A Report from the 2017 CFO of the Future Summit

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Amidst a backdrop of deepening digital disruption, growing political uncertainty, increasing regulatory complexity, and shifting consumer preferences, one thing is certain – chief financial officers are creating a new agenda for growth.

To effectively lead in this new environment, chief financial officers and finance executives must become “chief growth officers”—the point persons who not only control stability, accountability and risk, but also grow profitability, enterprise-wide agility, sustainability, and customer trust.

This growth-oriented pivot will be valuable, yet difficult. The chief growth officer must redefine the playbook of finance by embracing disruption, spearheading the development of new business models, and building agility into operations. Growth oriented and finance-led organizations often manage two or more different business models under one roof, free up resources to invest in growth initiatives, define and measure new key performance indicators, and create new ecosystems and platforms for rapid value creation. Perhaps most critically, the chief growth officer will spend time recruiting and building new talent to lead these initiatives, creating a team that thrives at the intersection of technology and finance.

At The 2017 CFO of the Future Summit: Fueling the Growth Agenda, convened by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and Leadership for a Networked World, in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, current and next-generation CFOs from leading global companies workshopped their successes and learned about the future of business from top researchers in the field.

The Summit focused on critical skills and questions CFOs grapple with today, including: What is transformational change and what does it take to drive transformation in a large organization? How can organizations disrupt themselves and find new business models? What is the future of value creation? What is the new face of the CFO and finance team? Beyond spreadsheets and financial models, what does a finance-led transformation look like?

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