I always love receiving career questions in my inbox from the folks who have signed up for our career kitbag. This recent question really made me stop and think.
The background to the question was that the individual concerned had spent six years in a Big4 before moving out to industry for rwo years. However, he, let’s call him Paulo, was finding that the grass wasn’t necessarily greener in industry and he wasn’t as mentally stretched as he would have liked.
Here was my thoughts to Paulo:
When faced with the multiple challenges thrown up by life in a Big4, taking a move into industry can seem very attractive. After all, your working hours and travelling should reduce; two things which can mean a move into industry is a very family friendly option. Plus, very often salaries in industry can match what your firm was paying.
However, there are two very big differences to a life in industry. Firstly, you have moved from a ‘core’ role to a ‘support’ role. What this means is that the opportunities to move and progress within your new company will be significantly less than if you stayed within practice. Whilst with the right company you will still receive a good level of financial recognition for your skill set, your earnings are unlikely to get to the levels of the senior roles within a practice. This may or may not be a factor in whether you decide to go back to practice.
If you do decide to go back into practice, the question is, are you committed to going for partnership? With five years post qualified experience under your belt, you will slot back in at a manager or senior manager level. No firm will take you on unless they are convinced that you want to build your own client portfolio and head towards partnership. After all, no mid-sized or large firm willingly takes on ‘career managers’.
The two years experience in industry can be invaluable to your future career in practice. After all, you are now a sector specialist and hopefully, have a network within your industry. This network will become the foundation of how you start to win work, if you decide to go back into practice.
The questions to be answer are thus:
- Do the benefits of being in industry outweigh the downsides?
- Is it your current role in industry that is the problem, or could you get the mental stretch you need by finding a different role in industry?
- If you go back into practice, are you committed to going onto partnership track?
How would you advise Paulo?
Written by Heather Townsend. I help professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. I am the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and the author of the award-winning and bestselling book on Networking, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘.
To find out whether I can help you read ‘is this you‘