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The L&D dynamics within the Finance Function

In this ever-changing world of business, the only constant has been the need to upskill and stay relevant with the times. Regardless of the team you belong to, every functional area has undergone automation and innovation. Right from book-keeping to business finance.

It’s no wonder then that the “Learning and Development” function has become more strategic, collaborative, and influential than ever. L&D leaders have had to become deeply integrated with their organization’s strategy and core talent processes. At every step, they understand the ability of the workforce to adapt to learn effectively, at scale and at speed.

Changing Role of the L&D head honcho

Typically, the company’s L&D leaders oversaw organising and delivering training programs. They were responsible for developing a comprehensive strategy for the business and its personnel. But ever since the advent of the internet and the speed of innovations it brought about to the learning journey, digital trainings began to be introduced as cost-effective and scalable alternatives to traditional classroom trainings. However, screen fatigue is also a very real problem.  

We reached out to Narendranath Nair, co-founder of Naren Nair Consulting P. Ltd. and former GM Finance & Head of L&D Initiatives at Finance at Wipro, to hear his thoughts on the changing landscape of L&D. He said,As organizations continue to assess and adopt new learning methods, there is a shift in approach from short-term classroom course delivery to a longer-term focus on skill development and the development of emerging leaders. Finance professionals expect a holistic journey spanning multiple disciplines and areas of expertise; regardless of the mode of delivery – online or offline!”

So Naren is clearly also in agreement with us about things changing at a fast pace when it comes to L&D initiatives. Food for thought – As a finance professional, do you aspire to be the next Head of Imagination or Chief Envisioning Officer? Don’t laugh – those are real job titles!

Linking Learning to Strategy

Determining the interplay of learning initiatives to strategy is difficult. So how do champions of L&D in organisations achieve the appropriate link?

We asked Muzameer Soudagar for his insights on this topic. He’s the General Manager of Learning and Development at Narayana Health Group and has over 16 years of vocational experience in driving strategic learning, functional capability development, and change management. 

He said, “When it comes to connecting learning with the strategic direction of the company, the focus needs to be on organizational performance, human capital development, organizational productivity, talent management, and succession management. Since ROI in learning initiatives is key, we demand a measurable return from learning programs, which need to have a specific business objective. These objectives are business needs of the organisation – which every function needs to be aligned with. In case of gaps, the L&D function steps in to make sure every stakeholder is aligned with the strategic direction of the company.”

The cost of an Unprepared Workforce:

Technology is changing by leaps and bounds, and every finance professional is feeling the effect of innovation and technology on their work area – this makes it imperative for them to constantly upskill themselves. If organisations do not provide the right learning initiatives at the right time to the right employee group, the workforce may be unprepared to rise to new opportunities in their domain.

Seeking a solution to this challenge, we approached Nithiyapriya Krishnan, Head – Corporate MIS & CFO, EMEA at Virtusa (CA, CS, Green belt in Six Sigma) having experience of more than 20 years in corporate finance and FP&A who said, “When it comes to improving your company’s bottom line, the basic thing, every L&D team should do is to keep up with the emerging technology. This will not only boost the productivity of your finance team but also reduce their training costs in the future. Incremental steps to upskill employees and addressing imminent challenges proactively is always better than finding yourself in a lurch a couple of years down the line! We’re also very mindful of keeping our employees’ aspirations first.”

ROI: Importance of measuring L&D effectiveness

Unlike other areas of business, L&D (very famously) doesn’t have a standardized industry framework to measure the success metrics. As a result, L&D leaders often struggle to quantify the benefits of investing in learning initiatives and employee development programs.

Anuradha Mishra – Senior VP – Talent Learning & Inclusion Leader at Marsh McLennan, with a rich experience of more than 15 years of heading Talent Management and L&D at Marsh McLennan, says, ”It can be difficult to measure and prove learning and development ROI – especially for behavioural competencies/skills which have a high gestation cycle to show actual results at work. However, taking a modern approach to learning could help you evaluate them better. Each finance training programme is different from the others and can be quantified in suitable measures, as long as you’re clear about the tangible learning outcomes and how it’s going to help your employees develop themselves for future roles – business outcomes vs. learning outcomes.”
Wise words to live by, indeed.

Identifying and closing the talent gap: A real problem area for L&D leaders

Ask any senior talent executive and they’ll tell you that tracking the impact and tangible outcomes of any training activity is an important, albeit difficult activity. Learning is an ongoing process, and tracking its impact will help identify what’s working and what isn’t so that leaders can drive real change and lasting progress for their organization and employees.

Another interesting factoid that caught our attention was – According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 64% of L&D professionals said that reskilling the current workforce to fill skills gaps is an urgent priority. Was this also the case for finance professionals?

The talent gap is nothing but the gap between the promise of developing people’s potential and the stark reality that the promise is not fulfilled. So we owe it to our employees to continuously strive to equip them with the skills they need to excel at their job. Organisations must establish analytical processes to help monitor these gaps, and we work with companies to help them upskill their employees to bridge the talent gap.

At Contetra, we work with CFOs and senior finance leaders across the world and help them get the competitive advantage they need – whether it’s creating financial statements that make more sense for a global world or practical trainings that enable the L&D objectives of companies by equipping the participants with translatable real-world skills (successfully undertaken for the Tata group, Godrej group and multiple Fortune 500 companies).

We hope you found this to be an insightful read. Follow our CEO and CFO on LinkedIn for more content about #internationalGAAP #IFRS #BusinessFinance #FPA #FinanceStrategy and more!

4 Comments

  • Rakesh verma

    Thanks for sharing this. Was a good read

  • Vedika

    I agree! L&D initiatives are few and far between for the finance team with the issue being demonstrating ROI. Particularly agree with Muzameer's views.

  • ramakrishnan

    Thanks for mailing this article.
    In India Wipro is one organization where there is heavy emphasis and budget allocation as well on learning and upskilling of employees. Other organizations dont allot much budget to learning and upskilling employees. Since there is no organization side initiative, employees also loose the motivation to pursue further education along with their career.

  • Aisha Warren

    Fascinating insights, thank you for sharing. The biggest roadblock to L&D initiatives was the "ROI" factor. Good to see it being addressed in such a strategic manner!

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