Are you ready to make a move?

by | Jun 15, 2022

Do you think you might be ready to make a move?

Accountants – have you ever wanted to change direction in your career or step up into an opportunity but not been sure of the next step?This week I was delighted to be invited to speak to Accountants and finance professionals at CPA Australia‘s CPA Week 2022 Conference in Perth on “Navigating your career into leadership”.  What follows is an extract from that speech.

Signs That You’re Ready for a Career Change

Does this sound like you?

  • Mid-career and asking yourself “Is this it?”
  • Really want something else but get caught up by what you and others think you ‘should’ be doing?
  • Thought this was the role you wanted but now you’re here, you’re still not happy?
  • Not feeling content or fulfilled; feeling internally conflicted?
  • Lost your passion and energy for what you used to do, perhaps?
  • Work-life balance continues to elude you?
  • Just keep churning over the same thoughts; don’t know what to do or where to start to begin to change things? Or, afraid to perhaps?

Strategies for Successfully Changing Career Directions

My journey

It wasn’t until I was 51 that I realised that I didn’t want or need to be a CFO anymore.  That in fact I was more of a people person than a numbers person.  To realise I was more than an accountant.  A leader of people.  Those people just happened to be the finance team.  I found the courage to listen to myself, step away from my executive role of 15 years to explore what’s next. I was stupid or brave enough to give away a fabulous job with a fantastic organisation with nothing else lined up.  I needed to do this to create some space and find some energy to invest in what I wanted the next phase of my life to look like.  And I was never going to be able to do so whilst in my CFO role.  That was four and a half years ago now. This has not been an easy journey.  A lot harder than I thought it would be, but I have no regrets.And, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without a strong supportive network around me, including family and coaches.

Major transitions when navigating a career in accounting and finance

Are you asking yourself any of the following questions or contemplating any of these transitions?
  1. Do you stay or do you go? The decision to move out of a financial or professional services firm, or, transition across sectors is a huge move and can present a real dilemma.
  2. Is it worth hanging around within the organisation once you get qualified? Will the experience you get as a Manager ultimately help you to secure a better role elsewhere? If you are in a professional services firm, do you aspire to be a Partner? Are you prepared to do what it takes to become a Partner?
  3. Stepping into the top job. For emerging and new CFOs transitioning to being the Leader of the finance function. What does the CEO and/or Board expect of you? How to shift from being a “spreadsheet jockey” to navigating strategic financial decisions.
  4. Take that first Non-Executive Director role. Now what’s different from performing as a senior finance executive to a non-executive?

Three reflections

Three reflections I would like to share that have helped me to navigate my career options:Reflection 1: In the last few years I have learnt that we have three “brains” – our head, heart and gut. Listen to all of them.
  • As Accountants we are very good with the head side of things – the academics, analysts and overthinkers in us.
  • We tend to ignore what our heart and gut is telling us with our emotions and intuition.
  • What I have learnt is that if the three brains aren’t aligned, it’s not a comfortable place to be.
  • Learn to listen to yourself – properly – pay attention to those gut feelings.
Reflection 2: There is no such thing as “should”. This is your journey; no-one else’s. Reflection 3: Find out what is important to you. 
  • This can be hard work if you have never stopped to think about it because you have always been caught up in the hamster wheel or just followed the bouncing ball of the “expected” career trajectory.
  • I personally found this very challenging and took quite some time to work through.  Establishing what is important to me, what I am passionate about and why.   This is where good coaches came in.

Where to from here

If you are reading this, my sense is that in some way you are curious, evaluating your options. My recommendations for you:
  1. This starts with you. Identify what you don’t know and work out a strategy to get there.
    • Is it professional and/or personal development?
    • Is it building connections to get to know the right people?
    • Is it working out your why?
  2. Work out what help you need. Surround yourself with the right people to support you.
  3. Be prepared to invest in yourself.
    • Investment does not necessarily mean financial
    • It can be time, energy and/or space.
    • Or looking after yourself physically and/or mentally.
    • You can’t expect others to invest in you if you are not prepared to invest in yourself.
  4. Don’t keep putting it off or pushing it down. Believe me, that feeling will keep welling up. It took me years to act on those feelings. I encourage you to take action sooner rather than later.

What are you waiting for? Are you ready to make a move?

Written By Debbie Millard

Master your business through strong leadership, knowing your numbers and empowering your people

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