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Promotion Question

Currently I am a Controller at a smaller company. I came to the company with bigger company experience and have been here only 1.5 years. I have been taking on more tasks that are beyond the Controller scope such as being on the senior leadership team, helping with company strategy, HR oversight, forecasting, etc. All in all, the president feels confident that I am adding value beyond the Controller role and warrants promotion to a VP/CFO title. The problem is that there are concerns over the promotion, from a title perspective, due to the perception of some of the VPs and directors that help drive overall company performance and have been with the company many years. He wants to promote me from Controller to another title, instead of VP/CFO, due to the timing of the company's maturity stage. Is there another title that fits? Corporate Controller? Corporate Finance Director? Or anything that would show a step up from Controller in lieu of VP/CFO?


Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Here is what I would do........

1. Tell the CEO that you will KEEP the Controller title and add all the responsibilities of a CFO (in your current job description and title).

2. Tell the CEO that in return, you would like to have ALL the benefits and perks of a CFO title to include, a SALARY RAISE and other benefits.

In short, give you everything else short of the title. It is just a title (for now), the more important thing is that the duties and responsibilities are added in your job description...thus, resume.

Let me put it in perspective...I have been Employee #___ or Adviser/Asst. to the CEO doing CFO work. What matters is what you can accomplish and how you are helping the company...that will eventually show up in your resume or how others in your circle see you.

Having said all these, I understand that we may NOT be in the same stage of our professional life.....but...I think you will be better served if the accomplishments in your resume (or how people see you) overshadows your title to the point that it will not even matter.

Deanna Miller
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Professional Plumbing Group
(Chief Financial Officer, Professional Plumbing Group) |

I recommend asking the president what is driving the decision to change your title.

You mentioned the maturity stage of the business. Is he looking to bring on investors or refinance the business? Then he is looking for you to have a title that will give a measure of "confidence" that someone is in charge of the financial ship. In that case, you want to look at what similar stage companies call their senior financial person when going to the market place for financing/investors. If that title is CFO, you have a reason to give the internal people who might be offended - the title is driven by that external need.

Is his intention more internally focused - to distinguish your role from the historic Controller function to the management team while not offending the legacy players? In that case, Director of Finance is a logical internal title.

Tyler Hansen
Title: Director of Finance
Company: TurboAppeal, Inc
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, TurboAppeal, Inc) |

Director of Finance is a common position title for someone who handles a broad range of accounting/finance responsibilities in a smaller company. Often a Director of Finance is the ranking accounting/finance person in a startup, if "CFO" is deemed to not be an appropriate title based on organizational structure, employee experience, etc.

Don Wademan
Title: CFO
Company: Garner Industries
(CFO, Garner Industries) |

I would suggest approaching this with an eye to the long term. Map out with your President the progression path he/she sees for your position and what distinguishing attributes are on each step. If the two of you are clear on that progression and the attributes at each step it will make it easier for both of you to recognize when you have accomplished what it takes for each step.
I would suggest the progression go Controller --> Director of Finance --> Treasurer --> CFO if you are looking for a continual step up with commensurate increases in responsibility along with earned pay/benefits increases at each step.
Good luck.

Jim Schwartz
Title: Corporate financial advisor
Company: Wabash Financial Strategies
(Corporate financial advisor, Wabash Financial Strategies) |

My understanding of your initial statement is that your prospective peers, from a title standpoint, object to you joining their ranks. Their arguments probably focus on your lack of longevity with the company, perhaps your age, not having paid "dues" to the same extent they have, and the conceit that your contributions are less valuable than theirs. Absent some performance issue on your part, all of this should be just irrelevant noise.

While the president may agree that you are performing at a level above the typical controller role, it doesn't appear that s/he is able or willing to stand up effectively to the objectors. Whether the objectors are vocal or are engaging in a whisper campaign, they don't have a vote. The president, however, may choose to avoid confronting or challenging this group (or is it really just one vocal dissenter??) in the belief that this can help avoid management headaches. For these reasons, the political environment in the company sounds less than ideal. However, maybe the president simply needs your help to sell the benefits of this move. That's a conversation you need to have. It's difficult to overcome objections if you're not sure what they are or how matters reached the present stage.

Consider: Would this issue have surfaced if you had been hired originally as a CFO with many or most of the responsibilities you have now? It seems unlikely. Why is this concern arising now?

As to your question about titles, my experience is that they carry far too much weight. Their principal value is how they are perceived by others, internally and externally. If you're wise, your resume may list titles but will highlight real differentiators: achievements and problem solving successes, not lists of responsibilities.

In addition to the useful suggestions from others, think about creating your own title. Choose something outside the existing title structure. Instead of just Director of Finance, why not put "Senior" or "Managing" in front of it?


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