Neil Johnson, journalist

The career of a modern finance professional can travel along paths that don’t always resemble traditional accounting and finance. And while they may not be strictly finance roles, they are careers that sit at the forefront of the profession’s evolution and at the apex of finance and technology.

One such path is global education manager at an accounting software company, a role that focuses on educating its business and practice customers on how best to integrate and use the technology.

‘Education is an important part of showing the value of our platform and how cloud accounting can empower businesses to grow, be secure online and become environmentally sustainable,’ says Helen Barraclough FCCA, global education manager for customer success at Xero.

The role

The global education function creates content in various formats such as e-learning, video and webinar delivery. It involves working closely with education and content leaders, and other stakeholders around the world, to create and deliver on the education and content strategy.

As it is a role with a global view, the team you’d manage would be based worldwide. The global education manager supports teams by helping them to manage any difficulties they face with their projects, and ensuring that the team produces high-quality content that meets the needs of global customers.

Key skills

A close understanding of accountancy and business is important in being able to understand and communicate with your customer base. ‘I’ve leant on my knowledge as an accountant on many occasions during my time in this role, and hold this skill in high regard,’ Barraclough says.

People and project management skills are crucial and can be considered intertwined. ‘Working with a team in many locations can add complexities as a people manager,’ Barraclough says. ‘It requires a high level of trust in your team. Without that, it can foster an uncomfortable environment for the team as a whole, not just you and that particular employee.’

It should go without saying, but a high level of ease with new technology is vital, and not just to understand the products and then to provide education about them, but also to manage dispersed teams, for which working in the cloud and via video calls will be the norm. You’ll also need to be proficient in the technology used for creating and communicating educational content, such as webinars, video and e-learning.

Getting in and getting on

While it is possible to come into this role from outside finance and education, coming from one or the other, or even both, will improve your chances. Therefore, the ACCA Qualification will be highly regarded, as will experience of education.

A further attractive quality would be leadership experience, so the role would likely suit professionals with management experience, particularly with globally dispersed teams.

Such a role can lead to more senior global project management positions or with responsibilities larger in scope either within the sector or beyond. Alternatively, education management skills are also relevant across various industries.