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From accountant to CFO and beyond: Practical advice on climbing the career ladder

5th Jun 2019
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How does career progression happen? In the first episode of a three-part podcast series, an experienced panel of financial professionals look back at their own career paths and what they’ve learned along the way.

There’ve been enough frustrated ambitions and plateaued careers in accountancy to prove that progression doesn’t just happen naturally. More than ever before, the leaps from FC to FD to CFO (and perhaps even CEO) are a feat of social engineering.

In the first episode of our special three-part podcast series with SAP Concur, we analysed career progression in the finance function and tried to place a finger on how to plot a trajectory upward.

The podcast was lucky to welcome three high-profile guests, alongside AccountingWEB’s business editor Francois Badenhorst:

  • Neena Vivash has held finance roles at South East Water and Christian Dior, and eventually climbed the ladder to CEO. She now works as an executive coach, with a specific focus on helping CFOs become business leaders.

  • Angus Milledge is a former FD who crossed the floor to commercial, and is currently a sales director at SAP Concur.

  • Andrew Bullock is a finance director at SAP Concur. He has two decades of experience in the finance function and has worked in his current role for six years.

In the pod, the guests discussed their own career trajectories, how demands change, what they’ve learned in the process and what they wish they knew while making the long march up the job ladder.

“We’re brought up to have lots of structures,” Neena Vivash reflected in the discussion. “We’re very left-brain thinkers, but if you want to move into the commercial side of things you need those right-brain skills. Get in touch with your creative side, you do have it and you’re creative outside the workplace.”

And while adding those skills to your mix, take heart that finance professionals have other qualities that lends itself to effective leadership. Namely, an intense familiarity with the financial core of the business.

When Angus Milledge made the jump to commercial operations, he noted that he “had a much better understanding of what my key sales metrics and KPIs entailed when looking at profit margins and costs within my region compared to other sales leaders in the organisation.”

Career progression is probably more competitive than ever, according to Andrew Bullock, but there’s never been a better time to do it. “Advances in IT means that we don’t have to do the transactional analysis we used to do, we can be more proactive,” he said.

That’s just a snippet from the podcast. Hit the play button below to hear the entire conversation or download it via Apple Podcasts, SpotifyAcast or Soundcloud!

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