Gary McGaghey’s Four Ways to Become a Strategist CFO

Making Choices That Inform the Strategy Process

To begin with, Gary McGaghey recommends that CFOs make a series of choices that will direct their strategic direction. He suggests that CFOs consider the following questions to make these decisions.

  • What are the company’s goals and aspirations?
  • What services/products does the company offer?
  • In which markets does the company sell these services/products?
  • How does the company stand out against peers to gain a competitive advantage?
  • What management systems and processes can the company adopt to streamline and succeed?
  • Are the company’s financial goals viable?
  • Which products and markets deliver the highest promise for margin growth or revenue?
  • How can the company organize and structure the financing of key investments to maximize competitive advantage, market valuation, and returns? Ideas could include business models; legal and tax entities; onshore, offshore, and outsourced talent models; automation; networking; and build versus buy.
  • Which financial and management reporting tools can the company adopt to execute and deliver the strategy well?

Becoming an Effective Strategist

To become an effective strategist, a CFO must think innovatively, hire an effective finance team, and opt for a strategy orientation that reflects their company and the level of permission that the CEO grants them. Although some companies recruit CFOs as strategy partners for CEOs, others must earn a seat at the strategy table. Many of these CFOs have been internally promoted from controller, finance-operations, and accounting roles. Typically, these CFOs must know the company and operate a finance organization that delivers finance and accounting processes consistently without errors. When the finance team gets the basics right, the CFO can present a credible finance organization.

Leading the execution of the Strategy

Irrespective of the role the CFO plays in formulating the strategy, the CFO is well positioned to lead the execution of the strategy due to the wide ranging impact of the finance function and the blend of the CFO’s financial & strategic role and capabilities. A CFO can utilize the existing FP&A team or build a program management office to create a dashboard of delivery milestones and financial and non financial KPI’s to track delivery of the strategy. In this way the CFO’s can play a uniquely leading role in both creating and driving delivery of the strategy, utilizing a blend of financial, commercial and program management skills.

About Gary McGaghey

Gary McGaghey has delivered organic and M&A-driven growth for a plethora of private equity, privately owned, and listed companies. In 2019, he joined Williams Lea Tag, a €1.3 billion end-to-end marketing production and business services group, owned by the private equity firm Advent International, as its Group CFO. In this role, he oversees the company’s mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, cost restructuring, carve outs, working capital cash flow management, and balance sheet refinancing.



Has over 15 years of experience in senior management, including as CEO. He first started in South Africa and has since served in multiple international roles.

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Gary McGaghey

Gary McGaghey

Has over 15 years of experience in senior management, including as CEO. He first started in South Africa and has since served in multiple international roles.