Lessons in career and business development during times of disruption

Combined disruptions of the pandemic and rapid technological change have made career development more challenging for forensic and valuation services (FVS) professionals.

Karolina Calhoun, CPA/ABV/CFF, vice president at Mercer Capital, a valuation and financial consulting firm, and Hubert Klein, CPA/ABV/CFF, CGMA, partner with accounting firm Eisner Advisory Group LLC, will offer their best practices and tips for career and business development during their session at the upcoming AICPA & CIMA Forensic & Valuation Services Conference.

“We’ve certainly been in a time of change, and not just related to the pandemic,” Calhoun said. “We want to cater this session to how career and business development has changed in this time of disruption and expedited technological advancement.”

If you’re an FVS professional struggling to navigate career development during this time of constant change, here are a few key takeaways from Calhoun and Klein.

Technology enables you to expand your potential market. When the pandemic forced many FVS professionals to operate virtually, one unexpected upside was that technology enabled many people to expand their potential client base, according to Calhoun.

“Clients are seeking out subject-matter experts and looking beyond their regional markets, and a virtual environment actually makes us more promotable,” she said.

Both Calhoun and Klein work for national firms and have been having increased interactions with people outside their regions over the past two years. If you’re a subject-matter expert, consider how you might be able to leverage technology to expand your geographical reach.

Now might be the time to rethink your career development plan. A career development plan that might have made sense two years ago may be less effective.

“You need to be able to embrace change, adapt, and realize that your five-year plan may need to change a little bit because the world has changed,” Calhoun said.

Interpersonal skills, flexibility, understanding of new technologies, and adaptability are more important than ever, according to Calhoun, and your development plan should incorporate the skills that will be necessary for thriving in continuous disruption. For example, Calhoun has leveraged the hours spent on Zoom and presenting at virtual conferences to improve her public-speaking skills, watching and critiquing her presentations to pinpoint areas for enhancement.

It still comes down to relationships. No matter how much the industry changes, the ability to foster and maintain professional relationships will remain essential.

Even as in-person meetings become possible again, virtual interactions will almost certainly continue to be a key component of networking and client relations.

“We have to actually do things a bit differently than just shaking hands at a professional organization meeting, because some places are just doing things differently now,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun encourages FVS professionals to prioritize relationships and adapt to suit the preferences of individual clients and colleagues. Some cases might call for an in-person meeting, while others might call for a virtual discussion or phone conversation.

Personal branding is more important than ever. Another key takeaway of their session is the importance of getting comfortable with personal branding and marketing.

“Personal branding is still really important, especially in our industry,” Calhoun said. “A lot of us work in litigation and testify, so even though someone might be hiring a firm, they’re actually also hiring an individual.”

Calhoun pointed out that there are so many possibilities for personal branding right now that are just a click away because of all the technological advancements in recent years. She encourages people to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, develop essential skills, and learn to be comfortable getting out of their comfort zone. Some ways to develop your personal brand include writing articles on LinkedIn, speaking as a subject-matter expert on a podcast or at a conference, or even just sharing important industry developments on social media.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how to navigate business and career development during times of disruption, tune in for Calhoun and Klein’s session on Nov. 8.

“This is an opportunity for us as a profession to come together and exchange general best practices, think about what the next roadblocks will be, and how we can hopefully overcome those together,” Calhoun said.

Hannah Pitstick is a freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Sabine Vollmer, a JofA senior editor, at [email protected].