Chief Financial Officer Program

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School


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Who should attend

The Chief Financial Officer program is uniquely designed to suit professionals with a strong finance background from diverse industries. Individuals new to a CFO role or stepping into such a financial leadership role will benefit from the in-depth curriculum, expert faculty, and invaluable networking opportunities. Participants would have:

  • A minimum of 10 years of work experience in Finance
  • Fluency in written and spoken English
  • International exposure is preferred

About the course

As the global economy and organizations have evolved, so has the role of the chief financial officer (CFO). The role's responsibilities have transformed from being an information gatekeeper to a strategic decision maker in the business. The growing trend of CFOs being promoted to CEO roles bears testament to this fact.

Organizations are witnessing profound changes driven by innovations in technology, business models, and rising expectations from boards and stakeholders. Today’s CFOs are not just driving cost efficiencies but also advancing into new frontiers, reacting to changing market conditions and competition, driving strategy around capital allocation, and conducting more in-depth risk analyses for actionable insights. According to a December 2018 McKinsey CFO survey, the number of functional areas reporting to CFOs increased from 4.5 in 2016 to about 6.2 just two years later, and 44 percent say they are leading transformation efforts within their organizations.

That’s why now, more than ever, CFOs must be strategic partners — able to nimbly execute and assertively communicate the strategies that will drive their companies forward. They must also be committed to data-driven decision making and capable of navigating complex financial operations that still include but go beyond previous duties.

The Chief Financial Officer Program will help financial leaders take the next step in their careers. Through a challenging curriculum driven by world-class faculty and the latest industry research and insights, this program will help senior leaders develop the knowledge and skills to seamlessly transition to the CFO role.

The program tackles various themes during the intensive six-month multimodular learning journey structured around value creation, capital markets, monitoring performance, strategy, leadership, and developing the relevant skills for the CFO. At the end of the six-month journey, participants are equipped with the skills, tools, and frameworks to lead the financial transformation and handle the increasingly complex challenges being faced by their respective organizations.


Learn from world-class faculty

Learn from Columbia Business School faculty who are world–renowned experts in their fields and get in-depth insights from industry practitioners.

Experience an expertly developed curriculum

Acquire the skills to be a successful CFO through a thoughtfully designed and cutting-edge curriculum. The program features real-world business challenges and project work, guided by expert faculty that allow you to apply your knowledge in real time.

Connect with your experienced peer group

Prepare for your next career milestone alongside other seasoned financial leaders from around the globe—and make new, lifelong connections.

Immerse yourself in the world's financial capital

Study at an Ivy League business school located in the financial capital of the world — New York City.

Step into your next leadership role

Develop leadership abilities to lead financial transformation and guide the future success of your organization.


The Chief Financial Officer Program offers a holistic perspective of the financial complexities and leadership challenges that today’s financial leaders face, while helping participants develop the knowledge and skills to be an effective CFO.

The six–month program journey features three in-person immersion modules, and two multiweek online modules. The curriculum explores the various themes that are quintessential for a successful CFO, through immersive sessions at the university campus, case studies, guest speaker sessions, online modules, and interaction with Columbia Business School's Ivy League faculty.

Theme 1: Value Creation Audit

  • How does the firm make money, margins, and asset turns
  • Information beyond the financial statements: 360-degree feedback on the firm’s value drivers
  • How can we potentially change costs, implement operational improvements, and make business model refinements
  • Valuation of the firm
  • Designing the corporate portfolio for optimal value creation

Theme 2: CFO as a Strategic Partner

  • Strategy audit: identifying drivers of differentiation and costs; analyzing the value proposition of business models, and the desired capabilities and activities
  • Strategic choices and their value implications; linking them to financial metrics
  • Making strategic decision for growth and margins
  • Balancing discipline in finance with investing in innovation
  • Responding to competition
  • Controller role play

Theme 3: Capital Markets

  • How do capital markets view the firm
  • Managing investors and quarterly earnings calls
  • Raising capital
  • Pay-out policy and signaling
  • Credit ratings and implications for capital structure
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Capital allocation and capital structure
  • Capital expenditure: how to split between pay-outs/acquisitions; dividends, stock buybacks
  • The M&A process: strategy, valuation, and execution

Theme 4: Monitoring Performance

  • What are the KPIs and dashboards to monitor?
  • Data–driven decision making and decision making under uncertainty
  • Risk management (credit, currency, etc.)
  • Compensation policies
  • Accounting systems and legacy systems

Theme 5: CFO as a Leader

  • Managing and motivating teams of people
  • Engaging the board
  • Communicating effectively with the board, investors, different functions, and business units
  • Learning to work with various leadership styles and capabilities
  • Crisis management
  • Activist investors

Theme 6: Tomorrow’s CFO

  • Global economic environment
  • Move to capital markets
  • Real options; valuation of international projects
  • FinTech and the finance function
  • Sustainable investing (Environment, Social, and Governance [ESG] framework and implications)
  • Disruptive technology (artificial intelligence, robotics)
  • Blockchain and cyber risk


Oded Netzer

Biography Professor Netzer's research centers on one of the major business challenges of the data-rich environment of the 21st century: developing quantitative methods that leverage data to gain a deeper understanding of customer behavior and guide firms' decisions. He focuses primarily on buildi...

Sheena Iyengar

Professor Iyengar has taught courses in leadership and entrepreneurial creativity. Her research addresses the implications of offering people, whether they be employees or consumers, choices. She has examined choice in a multitude of contexts ranging from employee motivation and performance in a ...

Wei Jiang

Biography Wei Jiang is Arthur F. Burns Professor of Free and Competitive Enterprise in the Finance and Economics Division, and the Vice Dean (for Curriculum and Instruction) at Columbia Business School.  She is also a Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia Law School, a Senior Fellow at the Program on ...

Amit Khandelwal

Biography Professor Khandelwal teaches an elective course on International Business. His research research interests examine issues in international and development economics, including the strategic response of firms to trade liberalizations and increased international competition. TeachingSprin...

Stephan Meier

Biography Stephan Meier is a Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Zurich, was previously a senior economist at the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision-Making at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and taught courses on strat...

Ciamac Moallemi

Biography Ciamac C. Moallemi is an Associate Professor in the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division of the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, where he has been since 2007. He received S.B. degrees in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and in Mathematics from the Mass...

Shivaram Rajgopal

Shiva Rajgopal is the Kester and Byrnes Professor of Accounting and Auditing at Columbia Business School. He has also been a faculty member at the Duke University, Emory University and the University of Washington. Professor Rajgopal’s research interests span financial reporting, earnings quality...

Alfred Drewes

Al Drewes ’82 brings over 35 years of executive experience with both global public and private equity portfolio companies in the consumer products space. Most recently he was the Chief Operating Officer of the Sun Products Corporation. Sun was a portfolio company owned by the private equity spo...

Jesse Greene

Jesse J. Greene, Jr. retired from IBM as VP Financial Management and Chief Financial Risk Officer in 2010. There he was responsible for the identification, assessment and monitoring of financial risks of the corporation, and the company's Enterprise Risk Management program. Mr. Greene began his c...

Katherine Hensel

Katherine Hensel is a retired hedge fund manager, institutional investor, and financial services industry executive. As a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, she gained international prominence as the youngest ever functional Chief Investment Officer of a major Wall Street firm. After helming L...

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Chief Financial Officer Program at Columbia Business School

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

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