Debra Mason has served as CFO of 10 companies. Here’s what she’s learned.


“I think people are realizing that there are a lot of finance and CFO types [with] more to say than just what the finances look like”


Mason acknowledges the substantial shift in CFO responsibilities since she started in the early 1990s. Today, “you have to be able to work on things outside the finance area, and have those departments reporting into you,” she said. 

Mason lists groups that have reported to her in the past: ad ops, customer service, global outsourcing, IT, print publications, and many more. “I think the managers of those divisions are now seeing the value of being more closely connected to the CFO,” she said. 

But some aspects of the CFO role have remained static, Mason said. “It all comes back to, at the end of the day, CFOs still having to understand everything to do with financial statements, and how to keep balance sheets clean and the company solid.” The difference is, and the thing that is now a requirement, she said, is the ability to really get out and work with the organization in a more direct and open fashion.” 

Mason cites dealing with customer service and growth or operational systems as “the lifeblood of what the company actually does.” And she cites the present as the best time to be a CFO.

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