How to make the leap from CFO to CEO

For healthcare CFOs interested in taking on the CEO role, the key is strategic thinking.

Karan Rai, president of ADS Tactical, a logistics provider and a specialty distributor to the Department of Defense, was promoted from CFO to become the company's president in March. Although his transition took place outside of the healthcare industry, healthcare finance executives can apply the advice Mr. Rai recently shared with the The Wall Street Journal on the shift from CFO to CEO.

Mr. Rai offered his thoughts on how finance executives can develop a strategic mindset and the forward-thinking mentality it requires.

"I always took the initiative to engage with my clients on a pretty strategic level," Mr. Rai told the Wall Street Journal. "It's not just to say hey, we're doing this deal, but what are you trying to get done in the next five years?"

There is great opportunity for hospital and health system CFOs to successfully transition into more strategic roles, but it's not always an easy change. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care CFO Daniel Morissette shared his thoughts on this topic with Becker's earlier this year.

"The biggest challenge for hospital and health system CFOs in transitioning to a more strategic role is that many CFOs are not accustomed to regularly viewing the health system from a customer perspective. By customer I am referring to patients, physicians, the community, the CEO and other constituents who often require some flexibility and a creative approach to problem solving," said Mr. Morissette.

A customer-focused perspective is vital to a successful strategy, and it requires CFOs taking the time to engage in the health system's issues, according to Mr. Morissette. However, he said many CFOs "do not take the time or effort to be a significant strategic business partner, and as a result are not called upon for broader strategic roles."

More articles on healthcare finance:

CMS proposes changes to Physician Fee Schedule: 15 things to know
45 states earn 'F' grades for healthcare price transparency
Why CFO roles are being filled by Gen Xers

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