UVA Darden Strategic CFO Roundtable Examines Why Corporate Culture and Strategy Must Align

By Laura Hennessey Martens

CFOs from leading companies in the Washington, D.C., region discussed the importance of aligning corporate culture and strategy during a recent Strategic CFO Roundtable, a select peer-to-peer forum hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society.

Convened on 8 September at CEB headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the member CFOs were joined by Dean Scott Beardsley as they provided their global and U.S. economic outlooks vis-à-vis their own corporate opportunities. Sparked by the classic quote attributed to business management guru Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” the CFOs also undertook a lively discussion about prioritizing corporate strategy in accordance with company culture as the session’s top-of-mind topic.

“Once you’re in a given business, then does culture matter in terms of your ability to generate performance?” one CFO member asked. “I think it does.”

“Strategy needs to be developed in light of the culture,” added another member.

Through the course of the discussion, insights based on the members’ own experiences emerged about how a strong and cohesive company culture can drive — and even bolster — strategy.

“When more people feel like they have involvement in where the company’s going, strategy evolves quicker and is more dynamic than when you just have the senior people sitting in their offices doing their 3-year planning or 5-year planning on a rolling basis,” another member said.

As the conversation came to a close, the members began to explore the strategic CFO’s role in aligning strategy and culture within their own finance departments and throughout the corporation as a whole. The subject will be the top-of-mind topic when the roundtable reconvenes in January 2017.

Additional insights from this roundtable session are available in the report, “Views from the C-Suite.”

Roundtable members are invited CFOs of publicly traded and private companies from the Washington, D.C., area, representing the region’s leading industries such as aerospace and defense, financial services, media, professional services, retail, and technology.

Darden Professor Kenneth Eades and Jane-Scott Cantus, principal member of ILEX Leadership Associates LLC, founded the Strategic CFO Roundtable in 2008. In 2013, the Strategic CFO Roundtable was adopted as a key initiative of the Darden School’s Institute for Business in Society.

North America, C-Suite
About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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