According to an article in Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal by Maxwell Murphy, it took Illumina 2.5 years to hire their Chief Financial Officer, Mark Stapely. (Illumina’s CFO hire was reported in our CFO Moves blog).
Now that, my friends, is a long search.
From my perspective as a CFO Search specialist, 2.5 years is a very long time. There were many reasons cited by the CEO as to the reason that it took that long, but in reality, they sound like excuses, not reasons.
Let’s put it this way. If a company is serious about hiring a CFO, then they will make hiring their CFO a priority. They will retain an experienced executive search firm, create appropriate assessment of the specifications needed for the role together with the search firm, and work to identify the potential candidates that could be appropriate for the role.
Why did it take so long?
Here are some (potential) reasons:
They weren’t serious about hiring. To hire a CFO, you need to be serious. CFOs are smart people. CFOs know when a company that is going through the motions of looking for a Chief Financial Officer, but don’t mean it.
They had a CFO. According to the article, the CFO spot was covered, even though the person covering it was happy to move on to an operational role now that he is relieved from his CFO duty.
There was no pain. Illumina was growing rapidly, cash was coming in, and they didn’t need to raise financing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what made Illumina finally get serious and hire their CFO? Good chance that it was beginning to feel the pain of not having a top quality CFO at the helm and they had to make it a priority.
For the CFO – just because a company says they are hiring a CFO, you should evaluate how serious they are about hiring the best person for the job.
For a company needing a CFO – before you tell the world you are looking for a CFO, make sure you are really ready to go through the process and make the decision. Otherwise, you may have a credibility problem when people know that it took you 2.5 years to hire your CFO.
How long should it take to hire a CFO?
If a company is truly serious about hiring their next CFO and is willing to make the search a priority, it shouldn’t take more than 3 months to complete the search.
How long did it take to hire your CFO?