My advice for up and coming finance professionals? Don’t get stuck in your silo – get out and collaborate.
When someone asks you for your opinion or advice to pass on to young professionals, it’s often tricky to narrow down your thinking to two or three bullet points. When these professionals working in a different business function, the job gets that little bit harder still.
However, there’s not as much difference between Procurement and Finance professionals in the early stages of their careers. So, based on my own experience, I have put together my top three pieces of advice for new professionals (whether they are in Finance or any other profession).
- Avoid a Silo Mentality
Maybe the most important piece of advice I can think of, hence why it’s come first. In the early part of my career, there was nothing more frustrating than trying to explain what procurement did, and why we added value to the business.
We worked closely with other functions, such as Design, Manufacturing, and Finance, but always had the same conversation why we needed to be involved at all. If you’re going to fully understand the business, then you need to get out of your functional silo and meet other people, discuss their roles, and work out how you and they fit together.
The relationship between Finance and Procurement is key to the smooth running of a number of critical operations. From supplier selection and qualification, to invoice payment, these operations will run much more efficiently with better communication and a good relationship.
If you step outside your silo, you’ll probably find that other people are willing to do this too.
- Share your Experience
Procurious founder, Tania Seary, has frequently spoken about the importance for procurement to flex their collective muscle and create a community of practice. The same could be said about creating a community of finance professionals.
Quandl’s tips for being a great analyst highlight spotting patterns and finding out the ‘why’ behind the numbers. A great way of doing this is to get out and talk to people, be it others in your profession, or others around your business. Discussing tools and apps that you and others have found helpful could make all the difference.
The chances are fairly high that someone, somewhere, will have come across a similar situation in the past. They might even have a solution for it too, and they’re probably willing to share their experience and knowledge to help out others.
Your experience is valuable too, no matter the stage of your career. Find time to note down specific issues you have had, who you spoke to, how they helped, and your eventual solution. Share this with your fellow professionals, and you’ll start to build both profile and influence. One of the great ways to do this is via social media.
- Leverage Social Media for Your Brand
Social media is just as important for your professional life as it is for your personal life. There are a number of great platforms available, each offering a different way to build your personal brand.
In business now, many people think that if you don’t have your own online profile, you don’t really exist. Both recruiters and employers will use social media to learn more about you as an individual – whether it’s to check your employment history against a CV you have submitted, to understanding what makes you tick as a person via social media posts.
The best thing is, it only takes 10-15 minutes each day to stay up to date.
Telling people what you are doing, reading relevant content from industry publications, listening to a great podcast – all of these can be done on your way to work, or over lunch. Once you’re in a routine, it’s easy to maintain your social media presence during the day.
By doing this, you’re raising your own profile and starting to build influence, as well as gathering knowledge that will help in your day-to-day work.
And whether you are Finance professionals, or Procurement professionals (or others), this will certainly stand you in good stead as your career progresses.