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Career Pivots and Advice in Finance: Recapping our Virtual Coffee Chat

We recently hosted a virtual coffee chat led by Rose Punkunus (Founder & CEO of Sudozi), Emily Westerhold (CFO @ VSCO), and Mike Renn (Head of Operations at Circulo Health) along with over 20 industry professionals in accounting and finance on the topic of career pivots. We had some great conversations about career experiences, the influence of our network, and the skills that matter most. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Early on in your career

  • If you like to get things done and work, don’t force yourself to do more school.  Both of our speakers worked right after college, never went back for their MBAs, and have very successful careers.
  • Use opportunities when you’re early in your career to participate in meetings even if you’re not taking a lead role.  Get experience reading a room and learning the non-quantitative ways of how things get done and how decisions are made.
  • Cannot overemphasize the importance of building a network and staying connected even early on in your career.  You never know when those relationships will be needed and can pay dividends later on.

Career pivots

  • As you advance in your career, think about the corporate culture you want to be a part of.  The culture and people should be as much of a driver as the industry and specific role in your decision.
  • It may be important to relate to the product the company delivers.  For example, do you get more excited about a consumer company because you actually use the product?  It’s okay to let personal preferences drive career decisions.  It’ll make you happier and more engaged in the long run.
  • If you have a few good options, don’t force yourself to explore all the jobs out there.  While you may have FOMO, it has generally worked out to just go with the opportunity presented rather than doing a big job search.

Additional advice

  • There are a lot of careers in tech for people with finance and accounting backgrounds.  Roles from growth marketing to engineering operations, the sky's the limit!
  • When interviewing for a new opportunity, know what you have to sell and your unique skill sets.  You can almost always find something in a general business background that can relate to the new role.
  • Think about what experiences you’re trying to get out of your next role.  Is it an opportunity to travel?  How about an opportunity to learn a different business model?  Knowing what you want to get out of a role will help focus your energies on the job.
  • Maintain strong relationships and networks.  Your network will likely have a big influence on your next opportunity or reference check for a new opportunity.

If you want to watch our Coffee Chat session, it’s now available on-demand for free here.


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