lefttrim toptrim tubetrim

Different jobs and companies call on different skills. A typical job in corporate finance at a typical company would be likely to require the following skills:

People skills
Sales skills
Communication skills
Computer Skills
Analytical skills
Ability to synthesize
Creative ability
Work hours


Low to Medium
Extremely High
Medium toHigh

  Leader or Follower?

The number one attribute most corporate employers are looking for is initiative. If you can give examples in interviews of situations where you did something useful even though no one asked you to, you will be a hot commodity. Have you ever started a business? Or put together a fundraiser or charitable event? Or started a new organization?

           Are You a Forrest Gump Type?

            Many of us imagine working in a corporation as a boring, routine
            experience designed for dim-witted, persnickety pencil-pushers in
            short-sleeved pastel plaid shirts. Not so. Rather, you need to be
            comfortable with ambiguity and rapidly changing environment where
            tasks change from day to day, maybe hour to hour.

            Puzzle-lovers Wanted

     Most corporate finance jobs involve solving problems using a
combination of intuition and analytics. If you are proficient in
problem-solving, this may well be the job area for you.

    Why Do Nice People Get the Good Jobs?

     The movies portray "killer" operators in corporate environments,
       getting ahead by manipulation and chicanery. This isn't exactly how it
    works. People who like people, can communicate their ideas, build
    deep networks and are passionate about their work get ahead.

Are You An Impatient, Entrepreneurial Type?

    One of the most common complaints among new entrants in corporate finance jobs is that they are surprised by the low level of the work. "I didn't go to school to do this..." is a common refrain. Keep in mind that corporate environments reward longevity and loyalty. Be patient, learn from mentors and invest in yourself along the way. Bide your time as it will pay off in the long run. If you complain early on you may never get the break you want that comes from doing a minor task particularly well.


Merritt Richardson


Habla Espanol?

Large firms are more globalized than ever and jobs will often take you across borders. You wlil obviously be more desirable to a company if you are bi-lingual and know some international corporate finance. Would you be comfortable managing a bank relationship in Argentina? Or costing new plants in China?

  Risky Business

      The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the sophistication
of corporate risk management strategies. How are we going to hedge
   against fluctuations in the cost of our inputs? And what should we do to protect against foreign currency fluctuations? If you are familiar with
 models, techniques and derivatives which can be used to manage
       risk, you will be in high demand.

Did You Ever Play With an Erector Set?

       Manufacturing firms often hire corporate finance types with a
    background in engineering. Ford, for example, wants people in the
     factory who can understand complex manufacturing processes,
        communicate well with engineers and enjoy complex costing work.
    Jerome York, the former Chrysler CFO, did a stint running Dodge, and once worked designing engine parts for GM.

  How Are You With People?

   The best financial professionals are good with people. According to
   Fortune, (11/18/95): "Their biggest weakness is a lack of people
    skills," says John Dasburg, CEO of Northwest Airlines. "Finance types are often curt and colorless. By contrast, the best CFOs are master persuaders with a streak of the sales person. They read people as surely as balance sheets."

Geek of the Week? Not Really, But..

Lets not avoid the obvious. You have to be computer literate with spreadsheets, word processors, presentation packages and mainframes in corporate finance. This is especially true for entry level positions where you will need to crunch numbers as you get involved in  the details of corporate financial planning, accounting and capital-raising. Execs love to talk about strategy, quality and vision. Funny, but when they interview you expect to be asked "Have you ever written a macro in Excel?" or "Have you used a Telerate or Bloomberg station before?"