitive data or privacy. As Rina Shainski, co-founder and chairwoman of Duality Technologies, puts it: “Data must be protected and enforced by technology itself, not just by cyber or regulation. The very technology compromising our privacy must itself be leveraged to bring real privacy to this data-driven age.”
  • We can anticipate continued nation-state attacks on and surveillance of individuals: State-sponsored threats and high-level hackers continue to relentlessly troll access to the critical infrastructure of nations worldwide.
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2019 Outlook for the CIO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Information Officer

CIOIn the past, regard and expectations for CIOs have been a bit underwhelming, with some even joking that CIO stands for “Career Is Over.” Those expectations are changing, however. Strategic thinking – spotting new revenue opportunities and implementing operational innovations – now have become a far more valued weapon in the CIO’s arsenal than in the past. In fact, nearly two-thirds of CIOs say that creating new revenue-generating initiatives is among their job responsibilities, notes the 2019 State of the CIO report from CIO magazine. It’s all about harnessing technology to create business value.

As with virtually all C-suite roles, the customer has taken on increasing importance. To effectively generate revenue, CIOs must be more closely in touch with customer needs.

In an article about CIO 2019 trends, Naomi Eide writes, “unlike in years past, CIOs are making headway in the C-suite, influencing technology and business strategy as the importance of IT is understood. As technology’s role is increasing, the role of the CIO is maturing.” Eide cites a greater awareness of “technology’s ability to make business bottom-line goals possible.”

The CIO plots out better, faster routes to advancing the business by leveraging existing data and sourcing new information. The executive in this role envisions the digital enterprise’s future. The CIO also oversees security and resilience, leverages ecosystems, and designs the IT operating model.

The pressure is on for CIOs, however, because of what Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, describes as “the dramatic effect technology is having on key areas like personal health, insurance, and agriculture.” The rapidly changing nature of technology makes CIO the “toughest corporate job in America right now” in Hurd’s view.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CIO Role

As with all C-Suite roles, leadership, communication, and influencing skills are identified as indispensable to success. The 2019 State of the CIO report reveals that 78 percent of CIOs report that they are communicating with the Board of Directors more than ever before, up from 67 percent in 2018. And influence is cited by Natalie Whittlesey, CIO practice director at Harvey Nash UK, as “the key skill an IT leader will need to display.”

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the following competencies that you possess:

  • Fusing business and technology strategy: Strategic thinking, planning, and influencing business-growth objectives
  • Ability to accomplish business transformation through digital transformation. In the 2019 State of the CIO report, 88 percent of CIO respondents said they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives compared to their business counterparts.
  • Customer focus, understanding, and engagement
  • Storytelling; ability to make the complex simple
  • Innovation
  • Forward-thinking
  • Network, alliance, and relationship building
  • Interpersonal awareness
  • Developing others
  • Results focus
  • Software-development management
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Ability to drive agility
  • Business and financial acumen (Many CIOs today attain an MBA)

Level-Up Tips

Writing in Forbes, Peter High observes that “not long ago, it may have seemed absurd to think of the CIO as an important stop on the way to the top role in the company.” But High goes on to cite “a growing cadre of former CIOs who have been promoted or hired into positions that continue to take advantage of their technical acumen, but provide them with expanded purviews.” Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CIO role, expand their horizons in an existing CIO role, or even rise beyond the CIO role:

  • Become super-savvy in business. Those who’ve advanced beyond the CIO role tend to have an MBA or advanced degree in a business discipline and may have previously worked in other business disciplines, High reports, leading them to place business value above technology. Successful CIO aspirants to other roles also often have consulting backgrounds.
  • Network and build relationships. In a CIO report from EY, networking and building relationships topped the list of the list of things that CIOs should do to gain promotion.
  • Think of your role as part R&D on behalf of the company. This approach means listening to and understanding the customer and the customer’s needs. With the customer in mind, research is more focused on solutions than the technology itself.
  • Be aware of and build on what makes you marketable as a CEO. Although Blair Shiver notes in CIO magazine no “significant trend of CIOs transitioning into CEO roles,” she states that “it’s absolutely undeniable that the people- and process-management skills developed within an IT leadership position are vital for driving growth across entire organizations.” It’s easy to speculate that as CIOs continue to build their portfolios of business skills, they will be considered for CEO positions.

CIO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • Cybersecurity: CIOs will leverage new methods of risk mitigation. Those in the CIO role will be looking beyond traditional approaches to cybersecurity. In addition, 72 percent of respondents in CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2019 said they were spending more on cybersecurity in 2019.
  • Mastery of technologies at the forefront is required of CIOs: These include edge-to-cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), Hybrid and Multi-Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), as well as Blockchain.
  • Increasing pressure to create an innovation environment will challenge CIOs: Citing Natalie Whittlesey, Angelica Mari writes in Computer Weekly that CIOs need to show “evidence of bringing in innovation that’s had a direct impact on a business, evidence of handling a complex stakeholder base often spanning geographical boundaries and multiple brands, as well as being commercially minded – which increases ability to talk business to the board.”
  • Digital transformation is a top business priority: “Any way you look at it, the largest growth opportunities that most organizations can access now is to better seize the white space in … rapidly expanding digital markets,” writes Dion Hinchcliffe on ZDNet.
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WINNER: Toast of the Resume Industry Awards

Each year, CDI (Career Directors International) hosts the resume writing industry’s most prestigious Toast of the Resume Industry™ (TORI) resume writing competition; an international competition in which contestants submit their best work in a category.

It was an honor to be selected as 2nd place winner for Best Information Technology Resume. And I was equally elated to have been nominated for Best Accounting & Finance Resume.

According to CDI President, Laura DeCarlo, “The Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award winners represent the epitome of excellence for job seekers to stand out from the competition for the 60-80% of all jobs that are found through networking and the hidden job market. Job seekers at any level who want to know their resume is written with the marketing power and precision to help them come out on top for qualifying positions need look no further than a TORI winner.

These individuals are the best of the best in their overall strategy of visual formatting and design, personal marketing, understanding of employer/position requirements, and use of powerful language. In a world where visual presentation has become an art open to everyone with smart phone apps, to win a TORI is the ultimate stamp of approval a resume writer could attain.”

Winners are selected by a blind panel of global industry experts. Nominees are selected followed by first, second, and third place winners in each category.

I proudly represent the ‘best of the best’ in my industry and share the accolades with my esteemed colleagues.

2019 Outlook for the CMO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Marketing Officer

CMO“Growth” is the watchword for today’s CMOs. With some experts characterizing CMOs as “Chief Growth Officers,” the growth imperative is increasingly expected of this role. Jean-Baptiste Coumau, Tom French, and Laura LaBerge note in the Harvard Business Review that to get ahead of the competition, “CMOs must deliver above-market growth” by facilitating outstanding customer experience and organizational alignment.

Traditional aspects of the CMO role include brand management, marketing communications, sales management, market research, marketing training, product development, distribution channel management, pricing, customer service, strategic planning, and data analysis. In many cases, we can now add for the contemporary CMO customer experience, data strategy, change management across the business, information technology (with CMO and CIO often closely collaborating), marketing strategy, storytelling, and driving innovation. Today’s CMO can be seen as voicing the customer perspective to the rest of the C-Suite and the board.

Brand-building is still counted as a top priority for CMOs; this function is increasingly impacted by storytelling, emotion, and the customer experience.

Perhaps surprisingly, the CMO role is far from universal in corporations, and tenure of incumbents in the position tends to be shorter than for other C-Suite roles.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CMO Role

Here are the skills experts say are key to the evolving CMO role. In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to drive organizational alignment to deliver better customer experiences
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Evangelist for emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Cross-functional leadership
  • Ability to foster agility
  • Storytelling
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Innovation
  • Product understanding
  • Customer focus

Level-Up Tips

A few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CMO role, expand their horizons in an existing CMO role, or even rise beyond the CMO role:

  • Deploy full C-Suite strategic thinking. Matthew Lieberman refers to a “multihyphenate role” – CMO-CEO-CFO – to describe the kind of full-organization integration necessary to excel as a CMO.
  • Have a command of the best technology to yield the right data. Writing for Chief Marketer, Patty Odell suggests emphasizing the “four forces underlying consumer technology adoption — tools, coordination, conversation, and emotion” to refine the approach to engaging customers.
  • Get experience working on an integrated team. McKinsey found upon surveying 200+ CMOs and senior-marketing executives that marketers termed as “integrators” –those who have merged data and creativity – increase their revenues at twice the average rate of S&P 500 companies. The ability to build bridges across functions is a competitive advantage. “In the future,” writes blogger Martin Roll, “the CMO will emerge as the strategic connection between the corporate boardroom, the top management team, the CEO, and the customer.”
  • It’s OK to aspire to be CEO. While CMOs were once dismissed as CEO material since they were not directly accountable for profitability, the customer focus of this role has propelled it to CEO-worthy status. David Shrank of Deloitte Consulting notes that “the role of the CMO has changed dramatically in recent years, and this new breed of CMO is being shortlisted for the top spot … as the CMO continues to own the customer across all channels – as well as the data that drive the business – the CMO quickly becomes a logical person to own the company’s growth agenda in the CEO role.” In one study, more than half of surveyed executives said their CMO could eventually become CEO.

For inspiring stories of marketers’ varied career paths to CMO, see articles in MarketPro and Mashable.

CMO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • Mass Data Fragmentation is a challenge for marketers: CMOs must contend with unstructured data that is currently widely scattered, resulting in an incomplete picture. These leaders seek a more holistic data scenario.
  • Customer acquisition remains the No. 1 objective: The best CMOs are relentlessly dedicated to understanding the customer and push their organizations toward customer-centricity. The Three E’s – Empathy, Emotion, and Experience – will increasingly inform marketing to customers, as will personalization. Writing for Forbes, Jenny Rooney cites “near-obsessive focus on their customers … engaging with them in a fully omnichannel world and with a unique respect and allegiance.” Some experts suggest a CMO’s role should be Chief Experience Officer.
  • The Holy Grail for CMOs is to marry data with creativity: This “right-brain/left-brain challenge,” as Alan Schulman calls it in Adweek, is a unique CMO imperative within the C-Suite.
  • Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, will impact CMOs and help solve data problems: Increasing use of these technologies enables CMOs to extract optimal value and insights from their data.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion https://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


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2019 Outlook for the CFO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Finance Officer

CFO Chief Financial OfficerLargely driven by advances in technology, the CFO role has changed dramatically in recent years. Corporate portfolio management and capital allocation are among the areas in which CFOs are taking on greater roles. Communication skills have gained currency as CFOs are increasingly called upon to detail the long-term financial picture to the board of directors and shareholders in simple, clear terms. Effective communication with financial institutions also is critical.

Because business decision-making increasingly requires budgeting and forecasting data, future-oriented CFOs – aided by technology – have extended their reach into all corners of the organization. That means CFOs must excel at building relationships.

In a 2016 UK study by Ernst & Young, almost 70 percent of survey respondents reported they were spending more time providing analysis and insight to support senior leaders and decision makers than they were five years ago. The survey also revealed that CFOs seek an even greater role in formulating strategic and organizational decisions. “Over the last decade,” writes Ian Hong of KPMG, “the CFO’s role has shifted from number crunching to co-driver of corporate strategy focusing on long-term growth strategies.”

The role can be seen from a past, present, and future perspective. The controllership piece looks at historical financial information, while the treasury piece oversees the organization’s present financial condition, and the economic strategy and forecasting portion of the role, of course, deals with the future. In fact, the CFO can be seen as a futurist rather than a reporter, notes George Rotsch, a sales and marketing leader for Intellitec Solutions.

Joining the traditional core areas of the CFO role – financial reporting, audit and compliance, planning, treasury, and capital structure – are ­­­­­­­­­­ business strategies such as mergers and acquisition.

The changes are so profound that two major consulting firms have conducted studies on the role, each concluding the CFO role is actually four roles, and each identifying a different set of four roles:

Deloitte: Four faces of the CFO


McKinsey: Today’s CFO: Which profile best suits your company?


  • Catalyst: Motivating behaviors across the organization to achieve strategic and financial objectives.
  • Strategist: Partnering with CEO and deploying critical-thinking skills toward growing the organization profitably and meeting its goals.
  • Steward: Protecting and preserving the organization’s assets.
  • Operator: Balancing capabilities, talent, costs and service levels to fulfill the finance organization’s responsibilities.
Finance expert: Taking both leadership and ownership of the organization’s financial results.

Generalist: Engaging heavily in business operations and strategy and often contributing strong industry and competitive insights.

Performance leader: Leading transformation both within the finance function and throughout the organization.

Growth champion: Externally hired professional often seen in industries that plan to grow considerably.

Yet another four-role perspective, from the organization behind the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, emanates from the concept of “value.” CFOs, according to the organization, are Creators of Value, Enablers of Value (by supporting decision-making and performance), Preservers of Value (assets and liabilities management, risk management, internal controls), and Reporters of Value.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CFO Role

Here are the skills experts say are key to the evolving CFO role. In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Leveraging system capabilities
  • Performance acceleration
  • Project management
  • Problem solving
  • Business planning
  • Influencing
  • Leadership, especially of talented teams achieving exemplary financial performance
  • Risk intelligence: Understanding, management, communication, and mitigation of risk
  • Change management
  • Conflict management
  • Business-partnering skills
  • Stakeholder-management skills
  • Open and transparent communication skills, especially in difficult times
  • Critical thinking
  • Global vision and financial perspective
  • Strategic thinking and agility
  • Capital formation and structuring skills
  • Merger targeting, due diligence, and integration skills
  • Understanding of digital, smart technologies and sophisticated predictive data analytics
  • Creativity

Level-Up Tips

A few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CFO role or expand their horizons in an existing CFO role:

  • Leverage your background. Working at a Big Four accounting firm is no longer the primary route to CFO. If you are looking at transitioning into a CFO role, you’ll find certain types of background especially helpful. The McKinsey report notes that externally hired CFOs brought in as growth champions often come from the realms of investment banking, consulting, or private equity.
  • Absorb the big picture. Connect with operations and strategy teams throughout your career so you can grasp the organization from an operational perspective. Ask questions and attend meetings outside your area. You might even consider stepping up for special project beyond the scope of finance.
  • Build collaborative relationships. You will be better equipped to lead change if you have shored up relationships with operational colleagues.
  • Polish your communication skills. “The best finance leaders use the numbers to tell a clear and coherent story,” writes Tom Bogan in his Adaptive Insights blog.

CFO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • The role of finance continues to grow: With many organizations eliminating the COO role, CFOs are increasingly called upon to ply their strategic and operational skills, especially in the areas of risk management and technology.
  • Technology makes finance smarter and faster: Finance professionals are at the forefront in the adoption of new analytics tools and techniques and are increasingly integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Companies face new risks and challenges: Amid demands for greater transparency and better stewardship, organizations must also contend with social responsibility, the demand for privacy rights, as well as the need to protect data and confront data breaches.
  • Businesses are living in the age of uncertainty: The polarized political climate is just one impetus for change and challenge. Regulation, trade policy, and data protection also play a role.

[Source of trends: Microsoft Dynamics 365. (2018). 2019 Finance Trends Report. Retrieved from http://axdata.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2019-Finance-Trends-Report.pdf]


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion https://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


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Reinvention: Options for Reinvention (Part 2 of 2)

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on career reinvention for senior-level executives. Part 1 explores a dozen key activities for reinvention.

Reinvent yourself motivational phrase sign on old wood with blurred background

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, the desire for reinvention often springs from discontent, if not downright unhappiness. Senior-level executives who have lost the mojo of their careers may recognize the need for reinvention – but they are flummoxed as to what such a reinvention might look like. In this part of the series, we explore options.

Reinvention often focuses on career, but can be broader than that, such as a reinvention inspired by…

  • Your bucket list: Is there something you’ve always wanted to do and are determined to do before you leave this planet? Perhaps crossing that item off your bucket list will require you to reinvent yourself.
  • Something you always put off: Similar to a bucket-list item, your long-delayed ambition could finally come to fruition as part of your reinvention.
  • Something that interested you as a child: Our childhood ambitions can be intense and passion-producing. We may have abandoned them years ago for reasons that don’t exist today – parental pressure, discrimination, daunting entry requirements. Or we may have recognized back then a misalignment of skills that can be remediated today. It’s not too late to recapture that childhood dream.

When career is the main focus, reinvention can entail fairly simply work modifications, such as …

  • A new employer or role in the same arena in which you’ve already been working: A simple change of employers – or even roles within your current employer may accomplish your reinvention goals. An advantage here is mitigating some of the reinvention risk that is particularly acute for senior-level executives.
  • New employer in an arena or role that is new to you: Perhaps you’ve discovered your skills are easily transferable to a different industry and/or role. Or maybe you’d like to take your talents from the for-profit world and ply them at a non-profit, or in education or government.
  • New geographic location. A simple change of venue might not qualify as a reinvention, but if it accomplishes your reinvention goals, the label is unimportant.

As mentioned in Part 1, reinvention means scrutinizing your skills to identify the skills that motivate you, that you are good at, and you enjoy using skills. You also need to pinpoint your “burnout skills,” those you may still be good at but are tired of using and would rather not use anymore. Some experts have suggested creating a matrix that lays out

  • skills you are good at and enjoy using
  • skills you enjoy using but that need development
  • skills you are good at but no longer enjoy using
  • skills you don’t enjoy using and are not that good at anyway.

Part 1 also refers to mitigating risk by making temporary stabs at reinvention before making a permanent commitment. Some common options for reinvention can be attempted in small doses while you are employed in your current situation…

  • Entrepreneurship: One of the most popular forms of reinvention is starting your own business, but you can certainly do so while still employed. More and more workers these days, even at the senior-exec level, have “side hustles.”
  • Teaching: Teaching evening, weekend, or online classes enables you to use a new skillset and test out your interest in educating others – while you continue to hold your job.
  • Consulting: This form of entrepreneurship is a natural for executives; ideally you would offer consulting that does not compete with what your employer offers.
  • Volunteering: You have endless opportunities to try different skillsets and discover new disciplines by serving as a volunteer while still working.

With the possible exception of volunteering, any of the above could become your ticket to leave your current job eventually, thus reinventing yourself.

One more significant option for exploring reinvention while avoiding risk is to propose to your employer that you take a paid sabbatical. Most universities and some employers offer paid sabbaticals; if yours doesn’t, it can’t hurt to propose one to your boss.

Once you have committed to reinvention, you’ll want to plan strategies to market your reinvented self. If you’re changing careers, you’ll want effective career-marketing materials, such as your resume, cover letter, and Linked-In profile, that position you for your reinvented career and help you mitigate possible age discrimination. A reputable career practitioner can help you with these materials.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion http://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


Reinvention: A Dozen Keys to Reinvention (Part 1 of 2)

This is Part 1 of a two-part series on career reinvention for senior-level executives. Part 2 explores various reinvention options.

If you’ve had a “Peggy Lee” moment as a senior executive, in which you asked yourself, “Is that all there is?” with regard to your life or career, you are far from alone. Though author and teacher Regena Thomashauer writes, “reinvention is always initiated by unhappiness,” this unhappiness is sometimes more like a low-level discontent, a feeling of wanting something more or different.

Reinvention may be sparked by changing priorities or a desire for something new. Sometimes it’s reactive – in response to losing a job, for example. Other times, it’s a proactive decision to make a radical change. Blogger John Mashini writes about a third kind of reinvention – one that springs from failure. This one is reflective reinvention, which Mashini says “occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue in that particular endeavor.”

Whichever type of reinvention is pursued, the stakes are higher for executives as they have more to lose in terms of reputation, income, and self-worth.

That’s why it’s helpful to consider some key actions if you feel like you might be ready to reinvent yourself:

Own your grief at ending a phase of your life. Acknowledge the feelings of loss that come from no longer enacting your career in a certain way for what may have been a very long time. Prepare yourself to let go of what no longer fits your goals.

Determine your reinvention purpose. What do you hope to accomplish by reinventing yourself? Clarify your goals.

Assess your skills and values. Immerse yourself in self-discovery. Now is the time to determine what truly motivates you, drives you, and keeps you engaged. What do you highly value in your work? What skills do you want to keep using, and which ones are you sick of using? Are new skills required for your reinvention goals? How will you acquire those skills? How can you re-package those skills for new opportunities?

Evaluate your risk tolerance. As mentioned, executives have a lot to lose if reinvention goes sour. How much are you willing to risk? Your degree of risk-averseness may temper your reinvention plans.

Engage in proactive learning. This time of uncertainty provides an opportunity for learning. If you are unsure which direction to take with your reinvention, additional learning can point you down the right path. And if you know exactly what your reinvention will look like, learning will help arm you with the skills and knowledge you need for the New You.

Enlist your support team: Don’t try to go it alone; gather a team to support your reinvention. That outside perspective can be critical to your efforts. Your team might include a career or transitions coach. Including one or more mentors also makes sense. Identify where you need extra support, for example, with gaining the skills needed for reinvention. Your greater network is also a vital asset in your reinvention. You may need to add a significant number of new contacts to your network if you are changing fields.

Define the new you. Having executed preliminary exploration, clearly articulate exactly what your reinvention looks like. Be able to tell people about it with pride and optimism.

Write your career story, culminating in your clear vision of reinvention. Reviewing the highlights of your career will show trends and patterns. Ideally, your story will show a natural progression to your reinvented self.

Break it down into smaller steps. Reaching the goals of your reinvention may be a huge and daunting undertaking, but you can keep from feeling overwhelmed if you break the process down into more manageable pieces.

Experiment. Your reinvention is not set in stone. You can try some temporary explorations if you’re not completely ready to commit to reinvention. If you have lingering concerns, you can experiment while still holding onto your former life. If you want to learn more about roles, companies, and industries that are different from what you’ve been involved with, consider informational interviews. While these are usually conducted by job-seekers closer to entry-level, there is no reason executives can’t partake. You might also consider a “side-hustle,” such as consulting while hanging onto to your current job/career. Volunteer work and teaching also give you an opportunity to stretch your muscles, deploy unfamiliar skills, and explore new arenas without giving up your livelihood. See more about these options in Part 2 of this series.

For accountability, communicate your goals. Tell as many people as you can how you’ve reinvented yourself. Doing so will reinforce and strengthen your commitment.

Say no to anything that does not serve your new purpose. Once your reinvention is under way, don’t get derailed by engaging in activities that don’t support your new life. Take on only the “mission-critical” tasks that support your reinvention.

Unquestionably, reinvention is especially challenging for senior-level executives. Remember that you have the advantage of having built both knowledge and networks over a long career and thus have copious resources to guide your reinvention.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion http://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


Five Things to Know about the Millennial Hiring Mindset

millenial businessmen having conversation inside the officeWith millennials predicted to comprise more than 35 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s inevitable to see members of this millennial generation in hiring-manager positions, recruiting and hiring senior-staff members who may be far older and more experienced than they are.

Understanding the way millennials think about work, jobs, and career is key to making the right impression in the interview, getting hired, and fitting in with a multi-generational workforce. Here are five general observations:

1. Leadership, teamwork, and communication are always in vogue. Millennial hiring managers seek these traits just as much as their counterparts in other generations. millennials are especially obsessed with collaboration, so stories that demonstrate your team-leader and team-player competencies will play well in interviews with them. As for communication, remember that millennials are visual learners who grew up consulting YouTube to learn how to do things. They are not big readers and have actually been conditioned to skip large blocks of text. That means they are unlikely to appreciate huge amounts of detail on your resume. And they might just resonate with a pitch deck about yourself that you bring to the interview.

2. Millennials respect experience, but as hiring managers, may not be willing to pay for it. Hiring managers in this generation recognize that experience is valuable, but they are more focused on the specific contribution you can make and how productive you are. They do not necessarily associate years of experience with a premium salary. It’s important to describe in the interview how you’ve contributed your productivity in similar situations, rather than emphasizing your vast experience. Show that what you bring to the company – not your years of experience – makes you worth your requested salary. It’s also important to show that a wealth of experience will not impede your ability to react quickly to changing dynamics. You want to show that you are not fixated on looking at new situations through old lenses.

3. If the watchword of real estate is location, location, location, the watchword for older executives under scrutiny by millennial hirers is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Demonstrate that you value diversity. Show you are not tech-averse but open to learning new technologies. Prepare for interviews with stories of responding effectively to the kind of rapid change millennials have experienced all their lives.

4. Millennials raise their eyebrows at careerists who’ve worked at one place for a long time. The good news is that job hopping is scarcely an issue for millennials who hire. Instead, the opposite is true; they look askance at those who seem to have stayed in one place too long. Their generation has tended to seek personal growth by moving from job to job. If you have been at your most recent job a long time, prepare an explanation about how you’ve grown in your work and have not stagnated. By the way, if the millennial interviewing you will be your supervisor, don’t count on him or her to stick around for a long time.

5. Millennials admire work-life balance. Stories of the long hours you’ve toiled and personal sacrifices you’ve made for your work are not likely to resonate with millennials, who tend to dedicate themselves to meaningful work, values, and balance between their professional and personal lives. In interviews, be sure to share the volunteer and community activities that make you a well-rounded contributor.

Final Thoughts
Being considered for a position by a hiring manager many years your junior can be intimidating. But once you understand the millennial hiring mindset, you can navigate interviews with these young hiring managers with ease.

If you need help with your interviewing skills, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule