Business acumen leads to opportunities
WITH MALATI MARLENE SHINAZY
MED, VOLUNTEER WITH THE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT HAWAII CHAPTER, STRATEGIC CONSULTANT AND FACILITATOR WITH PACIFIC LEADERSHIP CONSULTANTS IN HAWAII
Aspiring business leaders face unique challenges. Technical expertise is needed to do well in most mid-level positions, but if you want to move your career to higher levels, you need more than technical strength. Improving your business acumen can foster the perception that you are a true business partner, ready for promotion to higher ranks in your organization.
Q: What is business acumen?
A: Business acumen used to be called “business smarts.” It is the understanding of how a “business” achieves its goals and objectives. It includes understanding the broader system in which the business operates and how internal roles fit together to meet the company’s goals. Among the skills needed for business acumen are: financial literacy, industry knowledge, economic awareness, sales and marketing, and the ability to assess risks.
Q: I’m in marketing, why do I need to know about accounting?
A: If you are an early or mid-level marketing professional, you can improve you career opportunities by adding a deeper understanding of the organization’s business goals and external business environment to your marketing skills. Whether you work in a for-profit company or a nonprofit organization, understanding how your organization fits within the context of wider economic conditions and the competition will help you make stronger marketing recommendations. Also, understanding your organization’s market share is important business data for marketing professionals.
Q: I work in government, so this doesn’t apply to me, right?
A: Improving business acumen can augment the tool kit of most aspiring executives, no matter where you work. As in other sectors, government employees are more likely to be promoted, or more marketable for their next job, if they understand the bigger picture, such as budget constraints and opportunities within their department, division and the government as a whole. A good place to start honing your business expertise is by recognizing not only your role, but also the role of others, in context of the overall organizational mission. Pay close attention to the challenges your co-workers, colleagues and supervisors are facing, and ask questions when you can.