CFO Snapshot: Accenture’s Pamela Craig

The Accenture finance chief shares some advice for aspiring CFOs.
Kate O'SullivanJuly 23, 2012

Name: Pamela Craig
Title: CFO
Company: Accenture

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring CFOs?
Be very curious about all that is happening in the global economy and your industry, all the way through to your organization, including the people in it. This helps build a mind set that the work you do is relevant and valued by the people you work with, as well as those who come in contact with your organization. Understand how the work you do every day translates into financial results for your company, as well as how it extends to shareholders, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.

There are some big things to never be afraid of doing: ask for help when you need it, pursue questions and present ideas with confidence, share your aspirations and accomplishments, set priorities but be flexible because your career path will not follow a set route, and, most of all, help create the environment so that your people can do all of these things, too.

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What do you like best about your role as CFO?
Believe it or not, it is about being really involved in the business through the people I interact with and learn from: our board, our investors, our clients, my leadership peers, and, of course, our finance leaders and people. I am particularly proud of our high-performing finance team around the world. We are very involved in the business; we are deep in finance, but we are operational and strategic as well. I’m also pleased to say that more than half of the 5,000 people on our global finance team are women, and I view it as my mission to create the environment for them to grow in their careers.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
With more than 246,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, there are a lot of dots to connect, people to interact with, and ground to cover. My job goes beyond the limits of our finance functions and compliance. To be successful, I believe I need to be out of my office and in the action of strategy and operations, as well as finance. This means that I have to work hard to “surgically” work that time around the schedule that is fixed for investors, the board, and management-team meetings. Technology helps, and we leverage it heavily.

What do you consider to be a critical skill for success in the CFO role?
Listen first. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room; those who do aren’t. Having an impact beyond finance and compliance, which is more and more critical in this complex world, means we have to have the ability to listen, synthesize, and then influence. Influencing is a lot harder to do than wielding power. We are given power through our role, but we earn the right to influence and achieve a better result through our day-to-day interactions and actions to solve problems for the benefit of the whole organization.