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I'm 10 years post-MBA and employed (thank goodness) as a VP Finance. But I feel stalled. Am I making good progress? What are my next steps?

I'm 10 years post-MBA and employed (thank goodness) as a VP Finance. But I feel stalled. Am I making good progress? What are my next steps? I feel like I'm behind some of my classmates who are already CXXs or have started companies. Am I falling behind? How should I assess myself and determine next steps?

Answers

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP of Finance & Operations
Company: RBA Consulting
(VP of Finance & Operations, RBA Consulting) |

There are four decisions that will help set the path for your longer term goal.

1) Continue in Finance or move into Operations

2) Type of Company (start-up/early stage, established or high-growth). Under Resources, please see "Start-up: Evaluating Different Companies Fit for You" - this document will help walk you through finding a good fit.

3) Industry and type of ownership (public, private, family, etc.)

4) Title, Compensation objectives

Each of these has pros/cons for level of influence on business direction, work/life balance, cultural fit, personal business objectives, geographic location, time commitment to reach objective, etc.

Once you define these four areas, you will narrow down the field of companies to begin targeting and learning about (though it may be your current firm).

My only advice is try to seek as close to what you enjoy, as its more likely to give you a higher chance of long-term success. This is not to say you may have to take on some duties, etc. for a short-term to get there.

To use an illustration, assume the goal is a CFO for a $1 billion publicly traded medical device firm.

Define the requirements of what a CEO/Board would seek for the person in that role, then do an inventory of your own skills. Under Resources, please see "Comparison of CFO and Controller Role" to use as a starting point.

Use people who sit in the role you want today, to help assess what is needed to get the role. This has been where I've gotten some of the best advice and insight as to whether I really wanted to the role.

If you don't have a particular skill, can you get it in your current role and company? If not, where would need to go to fill in the missing pieces.

You will not likely fill in everything, but reach a point where people will have a level of confidence in hiring you. That's where meeting with people who hold the role today can give some great insight.

For myself, I wanted to work in the start-up world, but had only large firm experience. To get there, I took some project work with small firms, equity only gigs, etc. - my goal was to build up enough experience that an investor would have comfort in me being a member of the management team.

Hope this helps,

Mark

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