Author Topic: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting  (Read 4330 times)

Nerdly

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All,

I am looking for some advice on landing a supply chain position. My background is accounting and finance and I am a CPA.

I have recently had a screening interview with a large private manufacturing company for a Supply Chain Analyst position. My next interview is with the supply chain director and a few other individuals I would be working with regularly.

I am 26, and my experience so far has been as a financial analyst (internship) and then "three" years in public accounting (2 busy seasons as an intern and 2 years as full-time). I primarily focus on performing reviewed financial statements which involves a lot of analytics, inquiry of the client, and coming up with conclusions based on the findings. I also train new staff and interns on performing reviews, help with recruiting, communicate with clients, and complete some tax and audit work. Unfortunately, the industry I focus on is not manufacturing. My primary experience is in retail, transport, and automobile dealerships.

My goal is to find some overlapping skills that are transferable from public accounting to supply chain and to be able to connect with the supply chain director by talking to him in a way he can relate to.

Here is my list so far:
- Demonstrate teamwork and communication through working with managers/partners/clients to get projects done and by attending networking events and young professional events for new business development and recruiting.
- Analytic ability through the my primary work with reviewed financial statements
- Ability to meet strict deadlines and work under pressure (nature of public accounting)

Any ideas on some other things I can transfer to Supply Chain? The primary responsibility will be to analyze data, draw conclusions, and communicate findings with procurement and other departments.

My primary reason for the switch is to get on the "Frontline" of a business rather than summarizing what has happened over the past year. In public accounting, if you have a good idea to improve efficiency, it rarely gets implemented due to partners/managers only focusing on the current year's realization rather than the long-term.

Thanks!

 

Otsog

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Re: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 10:19:17 AM »
I don't have any supply chain experience.

If it was me I'd try to find out what ERP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_resource_planning) system they used and try to learn everything I could about it before hand. 

They might have a customized one or if you can't find out I think SAP and Oracle are the most common, I'd try to learn about those.  If they ask then you can at least say you are familiar with ERP systems.


I am an accountant too.  For overlapping skills I would focus on highlighting your variance analysis experience. Make it clear to them you are an excel WIZARD,  You make vlookup and  pivot tables in your sleep. If you are not an excel wizard, become one. To try to make for not having manufacturing experience, highlight your inventory analysis experience in the retail and automobile sectors.

Good luck!

Weedy Acres

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Re: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2014, 04:47:38 PM »
It would be helpful to be able to speak the lingo of purchasing/supply chain people.  It may be a bit eleventh-hour to do this, if you've already got an interview set up.  Do you have an Operations Management sitting around from your college days?  Could you go to a local university's library and cram some textbooks?  APICS has a supply chain management program/certification, so they're a good resource, though again, you're looking for a crash course.

If you can't completely learn their language by the time it gets to the interview, at least have a good story about why you want to switch from auditing to supply chain analysis.  You mention wanting to help support prospective decisions being more energizing for you.  Come up with some specific examples that can demonstrate your analytical skills being applied in supply chain decisions.  For example, think of a situation where you were auditing someone's books and noticed certain numbers telling you something that made you realize if they changed their distribution network they could save money and improve delivery, and you really wanted to go chase that down, but you had to just focus on summarizing the past, and you were chomping at the bit to change the future.

Give some examples of projects you'd love to work on, and make sure they're relevant, value-added supply chain management problems.  That'll help bridge the gap.

mozar

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Re: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2014, 10:10:43 AM »
If your goal is to be on the "frontline"
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 11:31:36 AM by mozar »

BusinessMajor

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Re: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2014, 12:33:15 PM »
+1 for vocab knowledge
Quote
It would be helpful to be able to speak the lingo of purchasing/supply chain people
You have probably come across your fair share of terms like COGS/Gross Margin/Revenue and know intimately how they're calculated. Now you need to pick up concepts like safety stock, turns, cycle counts etc. Don't worry about the complicated terms yet as you're applying for an analyst position. There will be plenty to learn while working at the company.

+1 for Excel skills. Analysts live and die by the cell.

Other skills to consider:
Willingness to learn. You passed the CPA and seem hungry for knowledge here. Play that up. Supply chain is an ever evolving field.

Industry Trends & Topics:
  • Are you curious about how 3-D printing will impact the supply chain? Will it affect the potential employer?
  • Tax-efficient procurement. The global economy is dependent on cross-border purchasing activity from other domestic/foreign locations. Your financial background could help to understand the complete picture of the supply chain.
  • How is the supply chain department organized? Is is a part of Finance? Is it a separate department? Is there a COO? CPO? This will give you key insights into the departments priorities. If they're separate, they often like to focus on their own metrics as much as possible. If they're under finance, often there are stricter financial metrics about delivering value to the bottom line.
  • Vendor Risk Management. You've got strong financial analysis skills, could they apply to any risk management activities that they're doing?
  • Office supplies. There are tons of elements of supply chain throughout any organization. Even hedge funds who are the opposite end of the "production spectrum" from a manufacturing company still need supply chain concepts. They still buy office supplies, right? Look around for all those types of tangentially related concepts that you've been exposed to throughout your accounting career.

My background:
Big 4 - Management consultant focused on Procurement/Supply Chain Operations
Degree from top accounting school (majored in Supply Chain Mgmt & Information Systems, but had strong accounting experience in school)
Long-term girlfriend is an auditor for a different Big 4

Nerdly

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Re: Calling All Supply Chain Mustachians - Career Switch from Accounting
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2014, 08:26:48 PM »
I am an accountant too.  For overlapping skills I would focus on highlighting your variance analysis experience. Make it clear to them you are an excel WIZARD,  You make vlookup and  pivot tables in your sleep. If you are not an excel wizard, become one. To try to make for not having manufacturing experience, highlight your inventory analysis experience in the retail and automobile sectors.

Great advice! Bringing up variance analysis and inventory analysis will help.

It would be helpful to be able to speak the lingo of purchasing/supply chain people.  It may be a bit eleventh-hour to do this, if you've already got an interview set up.  Do you have an Operations Management sitting around from your college days?  Could you go to a local university's library and cram some textbooks?  APICS has a supply chain management program/certification, so they're a good resource, though again, you're looking for a crash course.

If you can't completely learn their language by the time it gets to the interview, at least have a good story about why you want to switch from auditing to supply chain analysis.  You mention wanting to help support prospective decisions being more energizing for you.  Come up with some specific examples that can demonstrate your analytical skills being applied in supply chain decisions.  For example, think of a situation where you were auditing someone's books and noticed certain numbers telling you something that made you realize if they changed their distribution network they could save money and improve delivery, and you really wanted to go chase that down, but you had to just focus on summarizing the past, and you were chomping at the bit to change the future.

Give some examples of projects you'd love to work on, and make sure they're relevant, value-added supply chain management problems.  That'll help bridge the gap.

I read and listened to (via kindle text to talk) Supply Chain Essentials to learn the basic lingo. Granted, they know I do not have experience in supply chain, but showing them I will put in the work to learn it will help. I have definitely been brainstorming examples and think I have a decent base. Thanks for the thoughts!

If your goal is to be on the "frontline" consider staying about three more years in public accounting. Once you get to senior or manager you can make a lateral move into CFO at a small company. Then you will be in charge of the whole shebang.
For myself I was in public accounting for two years. Now I am part of a small internal audit team that makes recommendations for a large federal government entity (10,000 plus on campus). When I come up with recommendations they have to implement them. I also help them implement recommendations from external auditors.

The reason I'm leaving public accounting is because I am not passionate about the work or industry. However, it did provide a tremendous amount of opportunities and professional growth (large enough firm for name recognition, but small enough to perform audits/reviews from planning to wrap up and participate in all areas). I have made it clear to the prospective company I am willing to leave, but I will not leave my team in a stressful situation (ie; I will finish the jobs I am on), which I believe they respected. That said, if I continue in public accounting, at least with this firm, I will be doing a disservice to myself and the firm.

Internal audit is also an entry point I have thought of, but also find hard to be passionate about. Your position seems like a unique situation, but I like the idea of being able to implement your solutions.


Other skills to consider:
Willingness to learn. You passed the CPA and seem hungry for knowledge here. Play that up. Supply chain is an ever evolving field.

Industry Trends & Topics:
  • Are you curious about how 3-D printing will impact the supply chain? Will it affect the potential employer?
  • Tax-efficient procurement. The global economy is dependent on cross-border purchasing activity from other domestic/foreign locations. Your financial background could help to understand the complete picture of the supply chain.
  • How is the supply chain department organized? Is is a part of Finance? Is it a separate department? Is there a COO? CPO? This will give you key insights into the departments priorities. If they're separate, they often like to focus on their own metrics as much as possible. If they're under finance, often there are stricter financial metrics about delivering value to the bottom line.
  • Vendor Risk Management. You've got strong financial analysis skills, could they apply to any risk management activities that they're doing?
  • Office supplies. There are tons of elements of supply chain throughout any organization. Even hedge funds who are the opposite end of the "production spectrum" from a manufacturing company still need supply chain concepts. They still buy office supplies, right? Look around for all those types of tangentially related concepts that you've been exposed to throughout your accounting career.

My background:
Big 4 - Management consultant focused on Procurement/Supply Chain Operations
Degree from top accounting school (majored in Supply Chain Mgmt & Information Systems, but had strong accounting experience in school)
Long-term girlfriend is an auditor for a different Big 4

Great info! My girlfriend is also an auditor. Thanks for the advice.