Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive officer, announced in June he would be leaving the company. Few were surprised. Twitter’s stock price had fallen nearly 30 percent and shareholders were eager for a change. One initial favorite to succeed Costolo was Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer and former CFO of the National Football League. (At press time, a new CEO had not yet been named.)
Of course, unless you’re into Silicon Valley corporate intrigue, you probably don’t care who the next “Top Tweeter” is. But the Costolo-Noto story is noteworthy, because it shows that in some major companies today the CFO has a clear path to become CEO. In fact, in the past few months AMC Theatres, Siemens, BASF, Sprouts Farmers Markets and Blue Earth, among others, all hired a CEO from the CFO ranks. It seems that a growing number of corporate boards not only want traditional CEO skills like decisive decision-making and persuasive communication, but also the dispassionate, reflective, analytical leadership style we associate with CFOs.