The Skills for Success

The Skills for Success

Developing and demonstrating the talents employers are looking for

British science writer Roger Lewin once said, “Too often we give children answers to remember, rather than problems to solve.” And if we’re honest, this is often the case in professional education, too.

It’s useful to remind ourselves of the most important outcome we seek from our system of lifelong learning. To me, it’s simple: Develop the skills and knowledge that employers and clients rely upon for success. And what are business leaders telling us they want? When it comes to management accounting, they’ve been clear: technical expertise in accounting and finance; business acumen; people skills; leadership skills; and real-world, practical experience.

How do I know this? It’s based on extensive research that the American Institute of CPAs and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants have done in support of the Chartered Global Management Accounting designation, held by more than 150,000 professionals worldwide. And it’s built into the CGMA competency framework and the CIMA professional qualification syllabus for management accounting that ties into the framework.

There’s little doubt that competency-based approaches are where education is moving. The CIMA syllabus is grounded in leading global practice, and is designed to develop specific skills that employers need today but are having difficulty finding. Some 36 percent of employers internationally reported talent shortages in 2014, and accounting and finance personnel represent one of the top categories for shortages.

In light of these trends, leading companies such as Shell, Cisco, IBM and GlaxoSmithKline are increasingly seeking out CGMA designation-holders. Paul Stephens, senior vice president of finance for AT&T’s business solutions and international operations, said that the company currently has several CPAs going through CGMA certification.

“We see this as an opportunity to continue the training that they had in school, and to build on their CPA certification,” he said. “It’s a way to build those intangible skills that are important to be a business leader within AT&T — and that includes such things as risk management, leadership, analytical thinking, all the stuff you need to do on top of just being a good technical accountant.” Read more on Accounting Today