You've made the decision to leave the profession and move into industry. Now what?
Now that the time sheets, salary grade and promotion prescriptions of your chartered accounting firm are over, the investment into your career is not. Now is the time to perform to your maximum capacity in your new position and strive to leverage all of the opportunity and freedom that you have been looking for.
In many ways, it is your first role that will start to define future success in this new organisation and open up opportunities to draw you closer to your ultimate career goals.
Maintaining ambition at this point of your career should continue. Yes - it was hard work at your chartered firm, but it is all just starting. This doesn't necessarily mean longer hours, but does mean smarter career management.
It's important to understand that it is rare to achieve all of your ambitions in the first company you join, but building a foundation in this business is the catalyst for creating your personal brand and opening up more opportunities in the future. Many leave the profession to ‘rule the world’, and you will eventually; but start with a measured approach towards building a skills platform that you will need for the future.
No matter what your role is straight from the profession, here are a list of actions to take to start build the best career foundation possible.
Take the role, develop it and demonstrate skills and capability to do the next role that you are looking to reach.
For example - You leave the profession and join a listed group in a Financial Reporting Manager role. Firstly, understand the key deliverables of the role. Outperform around timeliness, accuracy and efficiency around the month, half and full-year, end processes. Find opportunities to simplify and improve the way you achieve these outputs. Do this for twelve months and work hard to build credibility with stakeholders across the business.
Use the next twelve months to your advantage. Turn the role from compliance-focused into advisory and decision support focused by leveraging the knowledge you have gained about the financials and business in the first twelve months.. Helping the add value by providing insights and direction around the numbers, as opposed to simply reporting. This will position you as a valuable asset and begins to demonstrate your leadership qualities.
It is best to take a defined approach to your career. Start thinking of the next role that you need, and build the skill for the next position. People aren’t just lucky; they position themselves for success.
If you aspire to a role in a divisional commercial capacity, then start to work with the stakeholders in this area, in a meaningful way. Spend time with them; seek to understand what their challenges and problems are, and look for ways to proactively add value to their role. Be and act like you are in the role you want, not the one you currently have.
Consider the people you work with and who work for you. Where will they be in five years and how can you help them achieve their goals? What can you do to help them?
You worked hard in the profession, now respect those that are on the same journey. Supporting others will generate good will which is very valuable in your future career.
Encourage others in your alumni. Keep in contact with your ex-peers and team. Help them navigate their careers and with their “first move” if applicable. Act as a supportive mentor to offer advice and help them overcome challenges.
This is a great value trade that I have seen open many career doors. After 16 years in Executive Search, it never ceases to amaze me the number of roles that people secure through their chartered accounting networks by nurturing long term relationships. Inversely, I have seen careers shut down and stagnate because people have failed to respect the value of their alumni.
Let the system that trained you, work for you.
Your role will always give you exposure to different operational projects in your company. Take these challenges on and get involved in new opportunities as much as possible.
Systems projects, operational improvements, transformational programmes and generally demonstrating initiative can all have a long lasting impact and expose you to the key executive decision makers in the company. These projects give you the opportunity to show capability beyond your current role. Just remember, in these types of projects, try and understand the overall strategic direction of the company (appreciate the big picture). This will shape ‘how’ you support decisions and contribute to the project.
If you’re in a chartered accounting firm and your thinking about leaving for a challenge in industry, spend time thinking about these points and planning ahead. It can be the difference between fast-tracking your development or getting stuck.