CATALYST Issue 3 - Page 20

S Soundbites | Catalyst From ‘T-shaped’ to ‘poly-technic’ professionals: developing the ‘many-skilled’ advisers of the future F or those seeking to acquire and manage talent in the global world of professional services, the context is increasingly challenging. There has been a fundamental shift in what represents value to clients – in terms of the nature of the professional service itself and how it is delivered. Disruption and change, driven by increasing client demands of ‘more for less’, has led to new types of service providers entering the market, meaning greater competition and price pressure. There has also been a reinvention of the very nature of the traditional professional service firm, with a ‘blurring’ of the boundaries between the different types of enterprise. In light of this, Saïd Business School carried out practitioner research over the past year with partner organisation Meridian West to consider the talent management impact for the sector, exploring which talent strategies will lead to competitive advantage. Career pathways With firms evolving their business structures, career journeys are becoming less linear. New career pathways are opening up; for example, with firms offering moves into new technology. In other words, we’re starting to see career lattice-style pathways with 20 more optionality – coming at a good time to address the next generation’s desire for varied career destinations. New mindsets With these new pathways come needs for new skill sets and mindsets. Clients see ‘value’ in the future coming from advisers who deliver more than the pure technical expertise and knowledge often accessed at the press of a button. Instead, clients see ‘great’ advisers as those who spot global industry trends, partner and collaborate around complex business problems, who are data aware, and know how technology can drive efficiency. Clients want advisers who are curious and problem solve, possessing coaching skill sets of ‘asking’ as well as ‘telling’, especially as their business challenges no longer have ready-made answers. This represents a shift: away from the old ‘T-shaped’ career pathways, with early phases developing deep expertise before a later expansion of focus, to a ‘poly-technic’ or ‘many-skilled’ professional, whose career, mindset and skill set are broader from the outset. To add client value, future professionals must see their identity as more fluid: less defined by their technical expertise, open to moving through a number of career roles and, to flourish in these different roles, committed ongoing learners. A board’s talent ‘to-do list’ should include three key actions. First, build your talent agenda around gaining intelligence on future, value-added skill-sets: from client feedback and areas of the firm focusing on the ‘far future’. Second, re-focus learning and development teams on ‘curating’ rich learning resources to help staff through lattice career transitions. Third, focus your firm’s development activity on experiential ‘ learning by doing ’ opportunities which will not only engage staff, but also build the agile mindsets and skill sets needed in a rapidly changing marketplace. A future career journey for professionals 'Markets and industry strategy' advisory group Phase F Nigel Spencer is senior client director at Saïd Business School, specialising in leadership development within the professional service sector. Phase E Client solutions centre Phase D Management experience Phase C Client-knowledge tools development Data analytics team Practice area and expertise development Phase B Phase A Facilitating client discussions Degree 'apprenticeship' including time in the firm