5 tips for accounts payable career success

August 15, 2018 Matt Vermeulen

We’re rooting for you, future CFO. You’re setting out on your career path. And to help you get started on the right foot, we’ve got some helpful ideas for you. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But we want you to get the head start you need to rule as a CFO. Here are five tips to help you work towards future success in your career.

1. Stay up to date on industry standards

Superstar accountants are tax mandate buffs. Regulations are always changing, and especially if you’re interested in helping the company expand into foreign markets. If that’s the case, you’ll want to keep up to date on global tax mandates and regulations, so it’s important to stay on top of constantly changing regulations. You might find it helpful to bookmark the IFRS page for international updates and workshops. Don’t forget to do the same with FASB for US regulations. And keep up with trends in AP like the Ardent Partners State of Epayables.

2. Round out your expertise with soft skills

According to a Business Insider survey, “57 percent of business leaders said they believe soft skills are most important.” You can have all the skill in the world with balance sheets and Excel shortcuts, know all the regulations and tax reforms, but you’re only halfway there. It’s just as important to be able to inspire and lead a team to greater success.

If you want to advance, you need to know how to successfully interact with the people outside of your department. You’re in a unique role: you get to talk to other departments, vendors, and external partners. Part of your job is building those relationships to strengthen your company.

That means getting comfortable leading projects, reaching out to others, and polishing up your public speaking skills. Even consider volunteering to write newsletters or industry publications.

Check out our library of resources to learn more about the whole supply chain and ways to improve your company’s AP department. And you can find personal training from a host of agencies, companies, and schools that provide free or affordable classes to hone your skills. Check out a few like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, edX, and Udemy. There are plenty to choose from here: find what you like and learn from it.  

3. Collaborate

Sometimes buzzwords are rubbish, but there’s a reason collaboration is a buzzword. Working cross-departmentally within your organization is a necessary skill in the modern corporate world. This, of course, goes hand in hand with improving your soft skills. You’ll be working with a varied group of personalities, all with potentially competing priorities with competing deadlines. And the people working in those groups have valuable insight from perspectives you might not have seen if you were only working in your own departmental silo. You also have expertise and skills worth sharing. Work to be not just a team player in your department, but across the whole organization. If your company is still processing a ton of paper, become a digital ambassador. Digitizing your AP department will help you collaborate easier across teams. Look at other AP departments from other companies who have found success collaborating and apply the lessons they’ve learned to your situation. Did we mention learn from others? You might also consider finding a mentor.

4. Find a Mentor

What better way to learn the ropes than from someone who’s been there before? And before you despair, you’ve got plenty of options to find one. But before you even start, it helps to know what you’re looking for: what do you want to gain from a mentor? Where do you want to go in your career? What are your values and how do they align with your career goals? Once you know some of these answers, try these tips:

  1. Chances are, you already work with a potential mentor. Find someone whose skills you trust and value. Don’t be a stalker, but prove your worth through your work and build a relationship that will lead to an organic mentor relationship.
  2. Your company may already value mentorship: find out if they have a program already. You probably won’t be able to choose a specific mentor this way, but you’ll have someone ready to help because it’s ingrained into your work culture.
  3. If those options aren’t available, consider looking for a mentor from your professional memberships. The AICPA offers mentorship programs, check them out to see if they offer mentorship programs in your area. And remember, they’re just one example. There are plenty more you can find.

Speaking of professional memberships:

5. Join a professional association

Hook up with a local CPA chapter. Join the AICPA. They’ll have events, meetings, panels, and opportunities to help you grow as a professional. They’ll also have plenty of ways for you to follow steps 1 and 2 from our list. Not to mention you’ll have plenty of opportunities to network and learn from professionals in your field.  

Go get ‘em, tiger

We’re cheering you on, future leader. Remember, take the initiative to seek out these opportunities. You’ll not only build your own knowledge, but you’ll be a greater asset to the organization you’re working with.

You rock. Check out these five reasons we think AP professionals are rock stars and get inspired to go digital.  


About the Author

Matt Vermeulen

Matt Vermeulen writes about B2B commerce for Tradeshift. Whether he's writing about Accounts Payable best practices or debunking AI myths, Matt enjoys making complex topics easy to understand and fun to read.

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