Corner the career you want

Have a goal but don’t set a rigid plan or try to follow someone else’s path.

IKEA’s CFO has always been a man with a plan.

In 2012, Aaron Musca CPA was named one of 40 Young Business Leaders in the inaugural INTHEBLACK Young Business Leaders list.

Transitioning from a role as senior commercial manager – group procurement at Coca-Cola Amatil, and settling into his latest position as CFO of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA in Australia, Musca was pursuing a career that he had long planned.

"I had a pretty clear idea of where I wanted to be and what type of role I wanted to work towards," Musca says, adding that his ultimate goal ways always to become a CFO.

Two years into such a role, Musca's responsibilities have already evolved, with the 36-year-old now CFO of IKEA in the UK.

Before that, says Musca, "I spent a lot of time travelling to Europe and Asia to connect with different parts of the business in corporate functions and throughout the supply chain.

“I got to the point where I would run out of movies to watch during flights and looked forward to the new calendar month because it meant there would be a couple of new films available!"

That's no longer an issue, with most of his flights in Europe so brief that the descent follows a quick beverage service.

"It's a welcome change," he says.

Career planning

So, what does it take to become the CFO of a global retail behemoth? For Musca, it has been all about having a clear vision of where he wanted to be, and what he had to do to get there.

"I started my career in banking but left to join Coca-Cola Amatil with a plan to work towards a CFO position,” he says.

“There was no timeframe, but I had a view on what skills I already had and where I needed to develop."

Musca knew that a professional accounting qualification would help realise his ambitions, so he enrolled in university to build on his Finance and Banking degree and secure the pre-requisites for the CPA Program.

Role reversal: Musca was part of this year's evaluating panel.

Role reversal: Musca was part of this year's evaluating panel.

During this time, Musca moved through a series of finance-based positions at Coca-Cola Amatil, gaining the experience necessary to become a CFO.

"I held a range of finance-based roles [that] provided exposure to commercial analysis, financial accounting, procurement, treasury, business planning, asset valuation, balance sheet management, sales and supply chain – all elements I considered important for a CFO's experience."

But it was getting the role as CFO at IKEA in Australia that Musca deems his "big break".

"It provided me with challenges and opportunities I never expected," he says. "It was one of the most enjoyable positions I have ever held."

Of course, the journey hasn't been without hurdles.

"There are experiences I should probably have handled differently," Musca admits.

"[But] I'm happy where I am and given all my choices – both good and bad – have led me here, I can't class them as mistakes."

"I think, as long as you learn from [them], even the biggest 'mistakes' are worthwhile."

One piece of advice

"Do your best at every task.  Many people excel at the things they love but falter in other areas. The ones who stand out are those who give 100 per cent at all they do."

Musca's 5 tips to get ahead

  1. Have a goal but don’t set a rigid plan or try to follow someone else’s path, otherwise you might miss out on great opportunities.
  2. When considering your next role, think about the opportunities it will provide and how it will further your career.

  3. Choose good mentors and seek good counsel. Remember, no one has all the answers, so ultimately you will need to make your own decisions.

  4. It’s not all about you and what you want – you need to contribute to the business.    

  5. Back yourself. If you don’t, why should anyone else?

Aaron Musca was a panellist at INTHEBLACK’S 2014 Young Business Leaders luncheon.

Related: Do your skills measure up? Assess yourself with CPA Australia's Career Guidance System.

October 2021
October 2021

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