Case Study: What CFOs Can Learn from Key Energy Services’ Senior VP

Key Energy Services recently announced the promotion of John Marshall Dodson as the company’s Senior Vice President and CFO. The announcement comes eight years after Mr. Dodson joined the company. He will be replacing T.M. “Trey” Whichard who retired from both positions. Dodson’s promotion is a reminder to all CFOs that the work they do now could set the stage for a larger role in the company.

In fact, several studies show that approximately 20 percent of all CEOs in the United States and Great Britain start as CFO beforehand. However, keep in mind that over half of executives considering promoting their CFO believe that their CFO is unqualified to be a chief operating officer. Only 17 percent said that their CFOs were ready to lead the company – which is in line with the statistic that only 20 percent of CEOs were former CFOs.

So how can CFOs eyeing larger roles in the future position themselves for a promotion like John Marshall Dodson? Simple: Become more involved in leading company operations. The problem is that most CFOs limit their work to financial duties. However, CFOs who expand their operational leadership such as Dodson gain the trust of top executives. They also develop and showcase the people skills that executives are known for.

The gap isn’t in ability or qualifications – it’s in the leadership skill displayed. When Key Energy Services announced that John Marshall Dodson would be promoted to both Senior Vice President and CFO, they cited his extensive experience in leading management operations. Dodson was directly involved in building banking relationships, accessing capital markets, and working with all senior executives in the company. In other words, Dodson wasn’t promoted solely because of his financial savvy – he was promoted because he incorporated operational leadership into his financial duties.

Likewise, CFOs aspiring for executive positions shouldn’t only focus on accounting, taxes, risk management, and other financial matters. They should showcase their functional leadership and interpersonal abilities as well.