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If you’re applying for a CFO role, having an MBA degree on your resume beats a CPA credential

The ability for their companies to attract and retain talent is a top concern for CFOs. But the current war for talent isn’t ending anytime soon.

“I certainly think we will be living with this demand pace that we’ve seen for at least the next five years,” Clem Johnson, president of Crist|Kolder Associates, an executive search firm, told a group of CFOs last night in Chicago.

During Fortune’s CFO Collaborative, in partnership with Workday and sponsored by Deloitte held at Sepia restaurant, Fortune CEO Alan Murray had a discussion with Johnson about the demand for talent, the qualities companies are looking for in finance chiefs, and why CFOs who are certified public accountants (CPAs) are less in demand.

The CFO is the “nerve center of the enterprise,” Johnson told the finance chiefs in attendance. “You touch operations, supply chain, sales, and marketing.” He continued, “When we get a call from a board or CEO and they say, ‘We need a new CFO,’ it starts with a strategic lens in an almost commercial facing aspect that had never been there before.”

Traditionally, the role of the CFO was about managing risk and ensuring the enterprise has controls, he explained. “And then as things have continued to get more complex, sophisticated, and demanding,” CFOs find themselves “being ingrained in ops or commercial things,” he said. 

An example? One of Johnson’s clients requested him to recruit a CFO “who’s very fluent in pricing,” he said. “And pricing has not been the CFOs domain historically.” Finance chiefs are finding “more and more sub-functions” under their purview, he said.

A CFO who is strategic is so much in demand that those with an MBA are becoming more desirable to companies than those with a CPA, Johnson said. Crist|Kolder Associates’s recent survey of CFOs at Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies found that in 2022, 51.5% of finance chiefs had an MBA, compared to about a third who were CPAs. There have been instances when clients see a resume with a CPA accreditation listed, and they lose interest in the candidate, Johnson said. “Most of the time, we convince them to get over the optics and focus on what the person has actually achieved in recent years.”

With the explosion of data and digitization, many CFOs are overseeing the tech function including managing data science groups, Johnson said. He’s even worked with companies where the CFO is the steward of data on consumer behavior, he said. For example, when hotels ask guests what they liked about their stay or even whether they’d like to receive a newsletter in the morning, “believe it or not, all of that data, somehow rolls up under a CFO’s purview in many of those enterprises,” he said. 

Companies continue to seek CFOs who are risk averse and have “extraordinary professionalism,” Johnson said. However, communication skills are also in high demand, along with “more charisma, perhaps than then in the past,” he said. “The strategic aspect of the CFO role now comes with a commercial piece in partnering,” Johnson said.

CFOs can no longer just be the “enforcer or the bad cop,” he said. “It has to be someone who’s a business enabler and fundamentally is there to optimize shareholder value creation,” Johnson said. “You can’t just be cracking down on costs.”


Have a good weekend. Take care.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Health care spending in 2021 spiked an average of 14% per covered participant, the highest increase in a decade, according to the “2023 Health Plan Cost Trend Survey” by HR consulting firm Segal. Next year, when looking at trends for hospitals and physicians, the prices of goods and services are a more significant factor than the utilization of services. Price inflation for hospitals is projected to be 5.7%. “Hospital price increases continue to be a leading cost driver,” according to the report. “Shortages among nurses and the provider workforce have resulted in wage increases, as many health systems had to pay contract agencies or travelers who commanded higher rates to fill vacancies.”

Courtesy of Segal

Going deeper

Here are a few weekend reads:

“Jamie Dimon on how the government can solve inflation: It can’t” by Megan Leonhardt 

“Honda to employees: Oops, we miscounted your bonus, please give some of it back” by Alice Hearing

“Inside the Ethereum merge: Behind the scenes of the historic event, according to the people who made it possible” by Taylor Locke

“People are deciding you can’t have it all: 1 in 3 workers say they fear kids will set their career back” by Chloe Berger 

Leaderboard

Here’s a list of some notable moves this week:

Tarkan Gürkan was named CFO at Chobani, an American company that produces and markets Greek yogurt. Gürkan has more than 25 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Before joining Chobani, he was a chief investment officer at Shepherd Futures, LLC. Before that, he was SVP of corporate mergers and acquisitions at PepsiCo. He previously served as VP of corporate development at Campbell Soup Company. Gürkan also held financial leadership positions at Lehman Brothers Inc. and Nabisco Holdings Corp. He received his MBA from The Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College and his bachelor’s degree from Boğaziçi University.

Michael Bilerman was named EVP, CFO, and chief investment officer at Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. (NYSE: SKT), an operator of open-air outlet centers. Bilerman is expected to join the company in the fourth quarter of 2022. With nearly 25 years of industry experience, Bilerman has spent the entirety of his career in real estate. For the last 18 years, Bilerman has been at Citi, most recently serving as managing director and head of real estate and lodging within its Citi Research division. He started his career at Goldman Sachs.

Gemma Brown was promoted to CFO at Vaccitech plc (Nasdaq: VACC), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Brown succeeds Georgy Egorov. She joined Vaccitech as its head of financial reporting in 2021. Prior to joining Vaccitech, Gemma was at EY where she held positions of increasing responsibility, reaching the level of senior manager and participating in their accelerated leadership programs. While at EY, she worked with clients across the U.S. and U.K. capital markets.

Cecilia Jones was named CFO at Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: AGIO), effective Sept. 26. Jones will replace Jonathan Biller, the company’s previous CFO and head of corporate affairs who resigned. Jones joins Agios from LogicBio Therapeutics, where she served as CFO. Prior to her role at LogicBio, she spent more than 10 years at Biogen in roles of increasing responsibility within the finance organization. Most recently, she was vice president of R&D, worldwide medical, and business development finance. 

Eric Ingvaldson was named CFO at Pineapple Energy Inc., a provider of sustainable solar energy and backup power to households and small businesses, effective Oct. 10. He succeeds Mark Fandrich, who resigned in August. Most recently, Ingvaldson served as the CFO and COO of Kradle. He also led the finance operations of C.H. Robinson’s International Division, where he helped grow the business from $100 million to $2 billion in annual revenue. Ingvaldson was also the finance leader for C.H. Robinson’s acquisitions and divestitures around the world.

Stephen Johnston was named CFO at Ideanomics (Nasdaq: IDEX), a global company focused on accelerating the commercial adoption of electric vehicles, effective immediately. Before joining Ideanomics, Johnston served as the CFO of Dura Automotive Systems, a global automotive supplier. His experience in finance spans manufacturing and automotive engineering industries with national and global companies like Tower Automotive and Nexteer Automotive.

Ben Lu was named CFO at Bird Global, Inc. (NYSE:BRDS), an electric vehicle company. Lu succeeds Yibo Ling. He brings over 25 years of diverse and extensive experience in the technology sector and was most recently the CFO of Archer Aviation. Before Archer, Lu was the VP of finance at Logitech International.

Overheard

“We call this productivity paranoia: Leaders are worried their people aren’t working enough, while many employees are working more than ever.”

—Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of modern work, writes in a Fortune opinion piece that the company’s recent survey found that 85% of leaders said that the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that people are productive. However, most employees (87%) report that they are productive at work.

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The 4-day workweek has detractors but research shows employees get more sleep—and that could reduce ‘bad work outcomes’ 

Just as not every CEO buys into remote work, not every business leader thinks a four-day workweek is right for their company. Employees do appear to get more sleep, though, when given the extra day off—and that could help the bottom line.

“Sleep and work are sort of in competition with each other,” Christopher Barnes, a University of Washington management professor, told Bloomberg this week. “When you trade sleep for work, it’s problematic. You sacrifice your health and have bad work outcomes.”

Juliet Schor, a sociologist and economist at Boston College, is tracking organizations across the globe as they experiment with a four-day week. “Employers are realizing that if they can rethink where people work, they can also rethink how many days they’re on the job,” she said in a TED talk this year.

Among workers who switched to four days, according to her, the percentage getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night dropped from 42.6% to 14.5%, and they registered 7.58 hours per night of sleep, nearly a full hour more than they did before the change.

“I wasn’t surprised that people are getting a little more sleep, but I was surprised at how robust the changes were,” Schor told Bloomberg.

In survey results released this month by the 4 Day Week Campaign in the U.K., 46% of respondents said their business productivity has “maintained around the same level,” while 34% reported that it had “improved slightly,” and 15% said it has “improved significantly.”

But skeptics remain, and the four-day week isn’t for all, including companies that have otherwise shown flexibility by embracing remote work. FleetCor Technologies, for instance, lets certain employees work from anywhere, or use a hybrid model, which it says hasn’t led to a drop in productivity, according to TechTarget.

But the Atlanta-based firm, which processes workforce payments, isn’t considering a four-day workweek. “Our customers need us seven days a week,” chief HR officer Crystal Williams told TechTarget.

In Congress, progressive California lawmaker Mark Takano introduced the 32-Hour Workweek Act in July. The legislation wouldn’t penalize companies for not adopting the four-day workweek, but it would incentivize them to do so, as they’d be required to pay workers overtime after 32 hours.

“There’s economic, political, social upheaval,” he told the New York Times in March. Americans don’t “want to return to the same old normal.”

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.

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Con Edison to sell U.S. renewable energy units to RWE in $6.8B deal (NYSE:ED)

hrui

Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED) announced Saturday it agreed to sell its wholly-owned Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses to German utility RWE (OTCPK:RWEOY) in a transaction valued at $6.8B.

Con Edison (ED) said the deal will allow it to “sharply focus on our core utility businesses and the investments needed to lead New York’s ambitious clean energy transition.”

RWE (OTCPK:RWEOY) said the acquisition will nearly double its renewables portfolio in the U.S. to more than 7 GW.

In light of the pending deal, Con Edison (ED) said it will forego its previously announced plan to issue up to $850M of common equity in 2022 and withdraw its equity guidance for 2023 and 2024.

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For European pharmas, poor Q3 performance makes the quarter one to forget (NYSE:GSK)

AlexLMX/iStock via Getty Images

Like most of the rest of the stock market, the third quarter is one to forget for major European pharmaceutical companies.

In Q3 2022, the S&P 500 was down ~5%. The SPDR MSCI Europe Health Care UCITS ETF, whose primary listing on Euronext Paris (ticker: STW), fared even worse, down 8% for the quarter. Its top 10 holdings are among the largest European pharmas based on market cap.

Europe’s biggest drug company, Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY)(OTCQX:RHHBF), was also the best pharma performer of the quarter, down only 2%.

A major overhang for the company is the impending launch of generics of one of its best selling drugs, Lucentis (ranibizumab), for age-related macular degeneration. In Q2, Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) reported US sales of the treatment of CHF 316M ($320.1M), a decline of ~4% from the year-ago period.

On Monday, Coherus BioSciences (CHRS) will launch Cimerli, its biosimilar to Lucentis, in the US. In September, the European Medicines Agency’s recommended approval of Stada’s Ximluci biosimilar in the EU.

Roche is hoping that its follow-in to Lucentis, Vabysmo (faricimab), will blunt some of the blow from Lucentis generics. In Q2, it brought in sales of CHF 109M ($110.4M).

The second best performer of the month was fellow Swiss pharma Novartis (NYSE:NVS), which was down ~9%. While Novartis (NVS) benefitted earlier this year from several US drug approvals — such as Vonjo (pacritinib) and Pluvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan) — Q3 was much quieter on that front.

In the US in the quarter, the FDA approved a combination of the company’s Tafinlar (dabrafenib) + Mekinist (trametinib) for solid tumors with a certain mutation while in the EU, Scemblix (asciminib) was approved in August for chronic myeloid leukemia.

Novartis (NVS) just hit a 52-week low of $52.10 on Sept. 26. A major lingering concern for the pharma is the potential launch of generics of its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug, Gilenya (fingolimod). It had 2021 sales of ~$2.8B. On Sept. 29, the US Supreme Court issued a stay on a mandate from an appeals court that would have allowed Gilenya generics.

Just behind Novartis (NVS) was Danish pharma Novo Nordisk (NVO), which was off ~10% in the quarter. A key highlight for the diabetes treatment company was its $1.1B acquisition of Forma Therapeutics (FMTX), which is focused on sickle cell disease.

In September, the company was buoyed by data from a late-stage trial showed that showed once-weekly insulin icodec led to better results compared to its own once-daily Tresiba (insulin degludec).

Novo Nordisk has benefitted immensely since the June 2021 approval of Wegovy (semaglutide) as a weight-loss treatment. In Q2, however, revenue of 1.2B Danish Krone (~$158.2M) compared to 1.4B ($184.5M) in Q1.

Wegovy will also likely soon have competition from Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro (tirzepatide). Although currently only approved for diabetes, Lilly is pursuing approval Mounjaro as a weight-loss treatment. In a head-to-head trial, Mounjaro beat Wegovy in terms of A1C and body weight reductions.

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) lost 17% in the quarter. It hit a 52-week low of $52.65 on Sept. 26. The company did have some positive catalysts in the quarter in terms of readouts from several trials looking at expanding indications for several of its oncology treatments. Last month, however, Credit Suisse cut its rating to neutral saying that AstraZeneca’s (AZN) current stock price reflects its oncology potential.

The bottom two large European pharmas, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), lost, respectively, ~18% and ~26% in the quarter. GSK’s (GSK) major event in Q3 was the July spinoff of its consumer healthcare unit into a separately traded company, Haleon (HLN), which is also down significantly since it began trading.

Sanofi (SNY), as well as GSK (GSK) and Haleon (HLN), were also impacted in the quarter by worries over potential legal exposure to lawsuits over the heartburn drug Zantine (ranitidine) and apparent links to unacceptable levels of potential human carcinogen, N-nitrosodimethylamine. The companies have said there is no evidence that Zantac is linked to cancer.

One closely watched European pharma, BioNTech, was down 14% in the quarter. The company, which along with Pfizer (PFE) developed the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, has been dealing with declining sales of the shots.

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