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September 27, 2023

Left public early: how do I make up for it later on?

Long story short: Started out in public at PwC three years ago (audit-financial services), ok first year but got bad review from busy season senior (had a contentious relationship, got shafted a bit) ended up on a PIP. Coach thought it was BS put me on some good jobs, got rave reviews, got off the PIP by the end of the summer and ended up "acting senior" on a job to start second busy season (did 12/31, 6/30 and 9/30 already).  

Just before starting the engagement everyone I had networked with bailed (coach, managers that I worked for, seniors etc.). Literally only knew like 3 people left at the company. Between that and the PIP, I decided to bail. Moved to London, got a job as a finance manager in industry. 

Takes 3 years to get licensed in the UK and I managed to keep the PIP under wraps, so I managed to fail upwards since I got credit for 3 years of work just for being a CPA (essenitally assumed I made senior). After a year there I got poached to be a financial controller for north america at a medium sized global retail company. 

Amazing job, basically doubled salary from public (no bonus though), and really content for the moment. That being said next step up is CFO and we are currently looking for a new one with the search criteria being "Former Big 4 manager, preferably with industry experience". 

By no means am I thinking I have CFO in my near future, but the search criteria spooked me a bit that I might have put a ceiling on my future by bailing from public so early. I have no interest in going back to public, but I want to do something at this point to start making myself more appealing and able to compete down the lines with my counterparts who stuck it out in public at least to senior if not manager. 

I've thought about business school, but it's too expensive if I don't have am concrete plan on how to use the degree. Thougth about CFA, but again not interested enough to commit to that route. Trying to expand my current role to taking on more operations type tasks to grow my skillset, but feel I need to do more.  

Any advice from those who left public early as to how to best keep adding to the resume to avoid being at a disadvantage as I go forward with my career?  

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