By Allan Tepper, Senior Managing Director, CFO Consulting Partners LLC
Should the CFO be at the table when the CEO is meeting with his executives? Apparently, according to the NY Post article by Keith Kelly on March 19, 2011 (page 25), some senior staff people at Time Inc. think so. See article at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/jack_last_stand_siRYOg7chEA54VzUCJCkcJ
Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin, was dismissed after six months for apparently have a fight with General Counsel Maurice Edelson, who was speaking on behalf of himself, CFO Howard Averill and Editor & Chief John Huey. The confrontation was why the three were not invited to a meeting that Griffin was having with Time’s key revenue producers.
On the surface, a confrontation over being at meeting doesn’t seem plausible, but many senior staff people feel they need to be at the table when the discussion is likely to center around key strategic issues. In fact, not being at these types of meetings can often lead to communication issues within a company and ultimately to subpar company performance. It may also devalue the position of the CFO in the eyes of his or her peers.
So, the question in my mind is – should the senior staff people at Time Inc. have asked to be at the table? I think the answer is an absolute YES. What shouldn’t have happened is an altercation between the CEO and his direct report. The key takeaway is that the CFO is an important player in the organization, needs to be at important meetings, and he or she should argue for that right.