ICAEW Leadership Program Turns Technical Specialists into Finance Leaders

May 30, 2014 |

The Financial Talent Executive Network (F-TEN®) business leadership program from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), which is offered in London and Singapore, strives to turn technical specialists into finance leaders who are able to maximize their boardroom impact.

The program is open to finance professionals of all disciplines and offers delegates who are nominated by their CFOs the opportunity to create a strong peer network and external reference point, the chance to get clarity on their development through the one-to-one mentoring, and the time to tackle leadership challenges through the peer learning and workshop components.

Participants cite three primary benefits from the program: increased confidence, clarity of thought, and stronger relationships at the board level. The ICAEW spoke to mentee Brad Petzer, recently appointed finance director of Monetize.com, and his F-TEN® mentor, Ben Stevens, finance director at FTSE 100 group British American Tobacco plc (BAT), to get their perspectives on the program.

An interview with Brad Petzer

Why did you decide to take part in F-TEN®?
First, as an ACA, I have a duty to continue my professional education. The network effect is very powerful. Meeting people who have made that transition from the senior finance position to the top role gives you lots of different perspectives. F-TEN® is run by ICAEW so you know you are working with the top accounting professional body.

And mentoring?
BP: This part of the program particularly interested me. By the time you get to CFO level you will have done many weird and wonderful things—leadership programs, coaching programs, personality tests. Having access to top quality mentors working at board level in multinational businesses is something quite unique.

How has F-TEN® mentorship been so far?
BP: Ben is very down to earth, despite the fact he is running a massive organization. Some candidates on the program plan out what they will discuss over the year. Ben and I prefer to keep it more informal and discuss the issues I am experiencing. He has also offered me access to his business, which is something money cannot buy. We have discussed a lot of high-level strategic board-level issues, not day-to-day accounting.

An interview with Ben Stevens

Why did you agree to be an F-TEN® mentor?
Once you have got to the stage I have in my career it is good to give something back. For me it is also an opportunity to meet bright people with ambition and drive working in a very different environment to BAT.

How much time does it take up?
My commitment to Brad through the F-TEN® program is 12 hours of mentoring over a year. Brad and I have agreed to meet five or six times a year for dinner so the mentoring takes place in a relaxed manner. I am also available for ad hoc calls whenever Brad feels my input might be useful.

How have you found the experience to date?
BAT is a mighty ship which sales through storms, so for me it has been very interesting getting the perspective from a young fast-growing company, and learning about the challenges Brad faces.

What difference does mentoring make to new CFO’s?
If I had been in Brad’s position years ago, when I started as a [finance director], it would have been invaluable to have a completely independent experienced person to sound off with, not just on technical issues but on how my career was going and the managerial impact I was having.

The ICAEW F-TEN® program is open to ICAEW members and non-members and runs once a year from both London and Singapore, starting in April and September respectively. There are a maximum of 30 places available.

For more information about the next London program in April 2015, email lydia.harrison@icaew.com or call +4420 7920 8409.

For more information about the program in Singapore in September 2014, email april.chiew@icaew.com or call +60123345646.

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