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It has been said that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Never has there been a more opportune time for CFOs to have an impact, with CEOs increasingly looking to them to help shape business direction and strategy. Once considered a numbers-only role, the CFO is now balancing traditional responsibilities with growing demand for data-driven analysis and insights that support growth and strategy.

Driving this change is an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing business environment, where most industries are being disrupted by new technologies and business models impacting how business is done and how customers are served. Also shaping the landscape are globalization, an intense regulatory environment, and the rise of fast-growing emerging markets, creating greater complexity for the CFO as well as a new set of business priorities.

“It used to be that the CFO function was a very technical function and separate than the rest of the enterprise,” says Strebulaev. “CFOs were either accountants or grew up through the finance office and there really wasn’t a need to have strategic or business vision. This worked well for a long time, but has now disintegrated in the current business environment. CFOs need to be able to understand business strategy and have the skills to communicate it with other people.”