Strategic transformation demands more than score-keeping skills.
Jim O’Connor is a principal with Archstone Consulting and is located in Chicago. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financing the energy enterprise is a complex undertaking. Recent events suggest companies are looking to multi-talented CFOs—whether they have utility industry experience or not—to deliver more guidance to business operations. Several of the industry’s top-performing companies—for example, Energy Future Holdings (the former TXU), Exelon, and Sempra Energy—have been guided by CFOs with an expansive sense of what the finance office should offer to the business.
Increasingly CFOs are developing the skills and capabilities to move beyond the traditional role of traffic cop to the more valued roles of business partner and enabler.
Former Exelon CFO John Young recently became CEO of Energy Future Holdings. Young’s appointment marks the second time the big Texas utility has tapped an enterprising CFO for the CEO position. In early 2004, former Entergy CFO John Wilder was named CEO of TXU. Through outsourcing, asset sales and other restructuring efforts, Wilder strengthened the company’s balance sheet before last year’s dramatic takeover by KKR and Texas Pacific Group. Wilder was comfortable with these sorts of big, transformative initiatives because, while serving as the Entergy CFO, his team partnered with business leaders to meet the operational imperatives of cost effectiveness and improved risk management.1