Our Guest Mentor:

Brad Eisenhuth is the founder & CEO of The Outperformer, an online career management platform dedicated to the accounting and finance community that provides members with various supports, webinars, 1×1 consulting, mentors, subject matter experts, and others in the community to help them work through career challenges and decisions. And Brad also does a lot of work with organisations enabling their employers to access best-in-class thinking to deliver better results, all through the power of career development.

Brad is based out of Sydney Australia and has over 12 years in recruitment and search, most recently as Director of a performance accounting & finance executive recruitment group. He’s also is a published author of CFgrOw: Staying in the driver’s seat on the path to CFO where he’s analysed the career success and progression of ambitious accounting and finance professionals, discovering those factors that differentiate the best from the rest and used this knowledge to create a system recommended by the Australian Financial Review and other publications.

Brad has also presented as part of the ACCA’s Think Ahead Series as well as other forums for the accounting and finance community.

Key Quotes From the Episode:

“And for a lot of people there’s a lot of frustration pent up in careers, working in environments they’re not particularly happy with, doing jobs that they don’t see value you, they don’t feel rewarded by, waking up in the morning and seeing it just as a job or something they can’t be genuinely passionate about and I could see this pent up energy in a lot of people so writing the book was a way for me to support and engage with the community in a different way and provide some value back.” [05:14]

“A lot of the key challenges and growth areas around the finance function [are] . . . collaboration; influence; design thinking; solving problems with the business and dealing with this whole concept of partnership.” [07:29]

“Everything we do in our education as an accounting & finance professional, doing an accounting qualification and the general foundational skills that we develop they’re now basically moot points, they’re just hygiene factors as we call them. So these hygiene factors no longer differentiate you and are no longer seen as valuable to the business they’re just expected.” [09:04]

“Accountants aren’t really trying to understand the business, if they would only just spend some time in our shoes they would begin to appreciate the things we’re working through and actually be very valuable in some of the challenges we’re working through.” [10:51]

“If you went to every finance professional there will certain strengths that they have and things that are holding them back at an individual level, we see this quite consistently in that every finance professional doesn’t deliver their role in the same way and not everyone has built their career in the same way.” [12:21]

“The first 5, 6, 7, 8 years of a typical accountant’s career they’re rewarded for doing, they’re rewarded for getting things done, the quality of the work the accuracy of the work which is all fantastic and it’s a really important thing to appreciate but it goes back to that old saying what gets you here doesn’t get you there.” [14:03]

“For organisations to say, go and be a good business partner, it’s not that easy. We all know what business partnership looks like, if you go onto LinkedIn there’s a million articles about what it is, but the real challenge is allowing and supporting individuals to go through that journey of change and start adapting their style.” [14:31]

“When we grow up we ride a normal bike, we’ve learned how to ride this bike for a long time and one day all of a sudden someone gives you a bike that says when you turn the handle left the wheel will go right and when you turn the handles right the wheel will go left. Now conceptually that’s a very simple change. There’s not very much else that changes within the bike, the mechanisms and everything else is pretty much the same. Now when people ride this bike they fall off within a metre or two metres, sometimes they can’t even get the first pedal through. And you see this experiment and what it is is your brain’s ability to untrain itself from all of this auto-pilot or automatic thinking we go through which taught us to ride this traditional bike. The same thing occurs with the transition to business partnership when someone gives themselves 6 or 7 months to dedicate to learning to ride this reverse steering bike they can get it, and it takes a little while and they’ll continue to fall off and they’ll graze their knees and they’ll hurt themselves occasionally along the way, but what happens, of course, is that they get comfortable in that new environment, they learn how to ride this reverse steering bike and they ride it almost as well as they rode the previous traditional bike and I think this is the journey we’re all going through in terms of this partnership or business influencer piece because some people they’re already riding that reverse steering bike and they’ve picked it up really quickly but we need to acknowledge that we set up an environment initially that rewards a very different behaviour and now we’re starting to move to a very different world.” [15:15]

“Our ability to be a little bit flexible and adapt to the needs of the business is key.” [19:56]

“A mantra for business partnering is there’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth.” [20:36]

“People say to me all of the time I want to add value in my role, I want to do something that’s valuable, and it’s this buzzword ‘value’ right, I take them back to define value and what is value in an organisation. Now there’s two things that help you understand value, the first is, if I remove that function does it create a problem, if I don’t do it will it make things bad, and if it does that then it is probably valuable, the other question is whether does it get the limelight from others that it requires or that you might appreciate it may not, people may not provide a song and dance and really celebrate that but the important piece is that it’s part of the machine that needs to occur, and to appreciate in your mind that this is really valuable and that you are delivering that piece of work and to tie that to business objectives.” [22:39]

“The second piece is what is the problem you’re solving in your business and how can I contribute to that with the acumen I have, the financial insights, the information I’m able to capture across an organisation and value lies at the intersection of that problem and the solution.” [23:35]

 (Other resources and how to connect with Brad below).

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Key Points From the Episode:

  • 6 key challenges and growth areas in finance that we can develop.
  • What non-finance leaders want from accounting & finance professionals.
  • Shares results into his research on finance business partnering and
  • How a reverse steering bike can help you become a better business partner.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

[03:29] – How a professional sports injury and a friend guided Brad to a new career path.

[05:04] – How he came to write a book on the career of the finance professional.

[06:04] – What made him move away from recruitment to setup The Outperformer.

[05:41] – 6 key challenges and growth areas in finance that we can develop.

[09:04] – Why accounting skills are now considered as hygiene factors for the finance professional.

[09:59] – How non-finance leaders responded when asked what do you want from finance.

[10:40] – Brad shares the experiences of a Head of Marketing’s view on Finance & the creation of value.

[11:24] – How organisational shared purpose and value can help accounting & finance professionals play a key role.

[11:43] – Results of Brad’s research on business partnering skills and time spent on this activity.

  • [12:40] – The problem of infrastructure to free up time
  • [13:04] – The ‘fear’ problem to do what’s necessary
  • [13:25] – Incorrect reward structure to deliver in the right way
  • [13:51] – Lack of early career support around communication & influence
  • [14:31] – Supports to allow for adaptation and change in style

[15:08] – The idea of the reverse steering bike and how it helps you become a better business partner.

[17:13] – Two simple steps to move towards business partnering (understand the grounds you’re playing on and listening to the audience you serve).

[17:31] – The one question that can help you spend time on things that are valuable.

[18:41] – Shares a story about a management accounting team who stopped producing reports.

[21:40] – Answers whether business partnering relevant for all finance functions.

[22:43] – Discusses the buzzword ‘value’ and the two things you can do to help understand it better.

Resources Mentioned:

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