International Moves: DeNA West Names CFO Shintaro Asako as New CEO

In a major move, DeNA West announces that CFO Shintaro Asako will be promoted to CEO as Clive Downie resigns. Based in Tokyo, Japan, DeNA is a global leader that specializes in developing mobile services including mobile e-commerce platforms, free-to-pay games, and other game development amenities. The company aims to break into the Western market and mirror its level of success in Japan with American gamer audiences.

This isn’t the first time that a CFO has found himself at the helm of a company after top executive resignation. Just earlier this month, Schaeffler AG announced that CFO Klaus Rosenfeld would serve as the company’s interim CEO after Juergen Geissinger left the German automobile company. For many organizations, the CFO seems the logical replacement – or interim fulfillment – as the head of the business.

The last two decades have expedited this trend, as corporate CFOs have evolved from finance gurus to holistic company strategists and planners. Involved in almost every department in the company, CFOs have accelerated the expansion of their role, especially during the 2008 financial crisis. In fact, an estimated 65 percent of financial executives throughout the globe believe that the financial slowdown contributed to the evolution of their position. The inevitable result is that financial executives hold more sway than ever before.

Still, CFOs are split on whether or not they should – or even want to – climb the corporate ladder. While 40 percent of CFOs said that they would like the opportunity to succeed the current CEO, 35 percent said that they wouldn’t want that opportunity. Of the CFOs who want the promotion, an estimated 60 percent believe that their CEO would provide an endorsement should they seek a top executive role at another company.

Various Pathways to Executive Leadership

In a report from the Korn/Ferry Institute, the pathway from CFO to CEO has become wider throughout the years, especially since the global financial crisis. The reality is that CFOs are increasingly attractive options or candidates for the role of CEO because of the increased skill set that their role currently requires. From strong financial acumen to corporate governance, risk management abilities to interpersonal skills, CFOs have the experience necessary to strategically transition into a higher position should they want it.

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