Key Capabilities for the Modern CFO

The chief financial officer role has changed significantly over time, taking on greater strategic responsibilities. In a new report, Herbert Mines Associates breaks down the essential requirements for the position.

March 28, 2022 – In today’s talent marketplace, there has been a significant shift in demand toward the “Modern CFO.” The chief financial officer role has evolved towards a forward-looking strategic business partner who oversees a broad functional range of responsibilities and has strong relationships across the organization. Gone are the days of CFOs as gatekeepers in a back-office function. “The Modern CFO asks every day, ‘What can I do to support the business?’ and ‘How can we best leverage our capital for future growth?’” said Ryan Parker, vice president at Herbert Mines Associates, in a new report. “Given the current global uncertainty, now is a critical time for CFOs to be courageous and look ahead of the curve for new opportunities to unlock business value.”

Below are “must have” capabilities that Herbert Mines Associates has observed in Modern CFOs:

Jack Of All Trades

The Modern CFO “knows enough to be dangerous” in many areas of the organization, said Mr. Parker. They understand the business issues that cross functional peers face and how they can be a strategic partner in supporting key initiatives. “It is critical for finance leaders to insert themselves into the business as the ‘voice of reason’ when needed,” he noted. “CFOs are evolving towards generalist C-suite leaders focused on driving transformations within and outside of finance.”

Soft Skills

While financial capabilities such as accounting and FP&A are table stakes for CFOs, soft skills truly differentiate the Modern CFO. Communication and empathy capabilities are in high demand as organizations continue to deal with the unexpected. “Best-in-class CFOs have expanded beyond technical skills to develop people-oriented competencies,” noted the report. “The Modern CFO can inspire, mentor and motivate people to achieve the mission critical objectives.”


If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that CFOs must scenario plan for a changing future. In a crisis, all eyes are on CFOs, and they need to be decisive in the face of incomplete information. “The Modern CFO moves at a lightning pace to strategize how best to balance short term concerns with long term mission critical objectives,” said Mr. Parker. “Top CFOs have shifted from reporting the past to embracing an unknown future and leading transformation.”


With digital dashboards widely availability across organizations, the Modern CFO ensures the executive team understands the strategic implications of the data. Top CFOs communicate “the why” behind the data and incorporate their findings to contextualize financial results and shape future strategic initiatives, said the search firm. The Modern CFO partners closely with IT leaders to create a “decision-ready” organization with robust data quality and accessibility.

Ryan Parker is a vice president at Herbert Mines & Associates focused on digital transformation. He brings experience working in technology, digitally-native brands, cannabis, health & wellness and omni-channel retail with investor-backed and public companies. Mr. Parker has partnered with senior business leaders to implement innovative solutions across a broad spectrum of functions including information technology, sales, marketing, data and analytics and operations. 

Digital Fluency

“Today, the CFO must be a key player in developing and executing digital transformations across the organization,” said Mr. Parker. “More and more companies are leveraging technology to automate processes, reduce risk and create new innovative business models. It is critical for CFOs to be the driver of these digital initiatives to fully capture the return on investment.”

“As the largest executive search firm specializing in consumer and retail sectors, CFOs in our network are uniquely situated to drive transformation,” noted the report. “With a sustained shift in consumer behavior towards E-commerce, there are many opportunities to invest in omni-channel customer experiences that differentiate their brands. At the same time, consumer/retail CFOs face global supply chain volatility and inflation challenges that require significant risk management. Modern CFOs are best positioned to be the ‘game changers’ that their organizations need to thrive in these uncertain times.”

Established in 1978, Herbert Mines Associates is a specialist search firm focusing on the retail, fashion and apparel, beauty, consumer products and services, hospitality, leisure, restaurant, and digital/technology industries. The firm is noted for its C-suite recruiting work. The firm is based in New York City.

Recruiting CFOs

Chief financial officers continue to be in high demand. Finding them is keeping many of the nation’s top recruitment operations busier than ever. In recent months, search firms of all varieties have placed CFOs at various companies. And there is no let-up in sight. Here is a sampling of some top CFO searches from leading search firms!

ZRG Partners, a leading search firm backed by private equity firm RFE Investment Partners, has assisted in the recruitment of Jyotsana Sahota as the new chief financial officer of Level Up MD Urgent Care in Bloomfield, NJ. Managing partner Brian McGowan led the assignment, along with managing director Brian Kelley. Ms. Sahota is a seasoned professional who is effectively able to communicate with various levels of organization as well as external customers/clients. She has analytical and problem-solving skills in a fast-paced environments. Previously, she held the CFO roles at Spire Orthopedic Partners as well as Orthopedic & Neurosurgery Specialists. Earlier in her career, she was director of finance and division support at Valley Medical Group in Ridgewood, NJ.

Daversa Partners, which helps build leadership teams for growth and venture-backed companies, has assisted in the placement of Jose Zuniga as chief financial officer of Madison Reed in New York CityManuel Garcia, director at Daversa Partners, led the assignment.. “I am thrilled for Jose to be joining Madison Reed during this tremendous period of growth for our company,” said Amy Errett, founder and CEO of Madison Reed. “Not only does his unbelievably unique experience and vision meet the future of Madison Reed as our business expands, but it is also the unmatched passion, heart and soul that he brings to our company.”

The Tolan Group (TTG) recently placed Paul Valenti as the new CFO of The Plastic Surgery Center. “It was a privilege to work with Dr. Elkwood and the hiring team to bring on such a crucial member of the executive staff,” said Kaye Johnson, managing partner of the search firm that led the assignment. “We felt like Mr. Valenti was the perfect fit to help lead The Plastic Surgery Center in their next level of growth and expansion.” Ms. Johnson was recently named co-CEO of The Tolan Group after serving in leadership capacities for the firm over the past eight years. Mr. Valenti served as CFO of several healthcare companies. He was previously with The Eye Health Group.

Irvine, CA-based search firm McDermott + Bull has placed Richard Pimentel as chief financial officer at Community West Bank. He will serve in this capacity for both the bank and the holding company, and he will oversee both accounting and finance, as well as investor relations. He succeeds Susan Thompson, who recently transitioned to SVP, interim SEC reporting manager. The search was completed by McDermott + Bull president Brandon Biegenzahn, managing director Michelle Davis, and director Courtney Dorrel. “We are delighted to have Richard join our executive management team as CFO,” said Martin E. Plourd, chief executive officer.

Quick Leonard Kieffer has placed Pamela Cassara as chief financial officer of Cook County Health in Chicago. Adrienne White-Faines, Bill Foley, and Joe Johnston led the nationwide search, which included a large pool of candidates. Ms. Cassara comes to Cook County Health from Franciscan Alliance, where she served as chief financial officer. Previously, Ms. Cassara served as a regional director of finance at Franciscan Alliance; as chief financial officer of MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, IL, and of DeKalb Health in Auburn, IN; and in hospital CFO and controller roles within the Lutheran Health Network in Indiana.

Related: Executive Search Review Special Issue: Financial Services Recruiting

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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