How to become a CFO: 5 unusual ways to the top of the finance ladder

Discover the 5 unusual routes guests on the CFO Playbook podcast took to becoming CFOs, and what their journeys can teach us about the skills required to excel at the top job.

How do you become a CFO? If there’s one thing we’ve learned after 70 episodes of our podcast, The CFO Playbook, it’s that there’s no “right” pathway.

In this post, we’ll take a look at five unusual routes our podcast guests took to becoming CFOs, and what their journeys can teach us about the skills required to excel at the top job.

1. The accidental CFO: Minna Technologies’ Navpreet Randhawa
When Randhawa started his career, becoming a CFO was the furthest thing from his mind. Armed with an MBA degree, he headed off to Chicago to work in banking. But it didn’t take him long to discover it wasn’t really what he wanted to do.

“We were brokering a deal,” he says, “And I remember telling myself I didn’t want to be the one facilitating the deal…  I wanted to be the one who’s buying or selling.”

So how did he find himself thrust into his current role as Minna Technologies’ CFO?

Around 2018, Randhawa says, he decided he wanted to go back to building something. But because his previous experience as a startup founder was, in his own words, “lonely”, he was keen to work with someone else.

As luck would have it, he stumbled across Minna Technologies online, and the company impressed him so much that he got in touch to see how he could help. A few conversations later, the CEO had persuaded him to move to Sweden and become the company’s CFO.

“My job is to analyse… to look at the numbers and take critical business decisions. But I’m always listening and talking to vendors, because they are subject matter experts.”

But while his path has worked out for him — between 2019 and 2022, Minna Technologies have grown exponentially and raised $21.7million in series B funding — Randhawa cautions would-be CFOs against running before they can walk.

“It’s about knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at…” he says. Successful CFOs play to their strengths, and surround themselves with smart people who excel at those aspects of finance they can’t do so well.

Find out 4 other unconventional ways that some of the finance leaders we have spoken to recently have got to top spot

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