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How to keep yourself in demand

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In this fast-paced age of digital disruption, it pays to brush up on your skills as a finance professional in order to remain relevant and stand out from the pack.

Declan O'Sullivan, CEO of recruiting group Kerry Consulting, says these days, employers and recruiters are looking for people with "in demand" experience, such as exposure to "change", "reengineering" and "disruptive" organisations. It doesn't matter where the exposure was accrued, as long as it's transferable.

To stand out, O'Sullivan says you need to become more digitally aware in your own function and in how you can speed data flows and cut costs. "You should also be aware of industry trends and trends in comparable industries. And, you should have an informed opinion."

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While the basics of finance won't change, he says: "It's very important to move from simply being a 'finance' person to being a 'business' person who happens to have a deep knowledge of finance.

"In 2019, being a 'business' person, seeing the organisation holistically, including its threats and opportunities, clearly necessitates having an evolving digital perspective."

Associate Professor Koh SzeKee FCPA (Aust.), Deputy Cluster Director, Design and Specialised Business, at Singapore Institute of Technology, has similar views.

He says finance professionals have traditionally been the custodians of business transactions, processes, financial records and finances. But in the age of digital disruption, business leaders are even more reliant on finance professionals and expect them to provide wider advice. This means they will require new strategic tools, concepts and perspectives that embed new digital possibilities.

"Without further enriching and upskilling one's skillset, maintaining traditional mindset and skillsets will be a disaster for finance professionals in the new digital age," he warns.

Fortunately, there are many learning options and advanced qualifications available to help you lift your game. They range from those offered by professional or peak bodies to post-graduate and master’s degrees, micro credentials and massive open online courses or MOOCs. So, how do you choose on the right one for you?

Prof Koh says it's not the title of the qualification that matters most. Instead, the course should meet your unique needs and plug your gaps. "Choosing a reputable provider and qualification should also be part of the considerations."

It's important to look for a well-designed curriculum which, according to Prof Koh, should be developed in bite sizes and allow you to learn at your own pace.

"The provider should be reputable with experienced trainers with real world experience in the domain of teaching. The provider should also be a leader and strong believer in promoting advanced technological skillsets for professionals," he adds.

Charmaine Ho CPA (Aust.), a senior consultant at Mazars LLP, considered a few factors before she decided on the CPA Program.

Firstly, having graduated from an Australian degree program, there was a familiarity to the pedagogy of the CPA Program," she says.

"Secondly, as a young professional, I felt it was important to differentiate myself from other job seekers. The reviews given on the CPA Program from prolific past candidates showed that members with a CPA designation are well recognised and acknowledged. A well-recognised designation helps to accelerate one’s career progression and open doors to more career opportunities.

"Lastly, with a global recognition for this CPA Program, it expands my career opportunities and has given me more job mobility. Plus, its multiple mutual agreement pathways will help enrich my career journey and experiences."

Ho says the CPA Program encompasses many important concepts and learning that help push students to think out of the box and beyond and to realise the bigger picture, such as business strategies, business theories and management concepts.

"Apart from technical skills, the program ensures students are equipped with other skills such as personal effectiveness, business and leadership skills, and so on which are increasing important to ensure success in the real world," she says.

To find out more about the program, visit www.cpaaustralia.com.au/become-a-cpa