Scratching the surface of the coming year's economic picture generally reveals a foggy scene: Expect slow growth in an uncertain environment where confidence could be just trickling in. The best resolution for senior finance executives for 2011, as gleaned from the annual MIT Sloan CFO Summit: Be prepared for events beyond your control and be ready for your company to grow. Here are a few other nuggets from the keynote CFO panel at the event in Newton, Mass., which drew a record 650 attendees late last fall.
- Caterpillar CFO and Group President Edward Rapp: "We think the road to progress begins with a road, period. You cannot have growth without infrastructure."
- Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis: "You can't control Irish banks."
- CVS Caremark CFO and EVP David Denton: "Volatility is normal."
- Qwest Communications CFO and EVP Joseph Euteneuer: "Execution cures all ills. Stay on track."
Other advice: Be sharper with resource allocation and understand which markets will drive your future growth. Expect a wave of global M&A and growth that comes from parts of the world other than the U.S., such as Brazil and China. Already working by such axioms are the three CFOs to Watch profiled in this issue: MetLife's Bill Wheeler, Eastman Chemical's Curt Espeland and Freeport-McMoRan's Kathleen Quirk. Watch T&RExpress for a new feature, CFO Checkpoints, that will provide updates on CFOs previously covered in Treasury & Risk.