Finance & Financial Management - Articles

Meeting the challenges of CFOs today

Evren Ors, Academic Director of the Executive MSc in Finance (EMiF) at HEC Paris, discusses the challenges facing CFOs today and how the EMiF program helps future CFOs succeed.


What skills do CFOs need in today’s global business environment?

Evren Ors (EO): Today’s CFOs are at the frontier of a field that is constantly evolving. Beyond having an excellent understanding of their firm’s core business, CFOs need to master the tools and techniques available for finance professionals, understand the macroeconomic environment in which their company operates, think about financial decisions from the perspective of their company’s overall corporate strategy, and have strong negotiation skills. 


How has the role of CFO evolved?

EO: In recent years the financial environment in which CFOs operate has become more difficult, less predictable, and thus, more demanding. With the financial crises of the past decade, the economic uncertainties companies face in 2016 differ from those of 2006 or 2011. Assessing arising risks is a key ingredient for the CFO’s role. In today’s global economy many value-enhancing projects and acquisitions are now across borders, and they require sound country-risk assessment. In a world where markets are becoming ever more integrated, CFOs need to explore all financing options both domestically and internationally.


What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs?

EO: We’ve observed a knowledge gap between executives on the corporate side and investment bankers on the other. What are bread-and-butter transactions for investment bankers, such as M&As, IPOs, or divestitures, are typically once-in-a-career operations for many CFOs. This gap in experience could prove costly for corporations if CFOs aren’t knowledgeable about the latest techniques used by investment bankers. 


How does the Executive MSc in Finance program address these gaps?

EO: We offer a curriculum taught not only by leading academics in Paris, London and Doha, but also by experienced investment bankers. We revisit the fundamentals of financial analysis and instruments before exploring advanced corporate and international finance and tools, both from the complementary perspectives of academics and high-level practitioners.


What can a company gain from enrolling their finance professionals in the program?

Finance is complex and it’s difficult for corporations to stay competitive if they don’t invest in developing their up-and-coming managers’ talents on a regular basis. – Evren Ors, Associate Professor in Finance


What are the key benefits for program participants?

EO: Participants leave with a better ability to reason and operate within a context of constant change. They are tooled-up in advanced corporate finance techniques. They can comfortably operate in the more international business environment, be it for searching for business opportunities or better financing opportunities. In the process they will be able to negotiate better deals for the company. The program also provides the participants with access to the vast HEC Paris alumni network, which provides professional connections, informal mentoring, and career and business opportunities.

Evren Örs

Associate Professor, HEC Paris