How To Transition To More Lucrative Excel Roles
Earlier today, I was giving some career advice to a student Raymond (name changed), I felt like I should share it since you may benefit from the ideas and approach. He works in a big bank in a role that doesn’t need a lot of Excel but he wants to move on to other Excel heavy roles and ultimately transition in to Project Management (With good reason since Project Management is a very lucrative place to end up). Here’s part of my response, some advice was very specific so I left it out. There’s some solid gold in there, so I recommend reading it all.
Working at [Big Bank – company name left out] is great, not just from a brand perspective but a big company will give you the environment to move around. Bear in mind, your boss will not want you to move around because it’s a headache to replace you, so you need to learn to engineer your moves without your boss being involved then only reveal to your boss when it looks like something will materialise (“Hi John, I’ve had an opportunity from X and wanted to let you know that I am strongly considering it as it’s the right step for my career…”). Excel skills helped me do that and they can for you, so before you think about moving around start making use of your Excel skills by going above and beyond the call of duty.
My understanding from what you said is that day to day you don’t need to use Excel a great deal because your work is largely qualitative, so you do some easy tracking. Now, I imagine you are in a team and there are other members in your team. What kind of overall reporting exists in your department? Look for opportunities to create some solid overall reporting that will be useful MI for decision makers that sit above you. There is always something that can be done, even if you have some central reporting system, often those things don’t cover everything or eventually cease to meet the ever-evolving decision making needs of managers. Perhaps it is specific metrics you are tracking, perhaps you can build reports to capture trends (income, backgrounds, regions etc), perhaps it is a wider reporting on the progress of you and your team (# of apps reviewed per Q). I’m throwing random stuff to trigger some ideas but feel free to run ideas past me.
The key thing is that you need to understand what senior folks in your space will find useful for decision making, it shouldn’t be arbitrary fancy reporting for the sake of it, that can make you look like a child trying to show off his toys. When you can produce work that influences senior folks, you will have their attention.
Getting attention is career collateral that you can cash in later i.e. if you want someone to help you move around in the org.
The idea behind doing a reporting piece is that this will set you up for what you want to do next, i.e. risk/reg reporting. If you can automate your report, even better.
This becomes your ‘portfolio’ then you need to keep your ear to the ground, in a place like [Company Name] there will be a LOT of reporting going on, not necessarily where you want or think and my advice is ideally to pursue teams/departments that will be more prominent over the next 5-10 years such as Regulation. Though don’t worry too much about this (i.e. don’t let it prevent you from taking steps), something likes Risk, Finance, HR are also good places to be, they are support areas, they are timeless and you can’t go wrong.
I gave more specific advice which I won’t put here but you get the idea. There are ways to transition within a company to better roles and having solid Excel skills and using them to add value in a meaningful way can really pry doors open for you.
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