Lessons from Microsoft’s First Female CFO

Amy Hood, Microsoft’s CFO

Amy Hood has been named the new chief financial officer of Microsoft, replacing Peter Klein, who announced his plans to leave the company last month. Klein will stay on board through June to ensure that Hood has a smooth transition into her new position. Before becoming the first female CFO in Microsoft’s history, Hood served as the CFO of the Microsoft Business Division. In that position, she managed a budget of over $24 billion and was heavily involved in the execution of acquisitions, including an $8 billion deal for Skype.

Prior to her role with Microsoft Business Division, Amy Hood also worked for Goldman Sachs in various capacities. She received her bachelor’s degree from Duke before getting her Master’s from Harvard University. As the first female CFO at Microsoft, Hood is also one of only four female executives at Microsoft.

Aside from her accomplishment, Amy Hood is a mighty example of how a CFO can quickly and effectively rise to prominence. While Hood is certainly recognized for her financial skill, her ability to lead and take part in operational management made her the prime candidate to replace the outgoing Peter Klein.

A Reminder that Soft Skills Are Becoming More Important

As CFOs like Amy Hood continue breaking boundaries and taking on more roles outside of the financial realm in a company, it’s more important than ever for them to master their “soft skills.” No longer is it enough for a CFO to simply be “the numbers guy.” Instead, CFOs are seen as leaders and face the demands of improving company performance. Nontechnical skills that are becoming more important for CFOs include:

  • Relationship building. CFOs must learn to work with leaders in various departments as well as give convincing presentations for stakeholders, investors, and executive management. In this sense, CFOs also play the role of a strategist.
  • Communication. Whether it’s making the case for budget changes or leading a workflow process, CFOs must communicate effectively to be successful.
  • Strategic planning. Aside from strategically managing finances and operational processes, CFOs must also strategically plan any collaborations, system overhauls, and anything else that isn’t directly related to numbers.

While Amy Hood is certainly qualified to be the first female CFO at Microsoft, she’s also a sturdy reminder that, along with technical experience, soft skills are required for career success as a CFO as well.