Being proactive and hard working pays career dividends for aspiring CFOs


Being proactive, hard working, adaptive and confident all make the list of personal characteristics shared by successful CFOs, says recruiting experts Hays in Malaysia.

According to a survey of 145 CFOs, conducted for the recruiter’s ‘DNA of a CFO’ report, 61% of CFOs said that being proactive has aided their career success.

This was followed by being hard working (44%), adaptive (43%), confident (42%), ethical (41%), credible (40%) and collaborative (40%).

“Finance teams traditionally have heavy workloads and lots of deadlines to meet, which places a great deal of importance on the value of being proactive and hard working,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“We frequently work with board directors and non-executive directors to appoint CFO posts, and find that included in the key attributes explored at selection stage is a proactive approach to work and problem solving. A board will turn to their CFO to be a trusted adviser, someone that helps the organisation create a ‘no surprises’ environment and who can prioritise opportunity and mitigate risk.

“For any aspiring CFO, demonstrating that you combine talent and expertise with a proactive work ethic can help you stand out from your competition.”

When it comes to career development, 49% of CFOs said they have recently attended a networking event.

“CFOs appear to value being able to share their thoughts and concerns with other finance leaders, and learn from them. Sounding boards are very helpful to them,” says Christine.

“You only have to look at the appetite from the next generation to see how technology will play its part in helping CFOs of the future share information.”

Reassuringly, the majority of the CFOs in the Hays survey are generally happy with their role since most would either like to stay in their current post or take on a bigger finance job, such as CFO of a larger organisation. An ambitious 18% have their sights set on making Chief Executive Officer, while 5% dream of starting their own business. 34% already sit on the board.

Encouragingly 86% say that if they had their time all over again, they would still choose to become CFOs.

145 finance professionals were surveyed face to face over November 2014 and January 2015. The majority held the position of CFO, while a small percentage indicated their current job title was Finance Director, Group, Divisional or Regional Finance Director, Director of Finance, Head of Finance or GM of Finance.

Respondents were based across Singapore (25%), Hong Kong (12%), Malaysia (10%), China (28%) and Japan (25%). 55 per cent work in commercial or industry organisations. These CFOs were asked about their educational background, qualifications, international experience, responsibilities, challenges and personal aspirations. In addition we held in-depth interviews with CFOs across Asia whose profiles appear in the report. Please visit

Hays is located in Kuala Lumpur at Suite 4 & 5, Level 23, Menara 3, Petronas, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Phone +60 3 2786 8600 or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Lucy Sharp, Regional Head of Marketing at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9885 or



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