The 3 Pillar Model...by Accountancy Ireland & Barden (Career Guide 2017)

Before you begin to think about the type of role you want, take a step back and look at the wider context of what you do and where you sit in the corporate landscape.

There are three key factors that will define your current position in the corporate landscape. They are: which pillar you work in, what organisational structure you work in and, if relevant, where this structure sits on the supply chain
First up, and at a very high level, the corporate landscape can be broken down into three key pillars:

  • Practice (e.g. a Big 4 or Top 10 firm);
  • Financial services, which includes companies with a financial product or service (e.g. banking, insurance and leasing); and
  • Industry, which includes companies with a non-financial product or service (e.g. pharmaceuticals, food and medical devices).

These three pillars cover the entire corporate world. Where you start within these pillars will dictate to a large degree the job opportunities open to you in the future. Here are some things to keep in mind at this point:

  • It’s easier to move within a pillar; and it’s more difficult to move between pillars;
  • The easiest time to move between pillars is when you are newly qualified; and
  • When moving from practice, the like-with-like concept applies.

Like with like

A fundamental truth in career development is that you will be most likely to make a move to a company or role that has something in common with your more recent company or role. This fundamental truth underpins the Three Pillars Model and we will see it crop up again and again within the career guide. If, for example, you work in the industry pillar, you will be more likely to move to another role within the industry pillar. You will also be less likely to move to a role in the financial services pillar.

A well-worn path that illustrates this process is the recently qualified accountant moving out of practice. In this case, the recently qualified accountant will be more likely to move either within the practice pillar or to the pillar that best represents their client exposure. An audit senior with an industry client base will therefore be more likely to move to either the industry pillar (as opposed to the financial services pillar) or to an industry audit role in the practice pillar.

It’s important to note the use of the terms “more likely” and “less likely” above. Nothing is impossible and we are not saying that your dreams won’t come true – far from it. In reality, however, some career moves are more likely than others. Market forces, supply and demand for talent, and a number of other factors, can soften or harden the barriers between pillars but the fundamental truth of “less likely” or “more likely” will continue to persist.

The ‘like-with-like’ concept also transcends the Three Pillar Model. We will see later how it can be applied to other variables such as organisational structure, position on the supply chain, and primary commercial drivers within industry.

click here to download your copy of Accounting Career Guide 2017 today.

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