The Longest Yard Made Easy

Secrets to help managers penetrate the CEO's inner circle.
Lisa YoonAugust 27, 2002

Sometimes, the last stretch before reaching the top is the hardest to complete. Witness the top performing finance VP that is cast in a number-crunching supporting role, without access to the chief executive’s inner circle. Or the accounting wizard that is cubby-holed into being a back office technician.

Moving up and on to the radar screen of the CEO takes more than functional expertise, according to inner-circle denizen Booz Allen Chairman & CEO Ralph Shrader. In a July 24, keynote address at the National Contracts Management Association World Congress in Long Beach, Calif., Shrader imparted advice on how senior staff professionals, like VPs and directors of contracts, finance, marketing, human resources, and law, can leap that last hurdle in a little more than a single bound.

He focuses on “Five Keys to Earning a Place in the Inner Circle:”

  • Be the best: technical excellence in your function is essential.
  • Keep your ego in check: be a team player and remember that everyone deserves respect.
  • See beyond: think strategically, see connections, envision outcomes, and find creative solutions.
  • Don’t be a yes-person: Give your boss honest, well-researched advice.
  • Do the right thing: Integrity is paramount.

Shrader emphasized the critical role of senior managers in an organization. “Yes, rainmakers will probably always take home the fattest paychecks … and be [the] stars,” he said. “But senior staff professionals often have the most impact and influence and the best potential for long, successful careers. You are the architects of your corporate culture, values, policies, and practices.”

CFOs on the Move

Tienes Correo. Executives at America Online Latin America Inc. said on Monday that CFO Javier Aguirre is leaving the Internet giant to work for Venezuela’s Cisneros Group, a major shareholder in AOL-LA. Aguirre will be replaced by Osvaldo Banos, most recently president and chief executive of Pepsi bottler Buenos Aires Embotelladora SA … Berry Sethi was named financial chief of network-infrastructure consulting firm Predictive Systems. Was previously acting CFO … Cable Design Technologies CFO Ken Hale is retiring at year end to pursue his long-time dream of sailing around the world … Hale has been with CDT for 15 years …