National accounting network launches tailored MBA

One accounting network has partnered with a university to create a tailored masters business degree (MBA) exclusively for its employees in a bid to combat the skill gap facing the profession.

Walker Wayland has partnered with the University of Southern Queensland to launch a tailored MBA, which has been announced at the network's annual conference in Toowoomba earlier this month.

Paul Hilton, chairman of Walker Wayland Australasia, told Accountants Daily that the decision to develop a tailored MBA for network members came as a response to the disruption facing the accounting profession currently.

“Every industry is going through massive disruption, whether it's digital, economic, or legislative. So how we used to run our business is completely different to the way we need to run them now and in future,” he said.

Mr Hilton said they then assessed what skills accountants now need and set about designing a course that would give students those exact technical and soft skills.

“We looked at the shortcomings of the graduate accountants, and the accounting profession as a whole, and then approached the University of Southern Queensland to see what they could do for our members,” Mr Hilton said.

“We then tailored an MBA, which included technical subjects which made up six of the 12 subjects, and then we tailored the six non-technical or soft skill subjects and specifically picked out subjects in relation to leadership, management, personal development, marketing and strategy.”

Mr Hilton said that after a heavily technical undergraduate degree and association course, accountants often lack the soft skills necessary to develop good client relationships.

“The technical skills, people still need those. But there's only so much people can learn on an undergraduate degree. Then our associations, whether it’s the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the CPA, my opinion is that they don't do enough on the soft skills either,” he said.

“At the end of the day, accountants are professionals. They're only there because of the relationships they develop with their clients, so this is enabling our staff and members to engage better with their clients, customers and staff to develop their own businesses and clients' businesses.”

Mr Hilton said the response from Walker Wayland employees has been positive, and that it is a point of difference when engaging in discussions with prospective member firms.

“Our prospective firms that we've been visiting, they're all very enthusiastic about the MBA because they realise the shortcomings,” Mr Hilton said.

“Sometimes it’s the owner or the director of accounting firms who realise they might need to look at their own skill set.”

 

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