New course aims to help people get a “competitive advantage” in professional services

Leadership, it’s a skill often discussed and highly rated but rarely taught. However, one Yorkshire university is looking to change that with a new course focused on developing leadership within the professional services industry.

The University of York has just launched ‘Understanding Professional Services Firms’, a new one-and-a-half-day intensive management development course which will be run by Professor Daniel Muzio at the York Management School.

Muzio sat down with to talk about the reasons behind creating this new course and the potential he sees for it to grow beyond just Yorkshire and the UK but support businesses across Europe and the USA.

“There’s a particular gap in the market at the minute which this course looks to fill. We want to help people who are transitioning into their professional careers – so that could be third year undergraduates who are preparing for what’s next, post graduates or even graduate employees within companies to gain skills that aren’t necessarily taught either at university or in the workplace.”

Muzio noted that particularly in professional services and consultancy type businesses graduates may be able to do the doing – whether that’s legal, accounting or even marketing work, but often have little understanding on how that plays into the industry and company’s bigger picture and how those organisation within the sector actually works.

“There has been very little focus in universities and beyond on professional and that’s unfortunate because careers in these sectors are prevalent with the services industry accounting for 80% of the UK economy.”

He explained that of that 80% over half of it is in what he dubbed advanced professional services so sectors such as law, marketing and accountancy.

So this new course looks to address what Muzio noted as the missing link within those careers which often require a degree level or equivalent qualification alongside an industry specific qualification.

“Britain is a world leader within professional services and for the country its area of great competitive advantage so it’s only right that we look at how we can support the country’s graduate talent in setting themselves apart from what is a competitive field.

“People study law or accountancy and they develop a knowledge and skills on a topic. They know how to draw up a contract or how to do an audit but they often leave university knowing very little about how the legal sector works as a business and how those firms make money. So if we can provide this skill and understanding – which is backed by my years of research into the field – then surely it gives them a competitive advantage.”

Muzio’s keen to highlight however that this isn’t anecdotal evidence the university has conducted extensive market research and spoken to firms both in Yorkshire and beyond about if they see this as a missing strand and the answer was an overwhelming yes!

“We’ve explained it’s not something normally taught on a course at university and although firms offer all sorts of training that’s normally focused on practical areas and not this broader understanding of a sector and business model.”

The professor who joined the university in 2018 however stressed that although there’s been conversations with firms across the professional sector about this and he hopes many will send their people on the course “I will not be an agent of those firms, I will be teaching people and perhaps being more critical and drawing on my own research. I hope it will help open up the ‘black box’ of the economics of the firms these young professionals are joining and provide another tool to help them develop in their careers.”

Alongside the condensed education element of the course which is completed in five three-hour blocks over one and a half days is a networking element over dinner which is designed to help this next generation of young professionals grow their own peer network, something Muzio notes is critical to success within the sectors they’re focused on.

Looking ahead beyond this first year which will take place on 12 and 13 September it’s clear there are hopes that this new offer might grow further, although not being drawn on the potential the professor notes that he sees opportunities to export the course to Europe and the USA where the professional services environment is similar and are often led by the UK market which is “more advanced than the sector in many European countries”

The course will run on 12 and 13 September and is priced at £950. It is currently open for registration, for more details click here.