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Private vs Public politics

So how do you view the politics in the private as compared to the public? 

Great question, made me want to post again. I realize it's been six months, time flies when you don't need blog therapy anymore. On to the question - there's a lot of politics in public and private. On a high level, there's more red tape in public and in private.

Public - The Big 4 firms are big organizations - so it's much harder to cut through and get what you want. If you want to get on a particular engagement or industry, it's not as simple as going through the schedulers. The key is to get on the good side of partners, who can then make it happen. While that's simple enough, the issue is that it's not like there's just one partner..while the partners have a lot of power, there's a more concentrated group of partners that have even more power. Now it's a battle of trying to latch on to the right partner so he or she can win a battle against other partners. That's where true politics come into play - it can be brutal for people on the losing end. This select group of partners always win. And that's the lesson for all of you in the Big 4- it's great that certain partners like you, but you gotta make sure that the right partners like you. Trust me, it matters.

Private - There's a decent amount of politics in Private too, but the one that stands out the most is the politics amongst different groups. While in public, the people in power are the accountants, since we are the revenue-generators. So it's just in-fighting within the revenue generators. In Private, the accountants are the back-office, and not the revenue generators. So it's an uphill battle when fighting against other groups - especially against the revenue-generators, like engineers in software companies, and associates on funds. At the end of the day, while the accounting can get very complex if the front-office gets creative, accounting may have a voice, but the voice is basically - "can you give us a heads up"? Hopefully people in the C-suite have an accounting background, so they can have your back at times. This is a tough pill to swallow. 

At the end of the day, when you look back, there's still a good amount of politics in both fields. My only advice here - work hard, but at the same time gain the trust and backing of people that can make moves, both in public and private. Having that mentor who can influence things and people will go a long way towards making sure you're getting what you want out of your career.


Anonymous said…
First of all, thanks for the post.

I think this is a quite interesting topic. Based my experience, accountants/controllers are "cost-generators" for most of the staff in the company so it is not easy for us to get support from the top ranks. On top of that, once you are an expert in your position in the company, is hard for you to move to other departments, because you are in charge of a hard work that you do well and is not easy for the company to get a replacement with the required experience who wants to join the "long-extra-hours-hell" (closing, budget, forecast, etc.). So, usually your only option to move ahead in your career is waiting for you direct boss to get retired and apply to his/her position together with you four temammates. Is a tough life, ain´t it? :-)

At least, that is how it works in my country.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the posts that you've written thus far. It really is helpful for Accounting students like me. Here's a question. If you could redo it all, fresh out of university with an Accountancy Degree, how would you do it after learning about the industry throughout the years?
Anonymous said…
Great article. I have 2 questions for you.

1) In your experience how much of "getting on a partner's good side" do you attribute to consistently completing quality work versus getting lucky and happening to connect with someone on a more personal level? Did you feel the people receiving the partner's attention were those who deserved it?

2) In private accounting, what do you think is the most important thing someone can do to make sure their voice is considered in the planning stages of a project and not just brought in at the last moment for a "heads-up" as described in your article.

Thank you for your insights.

Zachary Schuricht-Hackett

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