Our mission is to guide finance professionals through a career-shaping process that measures their progress toward their long-term goal of becoming an executive. The McCracken Institute has partnered with the McCracken Alliance, which has been instrumental in the design, build and operation of leadership networks and financial leadership programs in the US. The Alliance has worked with leading universities and highly notable companies in industry to develop a foundation for leveraging knowledge for the betterment of both the university, companies and finance professionals in business. This has led them to understand intimately the highly important missing piece in the career advancement of finance professionals.


Historical approaches to career progression of finance executives in business are typically structured around the needs of a particular business and are naturally influenced by the demands of that particular business. After all, this approach is consistent with the employment model in business, which allocates resources to the tasks and demands that a business encounters. In larger businesses, the progression process may entail a more formal training and experiential regimen, and the requirements of the position align to the practical demands of the business. This naturally tends to lead to specialization in overseeing tasks and responsibilities to create the most efficient and effective productivity.

At the same time, business demands are only a part of a professional’s life, and other desires and demands outside of work require time and commitment as well. The result of achieving a balanced life style naturally creates constraints on availability for someone to seek broader training and experiences beyond their current assigned role. In the long run, this can have a tendency to limit key aspects of growth if left unguarded. Although the variety of experience within a given department or role is engaging, if one limits themselves to predominantly the same routine, they will find shortfalls if they desire to expand their horizon into broader finance roles.

Career guidance for finance professionals desiring higher level roles requires planning and ongoing attention. By capturing the primary requirements of higher level finance roles and incorporating them into a guidance system, professionals can development their own unique personal growth plan for their leadership development over their career. The MI Guidance System incorporates the functional foundations of the Office of the CFO with both the leadership and experience requirements of the Office to provide guidance for the pursuit of higher level roles in finance.

In addition to the career plan, the Institute provides an ongoing support system and certificate program through the McCracken Institute Registry. The Registry records the progress professionals make against their plan by reporting the completion of education, certifications, training, advanced projects, promotions, added position responsibilities and awards. These career achievements are measured against the Institute’s criteria of functional, leadership and experience requirements to earn Guidance System Credits. When sufficient Credits are earned at any given career level, the Institute issues Certificates of Completion, promotions in rank, special awards and designations to honor the successes achieved.


The curriculum begins with deciding which Career Track a member wishes to pursue (private, public, etc.) at this stage of their career. This track selection is anticipated to be temporary in many instances and will change over time as the employer grows, changes capital structure or if a professional moves to another operation.


The curriculum measurements take into consideration functional knowledge and education, experience, and leadership coupled with the hierarchy of programs and projects that require more complexity and more specialized knowledge. In addition, the MI Guidance System recognized the differences between company size and complexity and the impact these have on the requirements of the Office of the CFO.


The 10 Pillars of Finance provide the foundational areas of knowledge that must be possessed in leading the office of the CFO. Positioning for higher level finance roles can best be achieved by having a broader understanding of as many of these Pillars as possible at any given stage of your career. Also, knowing how these skill sets integrate into the accomplishment of a company’s finance objectives is very important and that their emphasis changes depending upon the type of organization.


Following are charts which depict how the emphasis and time commitment of the various skill sets change in the office of the CFO as a company grows and becomes more complex. The CFO role and emphasis also necessarily changes as their departments adds higher level resources to each of the functional areas of responsibility of the office:


In addition to functional and experiential achievements, demonstration of leadership achievements is key to progression within the Institute. Following are the leadership levels which have been built into the measurement system at the Institute:


Certificates of Completion can be earned at any given career level based upon the size, complexity and type of entity where the professional is engaged.


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