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Finance transformation roles
Management and career experts often advise finance professional about the importance of career pathways, and the value of creating well planned career development goals.
Having foresight and a clear head for the future can help ensure goals are made and met. Additionally, having a clear understanding of where you want to be and why within a defined timeframe will also create a clear path to the top to become a CFO.
However despite creating the perfect plan, career trajectories can often take off into realms and responsibilities that were not a part of the original script. This can be a blessing in some case, but a cause for disappointment in others.
No two career paths are the same, so ambitious finance professionals have a lot to think about when deciding on what role to take and which organisation. Finance professionals must be mindful to make sure they don’t travel a dead end road on their paths to success.
The pathway to the top can be tricky for those working in finance transformation. Too often, senior positions in finance transformation, shared services or outsourced functions have been seen as a graveyard for ambitions.
While some organisations prize the value that finance transformation brings, others still view shared services and outsourcing “merely as a factory for transactional, rules-based work.”
Keeping an eye on the organisational calendar is a good thing for those in finance transformation roles, in addition to understanding the corporate agenda and the leadership is key.
Organisations can change their plans and focus and, of course, they can also change their approach to business service models, often as a result of a change in top leadership.
Indeed, understanding the organisation’s corporate objectives is a cornerstone of getting on in the workplace and many CFOs are instrumental in defining that strategy and direction, especially when they get a seat in the boardroom.
With continuing challenge from businesses for the finance function to prove its corporate value, today’s finance leaders are tasked with ensuring that it operates in a smarter, essentially more efficient and more effective way. They must run their finance operations as cost effectively as possible, bring high quality stewardship and control to the organisation. They must also generate the critical financial and data insights that help the CEO and other senior executives in the business to make the right commercial decisions in what is an increasingly complex and volatile environment.
In their ambitions to become to become smarter, transformation of the finance function is a key priority for today’s finance executives.
It is apparent there is often a dual career path for finance professionals—a clear path to CFO through the so-called retained organisation with a distinctly different pathway through shared services.
At a time of rapid changes in markets, globalisation, technology, and management, the skills that leaders pick up in finance transformation roles can be transformative for the organisation as a whole. It is ACCA’s belief that the skills and capabilities that shared services and outsourcing leaders bring to the table need to be reassessed and revalue.
There are pros and cons of taking on a finance transformation role; that can be said for many careers and jobs.
Many finance transformation leaders are pioneers, the first occupants of their jobs and are therefore carving a new path that other can follow. But some organisations have been engaged in finance transformation for over 10 years; often seen as a lifetime in corporate history.
What happened to the previous transformation leaders?
If they have moved on into other, perhaps larger or more responsible, corporate roles within the organisation, the shared services job is probably not a career-ender. If the previous incumbents have taken on bigger roles in another company, it is likely that the organisation is seen as a best practice operation and a breeder of good talent. In either case, time in that shared services organisation need not always be a career-limiting move.
Racquel Moses, head of ACCA Caribbean and international projects
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