I had the opportunity to speak with Jack Sweeney, founder and co-host of CFO Thought Leader and Middle-Market Executive, to get some insights about the role of CFOs in the middle-market and the challenges they face. Jack has many years of experience covering the field of finance, having held senior editorial positions at the CFO Alliance and Business Finance magazine.
Dave Phillips: Hi Jack, when we met a while back you had recently launched your online publication, Middle-Market Executive. Can you tell us about Middle-Market Executive and how the publication has progressed?
Jack Sweeney: Hi Dave. Middle-Market Executive officially launched a little more than 18 months ago. Our goal was to highlight the unique challenges facing middle market companies, which are often quite different than those faced by large enterprise firms. More recently, we started a companion publication called CFO Thought Leader. We podcast interviews with CFOs on a variety of topics related to finance leadership in the middle market. We’ve now posted nearly 23 hours of CFO interviews and have achieved some outstanding digital visibility. When users search the words “middle market CFO” today the top three URLs belong to our content. Essentially, our platforms allow CFOs to master their career narrative and talk about their companies and the key factors that drive their success.
Dave Phillips: In the numerous interviews you’ve done with CFOs in mid-sized firms, what are some of the common issues that you’ve uncovered?
Jack Sweeney: Well, when it comes to organizational leadership there’s a kind of new world order taking shape inside middle-market companies and the CFO is often front and center.
During the “Great Recession”, CFOs were increasingly invited to the strategy table to manage company downsizing to better reflect market realities. As the economy has been recovering, they have found that if they want to stay at the table, they need to get out on the frontlines and offer strategic solutions for growing the business and capitalizing on new opportunities. This is indicative of a general shift in expectations for CFOs. Gone are the days were they could remain in the back office and merely run the numbers. They have to be on the forefront of company strategy and proactively collaborate with both internal and external stakeholders. This has pushed a lot of the more traditional CFOs outside of their comfort zones.