Does climbing the career ladder ever feel like you're climbing Mount Everest?


By Sandra Rapacioli

Far from the stereotype of sitting in a back office crunching numbers, today’s financial professionals can benefit from an expanding range of career opportunities – from business partner positions to directorships. In the UK, 67% of newly appointed CEOs come from a finance background.

Statistics like this can be inspiring for CGMAs but, for those of you working hard day in and day out without any signs of promotion, the route to a more senior management role can seem like a mystery. Sometimes you need some practical advice about the right steps to take to reach the top.

This is where our new career development tool – Six tips for finance professionals wanting to move up the career ladder – can help. Designed to help all CGMAs reach their full potential, it’s full of advice and tips from successful finance professionals who have made the leap to management positions.

It’s clear from our in-depth interviews with global leaders that reaching the top isn’t just about working hard. You’ll also need to increase your influence, make strategic moves, and develop a range of skills in addition to maintaining your financial knowledge.

Kenneth E. Baggett, CEO of the Reznick Group, for example, explains the importance of communication and influencing skills. “You have to know how to motivate people, so they have a clear sense of purpose, feel that they are part of the decision-making process, and are inspired to achieve common goals,” he explains.

As well as building up your skills, it’s important to have a vision, as Thomas J. Falk, Chairman and CEO of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, explains. “Know what you want to do next and what you want to accomplish over the next several years,” he advises. “You don’t have to figure out the rest of your career, but you should have a three to five year plan.”

Our new tool contains a checklist to help you develop such a plan, evaluating where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. It also outlines six key steps that will help you move up the career ladder.

One of the key steps is entitled Never stop learning, and I was struck by how many of the successful leaders we spoke to emphasised the importance of continuing to learn – both through study and through challenges at work. Garris Chen, Vice President at DHL Asia, offers great advice for anyone who wants to progress. “Take on new challenges…and learn as much as possible... You have to be like a sponge: when people give you information just absorb it and don’t try to act like you’re smarter than them.”

To read more advice from global leaders, and to discover the other key steps to success, you can start by downloading the tool.

If you have any tips to share, questions to ask, or challenges you’d like help with on your journey to the top, why not join the discussion about the new tool on our online community.