Career Success Is Never About This

I’m fortunate to be able to look back in my time in accountancy and feel proud of what I achieved.

Starting out straight from school with minimum qualifications, I climbed the career ladder to Finance Director, working for two of the Big 4 accounting firms.

Funny thing is if I’m completely honest I was probably the most technically mediocre accountant around. I got professionally qualified but it was a huge struggle. I could do the technical aspects of the job to an adequate standard.

What I realised early on in my career, thanks to a couple of great bosses was that how far I went was not going to be determined by how technically competent I was.

You see people who are technically brilliant are not always so great at focusing on adding value to the business.

They tend to get lost in the technicalities of the work.

By contrast I saw doing things like budgets, forecasts, cash flows and year end as being an entry to doing things that really made a difference to the business. Now don’t get me wrong financial control and governance is vital to any organisation. But it’s a bit like the lights in your office. You tend not to notice them until they are not working.

As more and more organisations move accountants into finance business partnering roles, I really believe that technical brilliance is going to become even less important.

Ultimately in my view it’s going to be about:

1. Being hugely client service focused
2. Helping the organisation to grow and improve
3. Developing and delivering strategy
4. Making the big decisions
5. Working collaboratively with others

So as you think about your professional and personal development and career progression, focus on building the skills to support the 5 areas above and remember that technical skills will only take you so far.

Duncan Brodie helps accountants to build successful careers.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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