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  • Industry expertise – is it relevant?

  • When my clients are hiring, they often express a preference for someone from the same industry. They assume that the individual will have a much easier time familiarizing themselves with, and contributing to, the needs of the particular business. The same issue is often raised when I am being considered as a consultant or coach.

    I have always believed that for management roles, diversity is much more important than industry expertise. The client can always teach the new employee (or me) about the industry, as they would about the specific business. Of course this does not apply to technical roles that require specific education or experience. However in Finance, Marketing and H.R this is manifestly true.

    Many years ago I attended a comprehensive workshop on management styles which postulated that there are four basic management styles. The most revealing part of the course was the explanation and description that all four styles could be very effective, if properly utilized. There is no one style that is superior to the others. How one manages and applies the characteristics of that style is what determines your effectiveness.

    There have been several recent studies that have shown that companies with diverse boards of directors have better returns than companies with less diverse boards.

    In “The Secret to Putting Together an Insanely Successful Team” Sallie Krawcheck very effectively makes the case for not always picking the best person for the job, as one needs a diverse team. She says “When I have built business teams in the past, I’ve tried to round out the group by including a visionary, a doer, a skeptic, a client advocate and an “historian” as part of the team, to name a few. And I have also worked to include diverse backgrounds, whether acquired (time spent abroad, time spent at competitors) or innate (gender, ethnicity).”

    It is easier to work with a homogeneous team but the ability of that team to contribute to the success and growth of the business is severely compromised.

    If your finance/accounting team is not fulfilling the needs of your business and need guidance, please contact me me at (416) 726-8256 or James@MastermindSolutions.ca

    James Phillipson is a Chartered Accountant and a Principal of Mastermind Solutions Inc. with over thirty years experience in large and small businesses.  He has provided financial counseling to his clients since 1996, often in the role of a Controller or Chief Financial Officer, for both public and private corporate clients.  James has experience in financial roles in a wide variety of businesses and industries.  This includes several large corporations and many medium-sized public and private companies.