In one of my favorite TED talks, Ken Robinson, an international advisor on education, discusses the question of whether schools are killing creativity. The most impactful thing he said that has stuck with me for years now was the concept of how society currently prepares students for the future. He urges his audience to think that “…children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065…, [yet] no one has a clue…what the world will look like in five years’ time” (Robinson).
This made me think: how can the current generation of students adapt their education to the unpredictable changes of the future?
Pondering over this question, I realized something simple but crucial. In order to prepare for the changing future, students need to understand where the future is heading and develop a plan to allow them to meet the changing needs of the economy.
First, it is widely accepted and known that technology is disrupting our economy and society. With this knowledge in mind, students can better understand the direction of the future.
So, how can students develop a plan to help them adapt to the evolved demands of businesses and employers? Companies no longer are looking for only technical skills but are pushing recent graduates to show them something more than a trade skill. Simply put, businesses needs are changing.
To combat the fast-paced change, students should consider Advisory services, a practice found in the Big 4 and other accounting firms that recruit students from all different backgrounds and provide numerous opportunities for employees to solve complex business problems.
Most importantly, Advisory is geared for the future.
If you have ever taken a business course or are considering a career in business, you should have or will have one major concept drilled into your brain: accounting is the language of business. Its practices continue to grow as businesses need the skills and tools accountants have to run an efficient and ethical business.
However, these accounting skills may one day become obsolete due to the disruption of technology. Mike Galarza, CEO of Entryless, argues that “one day” might actually be coming very soon.
As “Automation, Big Data, and the Internet of Things are all starting to impact the way certain jobs are performed,” Galarza urges accountants to see that accounting, as well as business in general, is evolving (Galarza).
If automation and other trending technologies are taking over the business space, it is essential to respond to that change as quickly as possible and prepare for the future demand. This demand will be for Advisory professionals.
Galarza found several specializations that accountants will need to move towards, including “financial strategy, financial data analysis,… [and] business coaching skills” (Galarza).
These are all in fact functions that can be found within Advisory practices across a myriad of accounting and consulting firms. Ernst & Young, one of the Big 4 accounting firms, has an Advisory practice with specific functions that range from Financial Risk Management, to People Services Advisory, to Technology, and the list goes on.
Thus, these are the skills undergraduates should be focusing on right now, no matter the degree they eventually plan on pursuing.
University of Maryland Letters & Sciences Assistant Director and Academic Advisor for undecided students Tom Steen tells his advisees that “for most folks, major does not equal career. Develop transferrable skills [like] reading, writing, [and] communication… that will translate to the world of work” (Steen).
As noted by someone who has advised students since 1987, those are the skills that have brought students success in the past and will continue to benefit them in the future. Those are the skills that experiences in Advisory services will cultivate and let prosper. Complimented with a background in a certain field like business or engineering, these skill sets are seen as the best of both worlds: soft skills married with technical skills.
However, you may be wondering: what if the future doesn’t change as quickly as expected? What if the future of accounting and business doesn’t even shift so drastically at all? After all, we really cannot predict the future, and we don’t know what the world will look like in 5 years’ time.
Even if the future doesn’t change in the way Galarza expects, Advisory will always be in demand. In general, as business issues become more and more complex, these professional advisors are needed more than ever. With technology as a looming disruptor, businesses need even more help navigating the complexities of the issues they face.
In Deloitte’s fiscal year 2016 Facts and Figures, their Financial Services Advisory practice is receiving a tremendous amount of growth, shooting from 0.8% of growth in 2015 to 8.4% in 2016 (Deloitte). This shows that there is still tremendous growth in the industry today.
There is no better career path than Advisory to give students the opportunity to prepare for the present or the future, whether it is as drastic as Galarza predicted or not.
So, you have the power to adapt to the future. Advisory is the current and future state of business. It is something that is in increasing demand, and you have the opportunity to be a part of that movement.
Therefore, I challenge you to ask yourself: will you adapt your major and your career to the unpredictable changes of the future?
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“EY Advisory Services.” Advisory, Assurance, Tax, Transaction Services – EY – Global, EY, http://www.ey.com/us/en/services/advisory.
“Facts & Figures | Deloitte US.” Deloitte United States, Deloitte, 12 May 2017, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/facts-and-figures.html.
Galarza, Mike. “The Changing Nature of Accounting.” Strategic Finance, Institute of Management Accountants, Inc., 1 Feb. 2017, sfmagazine.com/post-entry/february-2017-the-changing-nature-of-accounting/
Li, Alissa, and Thomas Steen. “Interview for Research Assignment.” 27 July 2017.
Robinson, Ken. “Transcript of ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?”.” Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | TED.com, TED Conferences, LLC, Feb. 2006, http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/transcript.