A career path is the series of jobs or roles you have as you progress toward your ultimate career goal. It’s also about the skills and education you acquire to help you succeed in your chosen career.
For example, let’s say your ultimate goal is to become CFO of a Fortune 500 company. You may choose to pursue an MBA to widen your perspective on all aspects of business, and you would want to hone up on your leadership and communication skills, both of which are critical to success in this role, in addition to the necessary technical skills.
It's important to note that there is not one perfect path. Your career path could take you through multiple detours, and while some people choose the interstate to get to their career goal, others choose the scenic route. Everyone’s career path is as unique as they are.
Factors to consider in a career path
There are many considerations when plotting your career path, including lifestyle and interests. Other key considerations include:
- Talents and skills. Different roles emphasize different skill sets. Know where your aptitude lies and consider how a role can help you build on your strengths.
- Values. Knowing what you value (e.g., authenticity, honesty, diversity, connectedness, environmentalism) can help you identify organizations that share your values.
- Personality. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you prefer a fast-paced environment, or do you prefer to do meticulous work on long-term projects? Understanding what motivates you to complete tasks — and what jobs provide conditions where your personality can thrive — is very important to your happiness and success.
- Financial goals. What are your short-term and long-term financial goals? The career you choose, and the path you choose, can hold vastly different earning potentials. How much can you afford to invest in your education? And what salary will you then need to repay loans (if you have to borrow) and maintain the lifestyle you desire?
Examples of treasury and finance career paths
There are many directions your career can take in treasury and FP&A. The following are some examples of career paths taken by treasury and finance professionals.
EXAMPLE #1: FP&A
Dream Job: CFO
Starting Point: Bachelor’s in Finance, Accounting and Business Administration
- Worked for 3+ years in management consulting.
- Graduated with MBA.
- Promoted to Senior Financial Analyst.
- Promoted to Treasurer.
- Promoted to Deputy Executive Director (VP) of Finance.
- Graduated from CFO Accelerator program.
- Promoted to CFO.
EXAMPLE #2: FP&A
Dream Job: Engineer
Starting Point: Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Worked for 3 years in engineering.
New Dream Job: CFO or COO
- Moved to a new role within the same company as Value Added Platform Manager.
- Took a new job as Project Manager.
- Completed online finance courses.
- Took a new job as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Mgt.
- Became Senior Manager - Financial Planning & Analysis.
- Became Senior Manager - Strategy and Business Analysis.
- Graduated with MBA and Leadership Certificate.
EXAMPLE #3: TREASURY
Dream Job: Vice President of Treasury
Starting Point: Bachelor’s in International Studies
- Graduated with MBA.
- Worked for 5+ years in financial reporting and capital markets.
- Promoted to Manager, Corporate FP&A.
- Promoted to Director, Corporate FP&A.
- Promoted to Senior Director, Assistant Treasurer.
- Promoted to Vice President of Finance & Treasurer.
- Promoted to Vice President of Treasury.
EXAMPLE #4: TREASURY
Dream Job: Treasury Manager, Fortune 500 Company
Starting Point: Bachelor’s in Economics
- Interned in finance for 2+ years.
- Worked for 4 years in financial analysis and portfolio management.
- Took an Advanced Financial Accounting course.
- Promoted to Senior Treasury Analyst.
- Graduated with MBA.
- Promoted to Global Treasury Manager.
- Promoted to Senior Accounting Manager.
- Promoted to Treasury Manager of Fortune 500 company.
Next steps on your career path
As you plot your career path, it’s important to ensure you’re able to pivot quickly. Always be looking to add or develop skills and gain experience. Know that at times you may have to pause and reevaluate as you learn more about the industry — and yourself.
Here are six steps to help you think about your career path:
STEP 1: Map it out. Starting from the top (your dream job) down (where you are now), create a detailed roadmap of how you’ll get there including roles, education, certificates and experience. And always allow yourself to move laterally to expand your expertise.
STEP 2: List the skills, experience and training you’ll need. Now that you have a list of roles that interest you, what skills, experience and training will you need to attain each of those roles? What are the minimum qualifications? Desirable qualifications? Consider additional skills that may increase your chances of advancing quickly.
STEP 3: Do your homework. Set aside time each day to read news, books and blogs related to your field. For a behind-the-scenes look at your dream job, consider reaching out to someone currently in the role you’re interested in for an informational interview.
STEP 4: Expand your knowledge and skill set. Go for that advanced degree, take advanced courses or earn a professional certification. Be sure to ask your managers along the way for feedback as well and take the initiative to work on anything they suggest could be improved, whether it’s practical or soft skills. Also, look into getting a mentor. Mentors can be a tremendous asset, teaching you needed skills and serving as a source of support and knowledge as you progress in your career.
STEP 5: Set goals. Make them attainable. Set small goals as well as larger ones so you’re always progressing toward your dream job. For example, it might be a goal to learn how to use a certain TMS or take a course in leadership.
STEP 6: Network. One of the best things you can do for your career is networking. Getting to know people in your company and field can be a tremendous asset. One way to build meaningful relationships is to offer to help a colleague with a problem or to ask for help or advice from someone you want to get to know better.
Your career path is not set in stone — and it doesn’t have to look exactly like someone else’s in order to attain the same job. Remember to be flexible. Good things can come from a variety of directions. Keep an open mind and growth mindset, and you are sure to enjoy a successful career.
Get more advice on how to create a career plan, expand your professional network and gain skills to prepare for the future. Check out the AFP Guide to Career Pathing.