Armanino Blog

Not Just Lip Service: When It Comes to Speaking an Industry’s Language, We Certify Employees’ Knowledge

October 13, 2021

As we’ve grown, we’ve realized through conversations with one another that we have deep industry knowledge in a number of niches, thanks to countless team members who have experience working in companies in these fields and serving clients in these sectors. We saw an opportunity to share this knowledge and experience with everyone at the firm to help us better serve clients and allow each member of our team to design a specialized career path.

Armanino’s new Industry Edge certificate program was created to provide external validation to our clients and others of the knowledge and expertise of our people. Industry Edge is a self-led e-learning program that allows our employees to become experts in the industries we serve by learning from our own experts within the firm. The program not only sets us apart from other firms but also enables every team member to build their own brand as a trusted client advisor in the industries they serve.

We sat down with some team members who helped design and build the program to learn more about its benefits to our clients and our people.

Why We Developed Industry Edge

Industry Edge comes from our commitment to our clients and our investment in helping our people grow. Kelly Gascoigne, a senior manager in Learning and Development who helped create the program, explained that Industry Edge is designed to allow Armanino’s experts to walk into a client’s office and essentially put together a proposal based on the situation they find and solutions they know about for those particular challenges. Industry Edge helps our people, no matter their previous level of experience with a type of client, better connect with our clients’ realities, operations and challenges to provide better solutions and help them get to where they want to be.

With a deeper understanding of a client’s industry, our people can help lessen the client’s burden of bringing team members up to speed when working together to solve everyday problems. Our Chief People Officer, Carol Ann Nash, was deeply involved in organizing Industry Edge and explained that we can save clients time by getting to the heart of their problems faster. When we truly understand what they’re going through, we’re fulfilling our role as trusted advisors and partners.

Three Tiers of Industry Certification

Industry Edge currently focuses on the ins and outs of five different industries: technology, nonprofit, real estate, healthcare and cannabis. We’ve not only served most of these industries for decades, we also have many team members with experience working in them.

Focusing on these industries means we identified significant real-world client experience, firsthand experience and knowledge that was ripe for sharing with anyone at Armanino, no matter whether they’re working in consulting, tax, advisory services or even operations. Our Learning & Development team worked to develop a curriculum that draws upon this expertise and shares it in a way that allows participants to become experts in their own right.

To demonstrate that industry expertise is learned and involves growth and interaction, as well as hands-on client experience, we created different tiers of understanding and mastery, reflected in three tiers of Industry Edge credentials. Each has its own digital badge, which we issue to participants who complete that level.

Tier one is the Practitioner level, where our people learn the foundational knowledge of the industry, from regulations to unique practices that define the way companies in that sector do business. Completing this portion of the course, which requires around five hours of studying, signifies in-depth understanding of how our clients operate, what types of products they create and the types of unique challenges they face.

Tier two is the Specialist level, where team members build on the foundational knowledge, and the curriculum becomes much more technical. At this stage, we decided to introduce the support of an industry mentor, enabling our people to work on client engagements in the industry they’re studying to gain hands-on experience. This component of Industry Edge encourages the type of knowledge-sharing that allows us to truly understand our clients and their day-to-day operations and inner workings.

At the Expert level, our people have the opportunity to experience an interactive, client-focused curriculum that builds on prior knowledge and then applies it to real client engagements.

What the Industry Edge Experience Is Like

Larkin McGowan, a marketing manager in the Field Support department, shared her experience earning her Technology Practitioner badge. She found that the e-learning program was interactive, engaging and offered different styles of learning that allowed her to grasp new material. After receiving her digital Practitioner badge, Larkin showcased it via her LinkedIn page, letting clients, colleagues and connections know she’s focused on the technology industry’s needs and operations.

As the program grows and Armanino begins to ramp up participation in Industry Edge, others are also sharing their badges on Facebook. Eventually, we’ll see Industry Edge credentials across all our client-facing materials, from proposals to email signatures and bios on our website. Industry Edge is giving Armanino’s people the confidence to gain familiarity with clients and understand their needs, as well as to focus on areas of specialization and further their careers.

Looking to the Future of Industry Edge

Our badging program launched in September, and more than 30 employees have already taken charge of their development and earned their Practitioner badges. The program is a huge boost for our people, paving the way for specialization and mastery of industry knowledge and concepts that can help shape their career paths as well as give them confidence to engage and speak the language of the companies where they conduct their work.

Given the early success of the initial five industries, we plan to launch badge programs for additional industries later this year and in early 2022.

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