The Finance Leader Podcast

086: Project Teams Provide Opportunities to Grow Your Skills and Enhance Your Career

May 17, 2022 Stephen McLain Season 10 Episode 6
The Finance Leader Podcast
086: Project Teams Provide Opportunities to Grow Your Skills and Enhance Your Career
Show Notes Transcript

As a Finance or Accounting professional have you ever been assigned to a project team or worked on a business case?  Have you provided financial analysis or accounting advice regarding a high visibility project? These are great opportunities to develop and show off your skills. Additionally, you may get visibility with the executive team and other senior leaders. This week, I am encouraging you to seek out high visibility projects to showcase your skills and abilities, which will also help you grow your professional portfolio.
Episode outline:
1) Project teams are great opportunities,
2) What skills you need to bring,
3) Grow your network, and
4) Strengthen your professional foundation.

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Stephen McLain:

As a finance or accounting professional, have you ever been assigned to a project team or worked on a business case? Have you provided financial analysis or accounting advice regarding a high visibility project these are great opportunities to develop and show off your skills. Additionally, you may get visibility with the executive team, and other senior leaders. This week, I am encouraging you to seek out high visibility projects to showcase your skills and abilities, which will also help you grow your professional portfolio. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also, please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you. This is episode number 86. And I will be talking about the opportunity to work on a project team or a business case. And I will highlight the following topics. Number one, project teams are great opportunities. Number two, what skills you need to bring number three, grow your network, and four strengthen your professional foundation. author Stephen Covey said, I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions. I have a great topic for you this week, we are talking about working on a project team. project teams and working on business cases are great opportunities for you to develop your skills. And get in front of senior leadership. I have worked on many project teams, both in the army and in corporate settings. It's an amazing opportunity to solve problems when you are in the working meetings, and to also provide the financial analysis and testing results that supports or even doesn't support the project. This happens and that's okay. I love project teams because it gave me a say in critical projects. That made a difference. Not everyone, but many. Maybe we were looking to increase revenue or to try to find some significant savings. These were projects that the leadership team felt were important to pursue, and I had a chance to positively influence them. With my financial analysis and other inputs. I felt I made an impact during most projects. I gave them my Input and Analysis, I use my leadership ability to shape the project's outcome, it felt great to be part of something important to my organization. And they helped me tremendously, and they were a lot of work. As a finance and accounting professional, we get to show off our skills and abilities. And we even get to develop our skills over the life of the project. These project teams will require you to approach problem solving differently, you will work together to develop the solution it may get tense sometimes, as you work through the facts and assumptions to develop viable courses of action and ensure you become a leader on the project team. Developing your leadership is another great opportunity numbers will often validate a project. So this is where you can show your influence. But your numbers must make sense and be defendable to scrutiny. Your methodology must be sound and make sense. Another great aspect with working on a project team is that you get to meet many new people. So you end up growing your network. These are people who can help you into the future. And you can also help them. I forged many new friendships and contacts on project teams. So don't forget to actively grow and nurture your network. I'll mention the important aspect of being on a project team a few times during this episode. The first step is that I want you to work on a project team if you're not already. And of course, your organization may not have a shortage of projects. So you may already have two or three going and that's great. It tells me your company has a robust process of where they want to go, and they're looking for ways to grow the business. The second consideration for getting on a project team is getting on the right project team. The best ones are where you are looking at growing revenue. Maybe it's an acquisition or a new product line, or a new offering to grow incremental revenue. The other type is a way to create savings and efficiencies. So you are looking at projects that affect the middle of the p&l statement. And that's another way to make your mark. The right project team may also mean working with a senior executive who is going places and is a great influence. You want to be on their team and then make a huge impression with your skills and abilities. Now Let's talk about why we should be working on a project team. Number one, project teams are great opportunities. Do you want to have an impact on something critically important to your organization, this is the great opportunity with being assigned to a project team, you can be part of something that grows the business that changes the business, and helps move it forward. It's great. So when you get on one be thrilled you get to lead change. And even better, I would like for you to actively seek out these opportunities. You will be developing all sorts of skills analysis, problem solving, oral and written communication, collaboration, time management, and many others. When you work on a project team, you will have the opportunity to present your findings in front of key people to show off your skills and abilities, and to show off your presentation skills. Every time you work on a project it will be career enhancing, you will be building key experience with actual results. A project team is nothing that is routine. And every time you work on one, it is a potential resume entry, and it may help you get the next role. There are three types of projects to try to get on that will help you in all the areas that I mentioned above revenue growth, cost savings and efficiencies, and key infrastructure that helps the company as a whole. These are high visibility projects that can affect top line revenue, and the p&l as a whole. Get on those projects. Number two, what skills you need to bring. Depending upon which role you are filling on the team and the type of project, you will need to provide detailed financial analysis, cost projections and the rate of return, you will need to effectively collaborate with others. You need to work well with other people to solve a problem. It's often not easy, but as you work, you will see your improvement. You must have great oral and written skills, especially the ability to present, explain and defend your analysis, including your methodology. They will try to dissect it to see what you're saying makes sense. Number three, grow your network. When on a project team you will meet many people whom you have probably not met before you will meet and work with some interesting people who may be able to help you later and you in turn can help them. It's a great opportunity to grow your network and the company with every new meeting, nurture and grow that connection. As you develop your network you will see your influence grow. This of course assumes you become someone who displays professional credibility, and can get along well with others. Are you confident? Are you able to solve problems? And one of the most critical elements to growing your network? Are people drawn to you or do you repel them. Due to your attitude or lack of self awareness this is up to you. So grow and nurture your network with every project team opportunity. Number four, strengthen your professional foundation, you will learn many new things in a project team your business acumen will grow. Your knowledge of other functions within the company will develop. You will deepen your understanding of the company as a whole if you pay attention. Every project team you successfully work on is a bridge to making your resume even stronger, which in turn can help you land that next role in your individual development plan. Your professional foundation will expand in your qualifications will grow. finance and accounting professionals are often hired on their hard technical skills and experience. Along with the leadership ability. Every project team has a chance to become more qualified for a future role. What impact did the project have? How did you influence the outcome was the project approved and what results followed? capture this in your resume and your LinkedIn profile? Please continue to grow your skills don't be complacent in skills development. Look for what is being required in the marketplace for finance and accounting professionals. project teams are another great way to grow your skills. And that means calculating projections, rates of return incremental revenue and margin, cost savings, analytical testing and many other finance metric related skills and then explaining and defending your numbers to key leaders. The numbers are used to validate a project. So you must ensure you are using the proper modeling techniques and methodologies for your organization. And be prepared to defend those numbers for action today. Are you currently working on a high visibility project or business case? If not, I want to encourage you to get assigned to one you may not have any influence on project team assignments. But you can ask for one or the next one. Often there are more projects than people so it becomes which project you will work on. What projects are best. I like projects that will bring new revenue and create cost savings or efficiencies and having made your impact and how we do business. I had been on all these types of projects and on some others that just needed to be done. And as an example of a project that doesn't fit those three types of projects, I was on a legal compliance project once that was nothing but troublesome. We were being forced to do something due to a change in law, the senior leaders hated it. But we needed to do it, I had to be the person who showed the numbers where we might lose money. So not a good project to be on, but we had to get it done. So get on those incremental revenue projects that are exciting and can grow top line revenue. Those are great to be on because we naturally love to see our revenue increase, and hopefully EBITA increases to great projects, so as to be assigned to one if not already. Don't forget to grab my free guide for you called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. Are you a finance or accounting professional who is also leading people, but have questions about how to lead more effectively. I know you are expected to be the technical expert in our field. Learning leadership can set you apart from your peers, which can then lead you to more opportunities. In the free guide, I talk about three leadership areas, communication, team development, and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the financial systems you are using to complete your work. The link to this free guide is in the post or the bio, you can also go to Finance leader To download it. Please use the guide to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. Today I talked about working on a project team and I highlighted the following points. Number one, project teams are great opportunities. Number two, what skills you need to bring. Number three, grow your network, and four strengthen your professional foundation. Project teams are a lot of work they are demanding. They require a high level of expertise and knowledge, but also can be incredibly rewarding. They can be frustrating at times, depending on who else is on the team, you will find functional areas such as operations, training, or marketing and even it at odds over how the project should be delivered based on their own preferences and their agenda. As finance and accounting professionals, we often become the honest brokers and deliver financial analysis and advice neutrally. The numbers are the numbers. I have found myself defending the project's higher purpose many times in a working group meeting. Once I have seen people fighting for something that fits a personal agenda, but not the overall purpose. My intent is that we have to present this business case to senior leaders. And they will know if something is outside of the scope or an opposition to the purpose, we have the special privilege often of having access to senior leaders. So we often know the reasoning behind a project. And we can be that honest broker in the working group. If a project starts evolving in the wrong direction, that doesn't mean that issue should be ignored, they need to be brought up. But when one person or department has a personal agenda, we have to speak up. Usually the project manager shuts those down. Thankfully, project teams are great because we get to have input on something critical to the business. So that is why I'm encouraging you to get assigned to them. We get to lead change and grow the business and this is especially rewarding. How are you coming along with your goals and your CPE completion, we are over a third of the way through the year and like always the summer period, we'll go fast, and then fall we'll be here. And then you will realize that you still have a lot of CPE to complete. So let's get going on our plan for that. So we don't find ourselves in December and at risk for failing to achieve our professional educational requirements. Next week, I'll be talking about confidence and your self worth. I can't wait to share. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills, to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share it with others and please leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the show. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you