Analytics or FP&A best way into Strategy/dev function?

Hello all, current I work at a F250 manufacturing firm, and am technically in the accounting group but have recently been working on heavy analytics projects. (building applications in Qlikview, similar to Tableau) My ultimate goal is to network my way into the strategy group, currently my Business Unit has one strategy person, so going to have to play my cards right to eventually land the role.
I have been curious recently about moving to another company just to move up to a senior analyst role, but it seems all of the roles available are more FP&A focused, whereas a lot of strategy/biz ops postings want ibanking, consulting, or analytics experience. rhe question I have, is which is a better/easier path to strategy, try and work on these heavy analytics projects (and stay put in my current role), or try and work on more fp&a type work (through asking to get staffed on those projects or attempting a move)? The thought being that both types of work could propel me into a strategy/biz ops rule in the future. Thanks

Comments (8)

Feb 24, 2017

I should also add, plan is to work my way into strategy then potentially use that as a springboard to strategy consulting and then potentially MBA

Feb 24, 2017

Few thoughts:
How would you frame your case for moving into strategy work from both your current job and if you moved into FP&A?

What is your thought process for internal strategy -> strat consulting -> MBA? Generally speaking that's a weird path, and extremely hard to pull off for the following reasons:
1. Most internal strategy roles require prior consulting/banking experience as you mentioned.
2. Laterals to pre-MBA strat consulting roles are extremely rare.
3. Most people in internal strategy roles are there because they do not want to be in consulting any longer.

Something like internal strategy -> MBA -> strat consulting would be more common. Why do you want your MBA? What is your undergrad degree in, accounting?

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Feb 24, 2017
SECfinance:

Few thoughts:How would you frame your case for moving into strategy work from both your current job and if you moved into FP&A?

What is your thought process for internal strategy -> strat consulting -> MBA? Generally speaking that's a weird path, and extremely hard to pull off for the following reasons:1. Most internal strategy roles require prior consulting/banking experience as you mentioned.2. Laterals to pre-MBA strat consulting roles are extremely rare.3. Most people in internal strategy roles are there because they do not want to be in consulting any longer.

Something like internal strategy -> MBA -> strat consulting would be more common. Why do you want your MBA? What is your undergrad degree in, accounting?

My thought was to frame the move as I've currently done the heavy analytical work and can see the big picture business case, and isn't the strategy team basically the liason between business ideas and data? In the sense that CEO/CFO suggests idea and strategy finds/interprets the data for/against the idea and then presents findings based on the analysis and that this process is iterative between the strategy team and senior leadership? Or am I off base here?

My thought was since I'm already in corp fin, and have some relationships with higher ups that know I want to do strategy and think its a viable path that I could network internally to promotion to a strategy role. The current strategy manager at my business unit did a finance rotational program, worked for a year in FP&A, then moved into the strategy role, which inspired my thinking of staying internal and working into the strategy group.

And honestly at this point, I just threw the MBA in there as a thought for advancing my career. Long term end goal is Strategy Director/Finance Director/potentially consulting partner. My thought was I could try both internal strategy role and strategy consulting role and then use MBA to help me advance either higher within internal strategy or strategy consulting role, depending on thoughts on the respective roles.

The internal strategy role at my current company would be the perfect springboard to strategy consulting, right? Otherwise from everything I'm seeing financial analyst -> strategy consulting would be much harder than internal strategy to strategy consulting.

And the moving around between consulting and intenral strategy group was basically for the pay bump and the hope that if I went industry -> consulting ->back to industry or MBA that the pay bump would be better and the work more varied than if I just stayed in an internal strategy role.

Thanks again for the help

Best Response
Feb 24, 2017
StoicHoosier:

My thought was to frame the move as I've currently done the heavy analytical work and can see the big picture business case, and isn't the strategy team basically the liason between business ideas and data? In the sense that CEO/CFO suggests idea and strategy finds/interprets the data for/against the idea and then presents findings based on the analysis and that this process is iterative between the strategy team and senior leadership? Or am I off base here?

My thought was since I'm already in corp fin, and have some relationships with higher ups that know I want to do strategy and think its a viable path that I could network internally to promotion to a strategy role. The current strategy manager at my business unit did a finance rotational program, worked for a year in FP&A, then moved into the strategy role, which inspired my thinking of staying internal and working into the strategy group.

And honestly at this point, I just threw the MBA in there as a thought for advancing my career. Long term end goal is Strategy Director/Finance Director/potentially consulting partner. My thought was I could try both internal strategy role and strategy consulting role and then use MBA to help me advance either higher within internal strategy or strategy consulting role, depending on thoughts on the respective roles.

The internal strategy role at my current company would be the perfect springboard to strategy consulting, right? Otherwise from everything I'm seeing financial analyst -> strategy consulting would be much harder than internal strategy to strategy consulting.

Thanks again for the help

This is helpful context. I'm not sure how the strategy team in your company operates - some are more reactionary as you mentioned, others are more future-looking and involve a lot of market scoping/brainstorming on initiatives. Obviously networking your way in at your current company is your best bet now - most external strategy teams will not even invite you for an interview to make your case with your current experience.

Internal strategy is a good springboard to strategy consulting, yes. But pre-MBA laterals in consulting, especially laterals without prior consulting experience, are rare. So the path looks more like internal strategy -> MBA -> strat consulting, like I mentioned before. A woman I know has gone IB analyst -> internal strategy at a different firm -> MBA -> MBB internship, for example.

Accounting team or FP&A -> strategy consulting without an MBA or prior strategy work isn't likely, correct.

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Feb 24, 2017

I agree with @SECfinance, either your path isn't very well thought out or it's just not clear to me.

It feels to me like you're struggling to find a way to your end goal and so you're taking a circuitous path (in your head). So, can you clarify your end goal?

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Feb 24, 2017

If I'm reading this correctly, you are in accounting or sys dev, not corp fin. Many companies include even their payroll and a/p teams in the corp finance umbrella. Any experienced recruiter/HM will see right through the silly titles.

Chances of you getting directly into the corporate strategy group of a reputable company, even with networking, is extremely slim. I imagine your route will have to be accounting -> FP&A -> strategy -> MBA -> some $ role you haven't figured out yet.

FP&A is very broad. A good FP&A role will encompass both the data aspect as well as storytelling, giving you both credibility and visibility within the company. It's definitely better than being a data monkey without the pay. Even if you fail to move to consulting, FP&A can lead to a great career. Many CFOs are from the FP&A group.

PS: Corp strat sits as a group. If you're saying there's one person in your BU who is a stategy person, they aren't doing corp strat...just very product/business specific strategy. Very different.

Feb 24, 2017

Plot twist: Just talked to my mentor/manager and he said there's a possibility for a sales analyst type role (would this be considered business devlopment?) Which if I'm understanding the above, this could be a good idea, if anything just be in a more strategic role. And to the above, I work in a conglomerate where our corporate strategy group at corporate HQ is like 3 people (for a F250 company) and most of the heavy lifting is done by the business unit (in the case of my business unit being smaller, we only have 1 strategy person, bigger BUs have teams of 5+)

Feb 24, 2017