Here's a tip, or two, that might help you get to the CFO seat some day...

Have you just qualified and are planning your professional future? Do you see your future self as CFO…but aren’t sure how best to get there?

The Traditional Career Path has Changed

10 years ago, a typical career progression to the role of CFO might have looked like this:

Big 4 training…progression through financial management roles in 2-3 companies…gaining exposure to different organisational types…dynamics and fields of finance (M&A, transformation, cost accounting etc)…and then appointment to an FD, or CFO, role.

Today, it may be a bit different. Yes, of course, there will be CFOs with this background, and they are still in demand in Ireland. However, businesses are also starting to seek people with cross-functional experience due to the pivotal role that the CFO plays in business.

How Can You Gain This Cross-Functional Experience?

If you’re seeking to reach the C-suite, you need to think seriously about generalising, and gaining non-finance expertise. This can be difficult in your existing role, or by jumping straight into a similar role, with another company.

Applying for, and accepting, a contract role in another function will provide you with the perfect opportunity to gain other and diverse skills and expertise. Not only that, getting a year’s experience in a field where your competition aren’t will also put you ahead, and help you to stand out from the crowd.

Double Jump…

In certain circumstances you can secure a role one step away (e.g. financial accountant to financial analyst). However by applying for and accepting a contract role, and taking a chance, there is more potential to jump more than one step. In Barden we refer to this as a ‘double jump’. A little unsure about what we mean by a ‘double jump’, or simply curious? Check out our Barden Career Model where we explain it in more detail.

Key areas you could consider branching out into, or gaining project expertise in, include: MIS/IT, BI/analytics, supply chain and demand planning, commercial management (bids and contracts), risk management, corporate governance, internal audit and or FP&A.

Other Benefits of Contract Roles

  • Salary – the perceived risks associated with contract roles often lead to a higher remuneration being offered.
  • Flexibility – many contract roles are for shorter periods of time, giving you the flexibility to work with different people and organisations, and or take some time to travel!
  • Building your network – contract roles provide you with an opportunity to gain exposure to and build relationships with others from different commercial backgrounds.
  • Out of your comfort zone – it’s often when we step out of our comfort zone that the magic happens. Contracts provide you with the opportunity to test, and enhance, your skills, knowledge and expertise.

A couple of other things that are good to remember…

All permanent roles include a probation period, usually 6 months in length. So effectively all permanent roles are essentially 6 month contracts. If you don’t prove your worth in your first 6 months it won’t work out. So, put yourself out there, put in the graft and make sure the company will do everything in its power to turn a contract role into a permanent position, while also doing a double jump!

Finally, you don’t always have to look outside for a contract role. Companies often look internally before externally, so keep an eye for opportunities that arise, or projects that you could get involved in.

Good luck!


Not only are most of our recently qualified accountant recruitment team in Barden (Meet our teams – DublinCork) accountants just like you, we have all been trained in the Barden Career Model (TM).  This unusual blend of experience, knowledge and training allows us to provide a different type of recruitment service!

Contact OR and our recently qualified accountant recruitment experts will arrange a time that suits you to start planing your future.

(Got another question?  Need a steer to keep you on the right track?  Check out the Barden Newly Qualified Accountant Career Guide right here>>>)

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there!

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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