Carol Cheung is associate director, financial services at Robert Walters Hong Kong.
How best to plot your path to a management position
I have been working as an auditor for a large international firm for more than a decade, and I feel I would like to move into the management side of things. I am more than likely going to enrol in an MBA programme but I am open to additional suggestions too.
What other options for further training might I have? And need I confine myself to management in the accountancy field or could I move into another sector?
For professionals looking to move into senior management roles, an MBA is becoming an increasingly popular strategy to gain an edge over their peers.
I think an MBA could be an option for you but don’t expect it to guarantee you a management role right after completing it. The first thing to consider is that an MBA isn’t a quick win; it’s a very time-intensive and costly qualification. Hence you need to consider the cost and time (which is opportunity cost) of taking an MBA or any other training.
If further education is something you really wish to pursue, you can consider taking a chartered financial analyst (CFA) qualification, which may broaden your scope to positions which require financial quantitative knowledge.
If you would like to get promoted to a management role in the near future, I would suggest staying in accountancy instead of switching paths now, as you have accumulated 10 years’ experience. Once you have gained some management or in-house experience in the accountancy field, you could consider trying out another sector, but until then I would suggest you to stay in the same field.
I would also suggest spending your time on sharpening your management skills to get yourself prepared. A management role not only requires you to have sharp business acumen and interpersonal skills, it also stretches your problem solving and analytical capabilities.
One way is to discuss with your line manager, ask for milestones so that once you have achieved them, you are able to point out that you have successfully accomplished what has been tasked to you in order to achieve that promotion. You should also work on your softer skills by interacting, grooming, training your colleagues and new recruits as this will help hone your management skills and display your ability to take the next step.
Your working experience, including your skills and insights in the industry, is ultimately what employers value. In summary, I would suggest you to stay on your current path, look out for suitable training courses that could upskill yourself, and consider any in-house opportunities that you could leverage your experience in to start your management path.
Set your career on the right path and ensure that it continues to grow. The secret to scaling that corporate ladder is to move up one rung at a time so that you can manage each step effectively.