Careers

The hybrid career

Dec 03, 2018
The days of traditional accountancy careers are over. Companies are looking to Chartered Accountants to combine their qualification with skills outside of the typical accountant’s remit to accommodate the evolving workplace.

Traditionally, accountants and other professionals had a job for life. In recent years, this has started to change. Chartered Accountants, in particular, have an increasing range of options open to them. This has been accelerated in recent times with the fast pace of change in the workplace, much of which has been driven by technology. Embracing career-broadening opportunities in a constantly changing workplace is essential to ensure career success.

The emergence of the hybrid career

As the global and Irish economies evolve, so too has the job market for many professionals. What has emerged is a new generation of job and career options. These are commonly referred to as ‘hybrid’ careers. A hybrid career is one that essentially combines two or more roles; areas of specialism or sets of competencies that complement each other and have the potential to add real value in the context of what is happening in a fast-paced, knowledge-intensive market. The focus is on the synergies between the different disciplines and how those different skillsets have a real impact in an organisation. For Chartered Accountants, it serves to make their roles more interesting and, indeed, challenging. Job specifications are expanding to include skills and competencies that, up to now, would have been standalone roles in their own right.

What a hybrid career looks like

Hybrid roles combine traditional soft skills with high-level professional and technical expertise. There are examples of hybrid roles arising in the area of IT audit, business transformation, cybercrime as well as within the financial services sector. Accountants can combine law and accountancy in the area of compliance. Engineering, project management and accountancy are proving to be a combination sought after by employers, not just in the IT sector, but in the manufacturing and pharma sectors as well. The Project Management course offered as part of our CPD Programme is currently our bestselling course, demonstrating that these skills are now very much in demand in the workplace. 

A world of opportunity

The options are endless if you are willing to be imaginative, creative and can demonstrate to an employer how your core skills and competencies as a Chartered Accountant can blend with other talents, skills or interests that you may have. It provides you with the opportunity to follow your passion and enables you to potentially transform how an organisation operates.

For example, I recently met with a member who has gained a wide range of experience in the areas of audit and assurance, IT implementation and project management. This member had recently made a strategic career move into a rapidly growing accountancy IT solutions provider. This exciting new opportunity will allow them to use their qualification as well as their project management experience in an area where they have a genuine interest and where, due to the unique combination of their skills and experience, they have the potential to enjoy job satisfaction and excellent career development potential. They will also be developing an entirely new range of skills in the areas of client relationship management and business development, thereby increasing their marketability for the future.

Another real example of the growth of hybrid career paths has arisen in the area of big data where IT and finance skills combine to create highly analytical finance roles that require competencies in both accounting and IT. This has resulted in organisations being able to access data that was previously not available to them and, consequently, the ability to interpret and analyse that data. A Chartered Accountant can add to this development by transforming the data and analysis into insights and quality strategic decisions. There is also strong demand for IT auditors. The combination of strong auditing skills and expansive technology acumen is highly sought after in the Irish market.

If you are in a smaller SME organisation, why not indicate to the Managing Director that you want to become more operationally involved in the business? This could be as simple as starting and owning an employee eco-business project or a customer satisfaction programme. It’s all about wearing another hat.

Don’t fall behind

To keep pace with the changes that are taking place, it is imperative to develop new areas of expertise, bolt on new specialisms and develop your soft skills as your career progresses. Companies like to see a strong desire to learn and an enthusiasm to embrace change along with a natural intellectual curiosity that drives you to keep up with developments. 

One way to develop the skills required for new hybrid job opportunities is through projects or consultancy roles. Exposure to key projects and initiatives can help hone, develop and broaden your skillset. For example, many projects such as implementations, process re-engineering and outsourcing will require you to use and develop not only your finance and IT skills, but your soft skills – such as communication and influencing capabilities – as well. Enrol on training courses that dovetail with projects you are interested in getting involved with. Explore and discuss how to hybridise your skillset with your mentor and learn how they diversified their skills and competencies to advance their career. 

Overview

There is no doubt that we are at the beginning of major changes that will see the role of a Chartered Accountant evolve and change.

This obviously presents great opportunities and it is essential to ensure that you have the skills and competencies to position yourself to make the most of the career potential that emerges. You must focus on continuous learning and development, embracing change with enthusiasm and the willingness to take on a new challenge.
Ultimately, Chartered Accountants are well placed to lead the way and leverage their skillsets to benefit not only their own careers, but their workplace and organisations.
 
Karin Lanigan is the Manager of the Career Development and Recruitment Service at Chartered Accountants Ireland. 

Dave Riordan is a Recruitment Specialist and Career Coach at Chartered Accountants Ireland.