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Have you set your personal and professional development goals for 2018 yet?

Friday 26 January 2018

Kevin Appleby

By Kevin Appleby
IASeminars Instructor

Over the past two or three years so much has changed in the accounting profession. For many of us it’s taken all our efforts just to keep up to date and to work out what all the changes mean to our businesses. IFRS has driven much of this, but as well there have been legal and tax changes. The world of financial systems is moving at a pace too. New cloud accounting software, innovative automations and sophisticated integrations are everywhere. Often, precious training and development time can be spent just keeping pace with these changes. But is that right?

Just for a moment, stop, and ask yourself some important questions:

“Where do I want to be in 3 – 5 years’ time?”

“Do I have a vision for my career?”

“Is my career going where I need it to?”

I’ve got a favorite exercise which I ask people to try... Take some time now to pick up pen and paper and have a go: Imagine in 5 years’ time, you are in an airport departure lounge about to fly somewhere special. You meet an old friend who you haven’t seen in a long time. You tell them about how wonderful everything is in your life. Now hold on to those thoughts, and take a piece of paper, divide it into 4, and put a heading in each box:

  • Family
  • Professional
  • Finances
  • Health

List under each of those 4 headings exactly what is happening to make it so great. Suddenly you have a vision, a vision that might be very different from the place you are now!

Now ask yourself the question of how you might get there. What needs to happen first, right now?  Ask, “what are your objectives for 2018?” You need to think beyond that regular discussion with your line manager. Challenge yourself to think bigger.

Training will be one aspect of your journey. You might be doing the right technical training to keep you up to date, but are you developing the skills that get you to your 5-year vision? Training driven by new professional updates, rather than learning to solve business problems or to drive personal career progression, though important is not in itself going to make that vision become reality.

Learning about accounting standards, legal changes, and tax changes is vital, but updates alone will not get you to your ultimate destination. Sometimes accountants can feel trapped in the back office, crunching the numbers and producing the reports. The challenge is how to elevate yourself to a different level. Perhaps your dream is to be an integral part of the key business team, helping and advising on strategic business decisions. How do you do that?

If you want to escape that back office you need to develop new skills - skills that will help you become a trusted business advisor. To achieve this, you will need both soft skills and hard technical skills – not usually the ones you learned to pass your professional accountancy exams. 

One solution for growth and development, is to immerse yourself in learning for a week, spending time out of the office dedicated to exploring and studying new skills. Our flagship management accounting course “Empowering the management accountant to be a trusted business advisor” provides a great opportunity to do just that.

The course concentrates on 3 key areas:

Soft Skills – working with the business team, how to create great working relationships, the role of finance in managing the business, and helping the team develop business strategy,

Business Planning – takes us deeper into business planning, and we think about performance management. Setting and cascading business objectives through the business, setting up meaningful forward-looking reporting systems with KPIs meant for the management team and not the external investor

Product and Profitability – we turn our attention to product and customer profitability, and to cost management, looking at some practical skills you can take back to the workplace that can help transform a business.

We supplement this 3-day course with an optional 2-day practical workshop, “A Practical Approach to Activity Based Costing”. The Workshop demonstrates how to use activity based costing to explore the profitability question further. You will leave with the core skills to understand what really drives both cost and profitability in your business.

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