CFO Talk: The CEO/CFO Relationship with Tom Burke

CFO Talk: The CEO/CFO Relationship with Tom Burke

Tom Burke, a serial CEO in the pharmaceutical space, shares his experience with senior financial leaders and how their role and their relationship with the CEO has changed during his career.

Speaking from experience, here is one of Tom’s messages to CFOs,

“I have been in companies where the CFO is referred to as the brakes, the brakes on the organization. I don’t think that’s in their best interest, number one, and two, that’s not really their
role. Their role is to determine how best to work in a given situation.

So, as the CEO’s partner, it’s important the CFO inform the CEO and leadership group about potential challenges. But I think it’s much more important the CFO is consider how ways we can make it work.”

Learn more from Tom on how CFOs can create value by partnering with their CEOs in this CFO Talk: The CEO/CFO Relationship.

Enjoy, Learn. Engage. Grow.

Key points from Tom’s interview - Jump to the time stamp to learn the full context.

The Importance of CFOs in Mergers and Acquisitions: “In order for an acquisition to really happen efficiently, the CFO has to be a big part of it.”— Tom Burke 3:38

The Importance of a True Partnership with the CFO: “What I’m looking for is a true partner thinking alongside of me. A colleague I’m able to bounce ideas off of, that is able to think in a forward manner… the relationship has to be a very close, that doesn’t necessarily mean friendly, but a very close relationship… they view themselves as a true partner… not a subordinate — Tom Burke 8:13

Authentic Discussion in Leadership Teams: “Within the leadership team, if you can’t have authentic discussions around business issues, strategy, whatever it might be. If everyone can’t or isn’t willing to lay their cards out on the table regarding their concerns or issues… That’s just not going to work.” — Tom Burke 12:42

The Importance of Forward Thinking in a CFO: “A CFO that is ahead of me on some points, ahead of me, thinking about things that I haven’t thought about, bringing those thoughts forward or identifying issues or opportunities that I haven’t considered or the rest of the leadership team hasn’t considered. That’s what I am looking for in a CFO.”— Tom Burke 14:04

The Role of the Board in Addressing Issues: “The board’s domain is strategy and the future. And if it doesn’t fit into either of those buckets and it’s really a management issue… It should not be brought to the board.”— Tom Burke 16:08

Effective Communication with the Board: “What you need to bring forward is 1 or 2 things that are really critical. The kind of topics to make this thing work one way or the other.”— Tom Burke 17:27

Leadership and Regrets: “I asked a mentor of mine ‘What’s your biggest regret you’ve ever had as a manager or as a chief executive?’ His response was not what I expected. His response was, ‘I didn’t let people go earlier.”— Tom Burke 22:13

The Importance of Making Difficult Changes: “You reach a point where you say, Okay, this simply isn’t going to work. And to take that action and make that change, as difficult as it might be, is important.”— Tom Burke 23:08

The Importance of Identifying Needs in an Organization: “As a leader, you can lose respect if you don’t take that action and take it more quickly because chances are others are picking up the slack. You’re going to lose some respect from them about your leadership ability and your ability to identify needs in the organization.”— Tom Burke 23:50

The Importance of People in Business: “At the end of the day, a business is really about people. You’re not going to get there without the right people.”— Tom Burke 28:17

Listen on

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