An Interview with a Chief Financial Officer
Part 1: Interview
Summary of the Interview
1.0 In brief, specify your job title and describe your educational qualification relevant to the position you hold.
I am the Chief Financial Officer at the Wayne Campus of the University of Phoenix. In relation to my education, I hold a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to that, I hold a master’s degree in Finance from the same university. Also, relevant to my current position, I am a certified financial planner and a certified public accountant.
2.0 In summary, what are your routine activities as a Chief Financial Officer?
First, I supervise the personnel working in the accounts office at the campus. Secondly, I link the Campus with the University’s main financial office and other campuses. This often occurs in the form of meetings and relays of financial information about the campus. Thirdly, I am tasked with enforcing the university policy, with respect to financial management at the campus. Fourth, I am involved in resource allocation planning, a function that is done jointly with the campus administration. There are many other functions
2.0 How does being a financial manager at a major institution impacts on you as a person and a professional?
This environment provides the perfect conditions for learning and professional development. As you know, a university is a place for learning and research. In addition to the routine financial management practices, new methods of management are devised often ensuring continuous improvement. As a person, this management or supervisory position enables me to actualize my objectives and vision as young learner, 10 years ago. I work hard and diligently to ensure that the work satisfies my expectations. The minimum requirement for this position is that you must meet the standard guidelines and objectives of the university.
4.0 In terms of education and experience, what are the requirements for entry into such a magnificent management position?
Just like any other higher-level position, education alone is not sufficient to land a job like this. It is a leadership position that requires both social and technical skills. Of course, one must have a relevant educational background including a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and relevant professional certification. It is a position that demands a lot from the office holder, and so you must have the essential credentials to prove that you can deliver in this position. In addition to the technical skills, experience is very important. Management and planning require superior ability for leadership and personnel management. Demonstrated skills in those aspects carry weight in securing this kind of position.
5.0 Having said that, how, then, can cope with this kind of barriers to entry into management, regardless of the organization?
Every great story starts with a humble beginning. The first approach is to find out your personal competencies; do you have the skills essential for leadership and management? The next step would be to obtain the necessary education, after which you practice starting a lower-level position. With sufficient experience, opportunities for higher-scale management will come calling, but at the right time. This is what I can call the pathway to management.
Insight into Management from the Interview
The conversation that I had with the Chief Financial Officer was an experience that shed light on realigning personal objectives with vision. Management is much more than just the technical skills that a person gains in school through studies on various topics. It is a holistic working expectation, where an individual is expected to perform the required activities with a greater perspective of the world. Management is about managing the personnel, resources, and both the environment under which work takes place.
As a minimum requirement, supervisory and management jobs requires educational qualification in relevant areas. Looking at management from the financial perspective, of course, one must have the basic financial education to understand the overall expectations of such an environment. However, a high-level of educational qualification is essential, in order to gain an advantage over potential competitors during the application, interview, and recruitment processes. For this reason, focus should be aimed at fostering academic competencies early on in the life of an aspiring manager. As a person in the early stages of career development, I understand that this is the time to perfect my technical skills. Management is a challenging task that requires great ability to solve enormous problems. In addition to education, management positions require proof of competencies. For this reason, certification by professional bodies is mandatory for any aspiring manager.
In addition to education, a great deal of experience engaging in management-related activities is essential to gain entry into higher-level management. It is not possible to obtain a direct entry into such positions immediately upon graduating from college. First, a person must obtain relevant experience. This may mean begging from a humble position, which in many cases involves utilizing technical skills, purely. This may appear as unrelated to management, but a person in such a position practices team dynamics, people skills, and communication competency. Slowly, a person gains experience and additional technical capacity through continuous education. With time, and on merit, a person moves up the ladder of management. A crucial lesson to have patience as you work on technical and leadership competencies
Team participation and information management are also very significant in management. Human resources are at the core of management. In addition to steering the organization towards the future, in line with the objectives, the manager is also required to communicate the organization’s vision, mission, and objectives effectively to the lower-level staff. It is vital that the manager has effective people skills. Management is supposed to influence the direction and the general performance of the organization. For this reason, organizational leaders and supervisors must be able to ensure the acceptance and support of the organization’s strategies by all the stakeholders. Sometimes, this requires changing the culture of an institution and championing the adoption of the organization’s new culture. This requires great communication and people skills. Information management is useful in terms of planning. A manager must be a good planner, and good planning requires effective and efficient information management. This implies that knowledge of information management is essential.
In relation to the holistic nature of the management functions, a student can stand a better chance of success by engaging in meaningful programs involving student mentorship and personal development. For example, one can build their people skills by engaging in activities such as sports and community outreach programs. In addition, one can seek mentorship support from a person already in management. The professional can act as a role model for the student or young professional. Through that, a person is able to keep track of their development because they are pursuing their careers, in line with the expectations.
In brief, and from the perspective of the interview, I can say that management is not limited to the internal environment of the organization. It also involves working with the community in ensuring that the organization’s objectives are in line with the corporate expectations for community development. From the financial officer, I learnt that, in addition to being responsible to the organization, you are also responsible to the community by virtue of being a community citizen. Your role as a leader in an organization is to ensure that the organization’s strategies benefit the organization, but also adds value to life within the community. This is often referred to as corporate social responsibility in the wider corporate world. Therefore, building a platform for leadership involves taking care of education, experience, as well as social competence.
Journal Entry 1: Connecting Education to Management
In reference to my current status in education, I am quite comfortable and feel really good. From the coursework and experience with the instructor, I know that I am in the right career and that my progress is on the right path. I also understand that the best way to have a bright future is to study effectively. I am confident that I am well prepared to become a successful professional, and to become a good manager of community resources. In line with the need for effective communication skills, I participate in class discussions and other interactive forums. In addition, I engage my instructor with questions to boost my confidence.
Journal Entry 2: Personal Time Management
We all know that time passes fast. In management, efficiency and effectiveness are factors of great importance. Time management is about making efficiency and effectiveness apply to you, as a professional, and your daily routines. How a manager takes control of this basic resource, (time) is very important and is a good indicator of whether a manager succeeds in his function. Indicators of poor time management include lateness in attending meetings, late-minute rushes to meet deadlines, and days moving without any achievement. This degrades performance and must be stopped. From observation of activities related to management, delay of projects and piling of workloads are some of the symptoms associated with improper time management. For a manager, effective personal time management allows him/her to eliminate wastage, prepare for meetings, monitor projects, allocate resources appropriately, plan each day efficiently, and monitor the progress of projects. With proper time management, this can be done with little self-discipline.
Journal Entry 3: Interaction with Colleagues
Most organizations do not run for charity. Tasks must be accomplished to meet objectives. This is the reason why teamwork and interpersonal communication are vital factors. Managers must exhibit exceptional communication and people management skills. In many cases, effective management depends less on technical skills, but heavily on interactions with colleagues and subordinates. The role of managers is to communicate the organizational strategy to the lower-level personnel. The capacity to influence them depends on the manager’s ability to interact and communicate effectively with them. Tales of successful managers such as Richard Branson hinge on the attention that they pay to team work and effective communication.
In relation to personal endeavors in education, the learning environment has been organized such that students engage each other in productive interactions. I am often involved in group projects, discussions, simulations, and other interactive student sessions. The purpose of this is to sharpen communication skills and people management, which are very fundamental to management careers.
Journal Entry 4: Making God Decisions
Decision making is an essential factor in management. During my time in high school, I had very good grades and GPA score. However, my ACT/SAT scores were low. This is a setback that I think could have been managed better through good decision making. I should have studied with appropriate decision making, with respect to allocating more time to the areas where my performance was poor. The case is similar with my observation on management. Managers identify opportunities and make quick decisions to take advantage of opportunities to influence organizational performance, in a positive way. In the same way, good decision making ensures that managers respond to threats to prevent adverse effects on the threats on the organization. In management, there are rules and guidelines to follow in making decisions. However, grey areas require that managers use wisdom to make choices.
Journal Entry 5: The General Organizational Environment
For managers, the ability to manage both the specific and external environment is fundamental. The external environment includes institutions outside of the organization that have the potential to affect the performance of the organization. The specific environment is that, which is relevant to the achievement of the organization’s goals; for example, clients, competitor, suppliers, and investors. The broad aspects of the external environment make up the general environment. These are components including technological, political, economic, socio-cultural, demographic, and global conditions. For example, must be able to manage the performance of the organization, with respect to the potential effects of economic conditions such as inflation and interest rates. Professionals involved in management should take a holistic approach in managing the organization’s environment.
Journal Entry 6: Management and Personal Life
The family is very important for any manager. During interviews, scrutiny is made to explore several attributes of the candidates. In most cases, this includes the candidates’ family values. Therefore, it is essential that a person takes care of their private life, as well. Issues of integrity are fundamental to a successful career in management. The implication of this is that one needs to keep a healthy balance between personal endeavors and work. Great managers invest a great deal of their time in their families. They engage their families in conversations and activities that make them experience a positive environment of love. Perhaps, it is the peace of mind that managers have at home that makes them excel at work. Without integrity and personal values, a leader can fall to ruin due to mischievous activities such as fraud. Therefore, aspects of the manager’s personal life can be great indicators of professional potential. In general, management is about the whole rather than specifics. One must attain a working balance between work and private business. In addition, an aspiring manager must work on integrity issues because they can come affect a candidate’s chances of obtaining a management position.