54 min

821: When Leaders Want More | Michael Sumruld, CFO, Parker Wellbore CFO THOUGHT LEADER

    • Business

Michael Sumruld recalls that after investing 10 of his finance career–building years in oil field services giant Baker Hughes, he found a deep fog settling on the career path before him. Unlike the case with BH engineers—who could always be confident of being able to place a foot on the next rung of an ever-present career ladder—the climb upward for finance executives was becoming less and less visible.
Or at least such was the case for any of BH’s finance rank-and-file who aspired to advance beyond the ranks of middle management.
Rather than land a more senior finance position at another company, Sumruld set out to leverage some of what his 10-year BH investment had afforded him.  
“In a decade’s time, I had developed relationships with different senior leaders, so I spent time with them and interviewed them to try to get a sense of what it would take to become CFO of Baker Hughes,” comments Sumruld, who adds that a research document highlighting his discussions with senior leaders later would later land on the desk of BH’s vice president of human resources.
Part of what the document highlighted was the different experiences and knowledge sets that finance executives can gain when they are rotated into different positions.
Says Sumruld: “We were able to put this in play—not formally, but informally—with a number of executives who were in my situation and had also become siloed as they had gone down a particular career path.”
Along the way, Sumruld remembers, a number of his finance peers became mystified by career jumps that didn’t always align with their rank or tenure within the organization.
“They’d say, ‘Mike, why are you exiting a finance VP role to become a director of IR?,’” recalls Sumuld, who notes that he views the director of IR role as a worthy prerequisite for any future CFO.
Ultimately, Sumruld’s career with BH would end up spanning two decades, with his last 3 years spent as company treasurer—a position that the CFO granted after Sumruld expressed great interest in the role.  
“He gave me a shot,” remarks Sumruld, who observes that the CFO was confident that if needed, his team had the bandwidth to support BH’s newbie treasurer.   
“It’s uncomfortable to take on new roles,” reports Sumruld. “It’s not easy, but I think that this is what we need to do if we want to become leaders.” –Jack Sweeney

Michael Sumruld recalls that after investing 10 of his finance career–building years in oil field services giant Baker Hughes, he found a deep fog settling on the career path before him. Unlike the case with BH engineers—who could always be confident of being able to place a foot on the next rung of an ever-present career ladder—the climb upward for finance executives was becoming less and less visible.
Or at least such was the case for any of BH’s finance rank-and-file who aspired to advance beyond the ranks of middle management.
Rather than land a more senior finance position at another company, Sumruld set out to leverage some of what his 10-year BH investment had afforded him.  
“In a decade’s time, I had developed relationships with different senior leaders, so I spent time with them and interviewed them to try to get a sense of what it would take to become CFO of Baker Hughes,” comments Sumruld, who adds that a research document highlighting his discussions with senior leaders later would later land on the desk of BH’s vice president of human resources.
Part of what the document highlighted was the different experiences and knowledge sets that finance executives can gain when they are rotated into different positions.
Says Sumruld: “We were able to put this in play—not formally, but informally—with a number of executives who were in my situation and had also become siloed as they had gone down a particular career path.”
Along the way, Sumruld remembers, a number of his finance peers became mystified by career jumps that didn’t always align with their rank or tenure within the organization.
“They’d say, ‘Mike, why are you exiting a finance VP role to become a director of IR?,’” recalls Sumuld, who notes that he views the director of IR role as a worthy prerequisite for any future CFO.
Ultimately, Sumruld’s career with BH would end up spanning two decades, with his last 3 years spent as company treasurer—a position that the CFO granted after Sumruld expressed great interest in the role.  
“He gave me a shot,” remarks Sumruld, who observes that the CFO was confident that if needed, his team had the bandwidth to support BH’s newbie treasurer.   
“It’s uncomfortable to take on new roles,” reports Sumruld. “It’s not easy, but I think that this is what we need to do if we want to become leaders.” –Jack Sweeney

54 min

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