by Perry Carbonell
14 September 2012
Read part 2: How to transform yourself into your own ideal model.
This article first appeared in eFinancialCareers.
Can we prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s changes today? Is there a way we can future-proof our finance careers? Yes, I believe there is a way.
Some background: Following the money
Firstly, a refresher on business 101: “Businesses invest to either respond to changes in their environment or to make a return.” Companies invest to stay compliant in a regulated world and they invest to stay competitive.In business, investments are expressed and realised through projects that may either be in the planning, development or rolled-out stages:
1. Planning stage: A leading indicator
- The business and project manager are involved during project initiation and funding.
2. Development stage: A current indicator
- The business, project manager and business analyst are involved during the project kick-off and gathering of requirements.
- A developer is added to the mix during design and development.
- A tester comes along during testing.
- A change manager slides in during implementation.
3. Roll-out stage: An indicator of completeness
- The business, project manager, change manager and staff transition the project to business-as-usual. The project is then closed and the benefits are tracked.
It is worthwhile noting two important points: Firstly, different resources are required at each stage; and secondly, projects have a beginning and an end – the business may choose to run the new process indefinitely. Put simply, projects are transient in nature.
How to future-proof your career
Watch for changes
When a company announces its financial results, the material usually carries information about projects that it has recently completed, some that are underway and others that are being planned. These are detailed in the achievements and strategy sections of the announcement. Information regarding planned activities is readily available on a company’s site. If you want to jump on a project or join business-as-usual then pay attention.
Watch for trends
Follow regulators, industry bodies and the like; they are leading indicators of changing policies and standards. For example, in Australia, ASIC publishes updates on the Future of Financial Advice reforms that are currently causing the wealth management industry to buzz with projects. Activity at peer companies may also indicate change; if your target company is not undertaking the project now, then it may do later to compete.
Capitalise on the information
Assuming that you are interested in one of these forthcoming changes, you would want to capitalise by reskilling and acquiring experience. Education will help, as will formal training through a secondment or a job share.
How to implement
Set up alerts
The Bank of International Settlements, for example, has a good alert service for Basel III updates. Failing that, a weekly glance of the news via a company’s online media centre will suffice.
I know of, and have heard of, people who have started their project careers by helping initiate a project, providing requirements, testing the system and process, or assisting with the roll-out phase. Any direct involvement is a win-win situation for your career.
How to sell yourself
Selling does not come naturally for most but these points should help:
Polish your CV
Assuming that you have capitalised on the information and that you were involved in some way, you need to articulate this clearly in your CV. If ever in doubt, seek expert advice.
Refine your online profile
Provide some brief information about yourself online via LinkedIn. Growing your list of connections will help to create opportunities.
Nothing beats face-to-face contact. But if you are unable to do this, then building your network through online groups, seeking introductions, joining your alumni, or connecting with past acquaintances can be useful.
Seek expert advice
There is always someone out there that has gone through the same experience (eg a mentor), or is paid to do this for a living (eg a consultant).
One final point
We should all be reminded that change is permanent. Our biggest challenge as individuals is to condition ourselves to embrace change. As John Keynes once said: “When the facts change, I change my mind.” We to change ours well in advance.
Perry Carbonell is a senior business analyst and writer at Thoughts by PC. The views expressed are his own and not those of eFinancialCareers.