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Leaderonomics has experts on career management, HR and office issues, who will address your questions and doubts. We refer to them as Careernomers – experts in career matters who will help you in your career journey. The questions can range from issues you are facing in the workplace to career advice and questions that you need help on. Panelists will take turns answering your questions on careers.
I have an accounting degree and been in the accounting line for more than 10 years. However, I am more interested in subjects such as leadership skills, improving management skills and motivational skills in the workplace. I would like to take a course in these but do not know what and where is the right place to start. Should I do a Masters? What are the possible career avenues after completing the course? As I have no prior working experience in this area, I will need to consider the future outlook too. Hope you can share some advice.
Responses from our Careernomers
It looks like your career is reaching its crossroads and you are ready for a change at least in exploring potential alternatives. From the subjects and courses you mentioned, it appears you are inclined towards leadership and management track as far as your career preference goes. Hence, you are looking at moving into a generalist role from your current functional expert role in accounting.
Before you make that call, I suggest that you take a Career Aptitude Test and thereafter meet a career counsellor who is available at universities or colleges. The counsellor perhaps after reviewing the test results may guide you to a career which will suit your competencies and aptitude. You may be blinded by wanting to move out of your current role and may walk into another career which may not be your cup of tea. Entering a management track requires certain competencies and soft-skills and you must be certain that you positively possess before taking such role as you may find yourself not able to cope with it, especially in managing people.
A Masters or Graduate degree in my opinion is a complementary qualification and should only be considered when you are certain of your career track. This is due to the fact that there are also specialties in a graduate programme, eg. Management, Finance, Human Resource Development, Business Science etc. Hence, unless you are sure which track to take it may not be so meaningful and effective to embark into a graduate programme right away.
Another option is for you to talk to people who are holding management roles. By doing that, you will be able to better understand the challenges and the competencies of the role. For example, a Finance Manager or an Accounting Manager will do less of the accounts consolidation, book keeping or closing and will rather do supervisory or reviewing of reports and managing of the Finance or Accounts Department staff. As such, by talking to people who are already in that role, you will be better able to manage your expectation.
Lastly, before you explore job opportunities beyond your current company, it may be prudent for you to consider the possibility of taking a different role and function in your current organisation. There may be a suitable position or a management position which the company has planned for you. By doing that, not only can you retain your contact with your colleagues, you will also be able learn more about the organisation and expand your functional capabilities which may be invaluable as you climb the corporate ladder.
Apart from that, you can also ask for expanded responsibilities by participating in projects or short term assignments which may act as stretched targets in your current job which you thrive in. I wish you luck and all the best in exploring the endless possibilities which may be a great adventure for you in your career crossroad.
Bani has worked in HR roles with Sime Darby, Motorola both in Malaysia and the US, AC Nielson and is currently the Senior Vice-President leading the Corporate Services division at Malakoff. He brings a wealth of HR best practices both locally and globally.
The beauty about the areas that you are interested in is that they are applicable across ALL industries! The good news is, if you still have an interest in accounting, you can stay on in this field of work and still be able to learn more about leadership, management and motivational skills. You can learn more about these life skills by attending workshops, reading articles/books/biographies and most importantly, practicing what you learnt. Experience coupled with intentional reflection and learning will be your best teacher.
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From there, once you have enough “success stories” to tell about your leadership and management style, you can start by offering to give talks in your company or to any other group of people managers. You can eventually move on to formulating one or two days training or workshops to impart your learnt skills in a more impactful manner. If such opportunities are not available at your workplace, I suggest you approach universities who are active in their Career Services. If you find interest in being a trainer, participate in a “Train the Trainer” programme to be equipped for the job.
If you wish to have an educational backing to supplement your experiences, you can then consider Masters in Leadership or Masters in Management in our universities here such as Sunway University, University of Nottingham, Open University and local universities. As you research on the courses, look specifically at the modules and make sure they meet your learning expectations.
I must emphasise that although you can have a Masters/PhD in Leadership or Management or have read countless books on these topics, all these head knowledge and paper qualifications will not make a genuine expert in this area until you have personally mastered the skills through experience.
I strongly encourage you to be proactively practising and fine tuning your skills in the area of leadership, management and motivation at your current workplace, if you have not done so already.
All the best!
Elisa Dass Avin
Elisa currently heads the Assessment and Career Growth at Leaderonomics. She grew from the role of an FES counsellor to an identified Young High Potential in Sunway Group, where she also led the Career Services Team. She was later recruited as a Senior Talent Assessment Consultant prior to leading Inspired Minds.