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Pursue an MBA?

I'm looking for some career advice.  I'm currently a CPA with a CMA soon to come.  Worked in public accounting for 5 years and have been an assistant controller in a meduim sized family owned business for the past two.  I really enjoy the private side of accounting and my ultimate career goal is to be a CFO of a like sized business.  I'm wondering if it's worth pursuing my MBA.  I've read quite a bit that seems to suggest that an MBA is the way to go to set up for a CFO role, but is it worth it after a CPA and CMA have already been obtained?  Any advice would be of great help.



Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

What is your current degree in? I definitely see the benefit of having an MBA and being a CFO; I know it has helped me tremendously. However your CPA designation will help you out a lot as well. It will also depend on the employer's requirements and what they are looking for in a candidate. Would it be something you could ask your current employer about? If you were to share your aspirations of becoming a CFO someday they may appreciate the motivation and give you their thoughts on what would help move you in that direction.

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP Operations and Finance
Company: VP / CFO - Private Company
(VP Operations and Finance, VP / CFO - Private Company) |


Christine gives you a good start that I'd like to add onto.

While each company defines the CFO role based upon its needs and style, the primary role of a CFO is to provide financial counsel to the business and oversee compliance for accounting/controls. The financial counsel is marrying up both business knowledge (client need, competitor, operations, etc.), strategy and financial - then the ability to communicate in succinct terms that the business can immediately utilize.

An MBA can help round out your awareness of finance and business issues and the interaction with your fellow MBA students is really the hidden gems. The CPA and CMA are excellent technical bases to build on.

The real key to becoming a CFO is rounding out your business experience - the best place to start is your current business as people know you. This will take you from awareness to experience.

To that end, it takes a bit of internal networking with the business operators and moonlighting to take on tasks outside your normal role. I have known dozens of accounting team members who have done additional tasks just to learn the business - it has made them more effective in applying their finance knowledge within the business - so it's relevant to the end user.

Christine is right that if you share your desire to learn the business and move up - most people will support your goal and offer to help.

There is a comparison of CFO and Controller Roles in the Resources section - you will want to make sure you are able to check the box in both CFO and Controller related experience.

Hope this gives you some starting ideas.



Georg Fendt
Title: CFO
Company: TÜV SÜD Product Service
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, TÜV SÜD Product Service) |

As a CFO you would need strength in many "soft skills" on top of technical skills to be able to deal with business #complexity.

I suggest you look at CFO job descriptions and check which skills you still need to develop, and then look at the MBA program information to find if you will do it there.

The MBA degree is always an asset, however you need to be sure that the program you choose (if any) is the one that provides the knowledge you want/need.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

Keep in mind the focus of most MBA programs is managing from the top, which is why it is sought after for "C" level positions. CPA and CMA are very specific to accounting. A CFO is the head of all financial operations, not just accounting. Accounting is by far one of the most important, but it isn't the whole job. So a MBA would help to demonstrate more cross functional training and macro level business acumen.


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