What You Need To Focus On If Looking To Change Sector At A Senior Level in Finance

I had an enquiry come in from someone looking to move into an FD role in the NHS.

Their past experience was in another sector.

Working with clients over the last 15 years, one thing I’ve learned is this.

Changing sectors can be really challenging at any level.

You might be wondering why.

It’s actually pretty simple.

Those making the hiring decisions tend to think in a certain way.

Part of their thinking is that their sector is so very different to others.

Now don’t get me wrong, each sector does have differences.

But those differences from an accounting perspective are not as great as many might believe.

Those looking to change sectors at a senior level in Finance may well face an even bigger challenge.

The reason is that at a really senior level, it’s less about being technically brilliant.

Those hiring take that for granted.

It’s much broader than that.

So what do you need to focus on if looking to change sector at a senior level in Finance?

Sector knowledge

By that I mean showing that you really understand the sector in some depth.

The challenges, the opportunities, the culture, where the sector is heading.

There has to be depth of knowledge, not just surface level.

Track record

Achievements and contributions are important at any level.

At a senior level they are absolutely vital.

The more that you can show past experience of dealing with and overcoming some of the challenges the sector you are working in, the better chance you will have.

Business skills

Breadth and depth of skills is vital.

Broader business skills are important because you will be expected to contribute way beyond just the financial agenda.

People skills

Being able to work with people at all levels matters.

Being able to positively influence upwards, downwards and across with your peers is vital.

Leadership skills

Leaders are expected to contribute to long term success.

As a leader in finance you will need to show how you have and how you will contribute to long term success.

In truth securing a senior level role in Finance is challenging.  Adding in a change of sector adds another level of challenge.

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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