Barden Three Pillar Model

The Barden Career Guide Blog Series...First Up...The Three Pillars

Looking to take control of your career and professional future? Are you working towards your ideal job?

Most people we meet are career aware, but few are career informed. On top of that many don’t have access to (or don’t know where to find) THE BEST tools to achieve their career goals.

The Barden Career Guide Blog Series is a collection of short and practical career guides for accountancy and tax professionals. We developed these in partnership with Accountancy Ireland, specifically for accountants. They are designed to help you make more informed decisions about your career, and ultimately achieve your career goals!

Each week we’ll issue a new blog, introducing a different lens through which to assess both yourself and the market (internally or externally) in the context of your professional career.

The first we’re going to look at is the 3 Pillars Model.

Three Key Pillars

Barden Three Pillar Model

Let’s look at each individually and consider how, when taken together, they can give you a 3D picture of your starting point. At a very high level, the corporate landscape can be broken down into three key pillars:

  1. Practice (e.g. a Big 4or Top 10 firm);
  2. Financial services, which includes companies with a financial product or service (e.g. banking, insurance and leasing); and
  3. 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 (see page seven).

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. 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.

Nothing is impossible…

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 “morel likely” will continue to persist.

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

Want more?

Curious about how you can accelerate your career planning? Get in touch with our expert accounting and tax recruitment team today at who will gladly meet your for a coffee and chat, and who are ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice, along with cutting edge market insights.

Can’t wait until next week for the next edition of the Barden Career Guide Blog Series? Then check out the Publications section on for more of THE BEST career tools out there.




At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there!

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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