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How Do You Define the Skills Gap From Staff to the C-Suite?

I am looking for perspectives to define the “skills gap” in the area of finance and accounting, both hard and soft skills. I recently read an article from the WSJ blog regarding companies seeing a skills gap from recent college graduates, in both categories. I can understand their concerns. But what about skills gaps from experienced professionals (5+ years) seeking employment (if any)? I have listed some skills sets in both areas. Hard skills: Knowledge and experience with ERP systems such as Oracle, SAP, Lawson; SaaS systems: Netsuite, Adaptive Insights (Adaptive Planning), Intacct; MS Software: Excel, creating reports, either creating or contributing to budgets, forecasting skills, knowledge of Excel functions such as pivot tables, v-lookups, whatifs, formulas; Word processing. Soft Skills: Effective communication from staff to the C-suite, “fitting in with a co. culture,” corporate etiquette, “team player” an effective collaborator, building cross-functional teams, good business partnership skills, good customer relationship management skills. Your thoughts?

Answers

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

There will only be a "gap" if the company is looking for the proverbial purple squirrel. Companies nowadays don't want to invest in their personnel. Also, companies need to reevaluate what they want against what they need. Their wants may not necessarily be what they need and more importantly, what they think they need may not necessarily be so.

Take me for example. I do NOT have all the ERP/Accounting package software experience but having an MBA in Info Systems, having implemented/reengineered a few financial system packages (that I did NOT have any prior experience on), I am confident that I can chalk out a success to whatever ERP or Accounting package a company can put in front of me. I wince when I hear that they "need" someone who has handled a specific package. As I always say...give me one cycle and I will tell you what you are doing right or what you are doing wrong.

Bottom line, there is NO purple squirrel which companies seem to be hunting. ...(and to hammer my point.....they need a beaver).

Passion, resourcefulness/adaptability, diversity of opinion/point of view, track record of success is what matters most in today's ever changing economic environment.

...and don't even start me on the "industry experience" requirement. (sigh....steps off the box)

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Careers
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Careers) |

A systematic approach can work. Outline what you need from each position within your department to support your company's strategic objectives, identify gaps, and then do a cost/benefit analysis and fill the gaps whose closure offers the biggest impact. There is no one "purple squirrel", but there are certainly areas when improvement can impact productivity and strategic value. I often times ask my own people what they need to be more successful and that gives them ownership and accountability in their own improvement, and I also make them estimate the cost and justify the spend to me.

Bryan Fritz
Title: Taoist Finance Officer
Company: Business Consultant
LinkedIn Profile
(Taoist Finance Officer, Business Consultant) |

I can't talk to much about the hard skills, but as far as soft skills go emotional intelligence seems to be the largest "skills gap" I see with experienced professionals. I have worked with many people senior to me in their 40's, 50's and 60's yet this skill seems to be missing. Most of business is the management of people and their energy to achieve goals. Yet from my own experience a lot of professionals do not understand psychology and human behavior at an advanced level and this is what separates the super stars from everyone else. Today one can go online and learn almost any hard skill from an expert in a few days/weeks/months (i.e. proformative). On the other hand running a meeting with a group of five different personalities is much more difficult to pickup in a short period of time. I do not see this getting much better as business schools do not emphasize this aspect enough in the educational process. I also think this is why you see a lot of successful CEO's who were philosophy majors in college. Philosophy can help you understand the world, business and people on a much deeper level and therefore increase your emotional intelligence.

Anonymous
(Tax/Business Consultant) |

As the other commenters have mentioned, it really depends on what the company needs or wants.

Let's be honest and just say it...
Many companies are looking for the "best" employees (which is FACT when you talk to many HR professionals and companies and other surveys made available regarding employment) which IS BOGUS!

NO employee will have ALL the skills/experience that a company is looking for.
Notice how MANY companies do NOT offer ANY type of training anymore and want to hire away people from other companies and then expect them to "know everything" when interviewed/hired.

Companies STILL have the WRONG mindset from years ago when the economy was not good (and still is Not, to some degree and depending on the situation/field) and they could "cherry pick" the employees. Well, the companies are still doing that.

Instead of 'cherry picking' the candidates with the "best" qualifications, companies SHOULD be choosing the ones with the skills/experience that will HELP the company NOW!

People can learn, despite what @Fritz mentions about the 'soft' skills.

" I have worked with many people senior to me in their 40's, 50's and 60's yet this skill seems to be missing."

Seems like he's a younger generational worker based on his statement, which I could be mistaken but whatever.

The SAME can be said about the Millennials and younger generation... very arrogant, short attention span and very materialistic. Same traits found in Baby Boomers!

But I digress!

Some [hard/soft] skills can NOT be learned online.
Why? How's it related to life/work experience?

CLASSIC example... A person graduated from school with a 4.0 GPA BUT has NO/very limited work experience. A person with "book smartz" but NO practical experience.

You'd think anyone would just hire them and put them in a position where you "need" the experience and without much supervision or training? Seriously?!

" But what about skills gaps from experienced professionals (5+ years) seeking employment (if any)? I have listed some skills sets in both areas. Hard skills: Knowledge and experience with ERP systems such as Oracle, SAP, Lawson; SaaS systems: Netsuite, Adaptive Insights (Adaptive Planning), Intacct; MS Software... "

Technical skills like the computer field... maybe.

Finance/accounting skills... NO! You NEED the experience and business judgement necessary to do the work. You'll notice that young graduates are put into entry-level positions which are mundane and boring BUT it helps them the 1st year to "see" how things "actually work in the REAL WORLD" instead of the "academic world" which can be Entirely different!

There are lots of things NOT taught in school or a similar educational environment!
Honesty, work ethic, integrity, competency.. to name a few!

Saying that you can just learn "hard/soft skills (relatively easy) online just makes you sound Arrogant and shows your EGO!

NOT ALL schools TEACH students those software.
ERP? Payroll software? All various types of financial/accounting/tax software?
What company "teaches or trains" ALL their employees the differing types of software?? SERIOUSLY?!?!

Also, it depends on the companies!
NOT ALL companies use the SAME software so a Person will NOT KNOW all the software that YOUR company uses!
REALLY?? You SERIOUSLY think that a person will know ALL softwares, maybe within their field??
SERIOUSLY?!?!

That is Just UNREALISTIC and you SHOULD KNOW IT!

It's like saying a person with 'credentials' like an MBA will solve all your problems because, well, a person has an MBA and so knows 'everything' and better than anyone else without such credentials.

FYI...
In my many years of experience in finance/accounting, I've had to CORRECT MANY MISTAKES done by people with credentials or titles, many of whom had many years of work experience and many credentials after their name.

They knew how to "talk the talk" but do NOT know how to "walk the walk"!
All BS!
AND that goes to both the Older generations as well as the Younger generations.

Look at the Financial crisis... it was caused by many people in the finance and accounting industries with titles/credentials.

It makes one think... What does experience or skills have to do with being "successful" [when people are corrupt]? Define "success"!

Arrogance, ignorance, greed.. all open to equal opportunities regardless of sex, age, race, education, etc.!

Side note..
Notice how there's NO such thing as employee loyalty anymore considering how employees are treated as Disposable assets instead of Valued assets.

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