What does it take to succeed in tomorrow’s finance world? Professional growth. As an accounting or finance leader, your role as a controller has long been straightforward—handle the day-to-day operations. However, with the rise of AI and the push to outsource, stagnation is dangerous.

With the accounting role one of the first to bounce back from the great recession, the past decade had created a war for talent. But companies have long ‘survived’ the talent shortage in the accounting department, with many turning to automation to stave off the talent crisis.

However, a virus comes along and changed that. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hold back the economy, you may be fighting with machines. Knowing this, it pays to broaden your skillset, and now is the perfect time to do so.

Going Beyond CPE: A Broadening Skillset for a New Workplace

You may be thinking to yourself, “I already spend a lot of time learning skills, it’s required to keep my CPA license.” While this way of thinking has long been viable, a changing workplace requires a changing skillset. As “traditional” accounting skills like auditing and data entry are increasingly automated via machine learning and AI, tomorrow’s professionals will need to have deep technical knowledge in a wide range of strategic competencies.

Though we have discussed some of these skills in our AI whitepaper, the reality is that you’re working in new business environments that require you to adapt.

The Many Shapes of Professional—Which One Are You?

There are many ways to think about new skillsets in the accounting world. Naturally, as an accounting person, you have a deep understanding of accounting. Over the past few weeks, we’ve used the term T-shaped individual to define a person who can hold his or her own in any room. But that’s not the only kind of professional.

Whether these are the kind of people you work with or the kind of person you aspire to be, professional growth often has you moving down this list.

  • Hyphen-shaped (generalists): The kind of person who has broad experience but little expertise, hyphen shaped individuals are the utility players of an organization.
  • I-Shaped (Specialists): The most likely scenario for accountants is that of a specialist. Deep in one area, specialists can deliver necessary understanding of a topic and require collaboration if a skill need goes beyond their role.
  • TShaped: T-shaped people are employees with broad experience in different disciplines that is illustrated by the horizontal bar of “T”, and they have a deep expertise in their field or discipline which is represented by the “T’s” vertical bar. 
  • MShaped: With deep expertise in three areas and broad knowledge, M-shaped people are those who deliver the cross-functional knowledge a company needs.
  • PiShaped: Breadth is combined with not one but two separate domains of deep expertise, creating a shape similar to the symbol for Pi (combining T and M-shaped people). The Pi shape is unique and makes an excellent metaphor for team members that are truly adaptive. 
  • Comb-Shaped: Comb shaped employee have multiple areas of expertise areas which gives the shape of a comb and a broad top or base for collaboration. 
  • EShaped: Expertise in few areas, Experience across several areas, specialist with proven execution skills and explorative minds combined to formed E shaped employee. These are the kind of people trusted to execute.
  • XShaped: X shaped employees has a deep expertise built on solid credibility but can also lead diverse teams to accomplish a goal.

Growing Your Skills as a Finance Leader: Join the Controller’s Council

Success tomorrow is all about growth today. Becoming a constant learner is valuable to a team, and now is the perfect time to start broadening your skills. If you’re looking to expand your skillset and come out of the COVID-19 outbreak better than ever, get to know the Controller’s Council. We’ll be discussing how to broaden your skillset in coming weeks, so follow us for details.

Additional Resources

Key Skills for the Accounting Department: Decisiveness

The Continued Expansion of the Finance Department

Financial Planning and Analysis Software: What Accounting Heads Need to Know

5 Questions Controllers Should be Asking Their CFOWebinar Tuesday, October 26

As key financial leaders within the organization, Controllers are increasingly tasked with improving the efficiency of operations, implementing new technologies and guiding teams toward paperless workflows. To do this effectively, they need to work closely with their CFOs to drive the organization towards executable strategies that maximize the value brought by investment in technology.