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7 famous CFOs that became CEOs

1. Ian Dyson

Apart from being group FD of Rank Group, Dyson is best-known for being CFO of Marks & Spencer, where he stayed for five years.

Although he was flagged as a contender for the M&S top role, it was handed over to former Morrisons exec Marc Bolland.

Instead of waiting around for the next potential opportunity to arise, Dyson left the company a mere two days after Bolland was made chief executive. However, he didn’t land himself another job in the finance department. In fact, he went on to become CEO of Punch Taverns, the UK’s largest pub operator. Taking, along with this new title, a 3bn pile of debt.

2. Indra Nooyi

Unlike Dyson, Nooyi stuck with the company until she was given the position. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and worked her way to CFO, a position given to her in 2001.

In her command, Nooyi restructured the company and led multiple acquisitions, including Tropicana in 1994, Gatorade, and a merger with Quaker Oats Company.

It was in 2006 that she became the fifth CEO in PepsiCo history.

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3. Ian Livingston

Livingston started off his career as an accountant at Arthur Anderson, later rising up the management ranks at the Bank of America and private equity firm 3i.

In 1991, he joined Dixons, only to make history in 1997 as the youngest FTSE FD. There, he helped launch Dixon’s PC World and Freeserve.

It was only in 2002 that Livingston joined BT as group FD, where he was left to tackle debts over 20bn. And by 2005, he had become CEO.

4. Paul Pindar

Pindar has many things in common with Livingston, one of them being that he also became an accountant and worked at 3i.

While working at the private equity firm, he advised Capita on a 330,000 management buyout. Subsequently, he joined the company a short while later as one of 34 employees.

In 1991 he became Managing Director, followed by the CEO role eight years later. He’s now seen as the third-longest serving FTSE 100 CEO.

5. Peter Voser

The Swiss national had worked for Shell since 1982, only interrupted by a stint at Asea Brown Boveri from 2002 to 2004.

He returned to Shell as chief financial officer, while the company was recovering from the scandal of its reserves downgrades and worked alongside Jeroen van der Veer, his predecessor as CEO, to rebuild the company.

After almost ten years as CEO and CFO and more than 25 years in Shell, he left the company after only four years in the boss’s seat.

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6. John Rishton

Rishton qualified as an accountant while working for Ford Motor Company. He later became finance director of the company’s Portuguese and Spanish operations.

He worked there for 15 years before joining British Airways in 1994, where he was appointed head of finance in the US division. It was in 2001 that he became the division’s CFO.

He left in 2005 to become finance director at Ahold, and after two years replaced Anders Moberg as head. In 2011 he was appointed CEO of Rolls-Royce.

7. John Dasburg

Dasburg’s first job was at the Marriott Corporation, where he quickly rose to CFO. 

He later became CFO at Northwest Airlines, only to become the company’s CEO in 1990. It was reported that he saved the airline from bankruptcy.

He also served as CEO of Burger King from 2001 to 2003 and of DHL Airways.


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