Venturing into a whole new career

A finance manager with an MBA in Banking and Finance asks how best to switch to a career in ERP.

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Q. I currently work as a finance manager. I did my MBA in Banking and Finance and have over 13 years of experience in finance/accounts/supply chain.

I am considering switching careers to that of an ERP consultant in finance/distribution. If I do so, I will need to join an ERP developer so as to gain the basic knowledge.

My concern is that I have experience only in Excel/Word/PowerPoint and Access. I also have a little knowledge of Oracle Developer and basic knowledge of SQL/PL SQL.

I wish to know the financial worth of becoming an ERP consultant, the number of years of experience required to get a good-paying job in this field, and how much technical knowledge is required to master the ERP profession.

Career advice from Tay Kok Choon, country manager of JobStreet Singapore:
It is encouraging to see people who are prepared to venture beyond their current job scope and try to do something new; that itself is already highly commendable.

The role of a finance manager and the ERP consultant are somewhat different although some of the skills acquired in the current job are applicable to the new role. Very likely, the person will venture into the new role, focusing on the financial aspects and modules of the systems and gradually gathering an understanding on the workings of the entire system.

It is not easy for consultants to isolate themselves within one small area; very often they end up being a business, process and specialized-area consultant all in one.

On the career aspect, my feel is that you need to almost take the attitude of re-starting your career. It requires the energy of a newcomer attacking a new venture.

The role can either be a pre-sales or post-sales consultant. It will be a little easier joining as a post-sales consultant as the nature of the role allows for more preparation time rather than thinking on the feet.

Joining as an ERP developer is not encouraged nor necessary; as it calls for a different acumen. It is sufficient to start with the industry knowledge acquired from the previous roles.

A good ERP consultant is highly valued by the IT industry and it pays well; travelling opportunities are in abundance. In your case, it is good for you to build on your business and process knowledge rather than re-start your whole career from the technical angle.