Learning & Development

Leveraging Lunch and Learns to Boost Analytics Skills

“Data, data everywhere and not a thought to think” is a quote that has been attributed to John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University. It’s a sentiment that is increasingly apt. We are surrounded by data of all kinds these days—so much data that making sense of them can be increasingly difficult.

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“Given that college graduates are largely not equipped with higher-level analysis and business strategy abilities, entry-level professionals often do not enter the finance and accounting fields with the skills to confront the profession’s changing landscape,” says Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, president and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in Montvale, New Jersey.

Offering Training the Way They Like It

James Kaylor is director of sales analysis with Perdue Farms. Through an internal survey, his team found that although associates wanted to pursue credentials to advance their careers, they often struggled to find the time to do so. Kaylor created a series of lunch-and-learn webinars, integrating certification study into employees’ daily routines.

Now in its fourth year, the program addresses the fact that professionals do not always have the time or resources to take on additional education and training outside the office.  

Over the years, Perdue Farms has instilled a culture that values investment in its employees by devoting resources to upskilling, given the increased attention to technology and strategy within the finance and accounting spheres.

Training Pays Off

“As companies invest in continuing education and certification programs, employees will further invest in their careers and their employers,” says Kaylor. “Companies that encourage these initiatives for their employees should expect greater productivity and performance.”

Kaylor points to a survey conducted by IMA that found professional certification, followed by taking individual courses to develop specific skills, was considered the most effective avenue for preparing finance and accounting staff for a rapidly changing business environment.

The results of the survey indicate that the greater an organization emphasizes and supports professional certification for its employees, the more effective its finance and accounting function is likely to be.  

The ability to fill skills gaps internally—even for recent college graduates—can be positively impacted by technology, as Perdue’s experiences clearly indicate. What different approaches might you take to make it easier, more convenient, and more efficient for employees to maintain, retain, or retrain in areas of importance to them and your organization?