ChildFund International is a global non-profit organisation helping children in adversity, with its headquarters in Virginia, US. Since qualifying as an ACCA, I have transcended several positions: from working as an accountant, programmes financial analyst, finance manager, and head of financial analysis for Africa programmes, to my current role as finance director.
I had a career break when I went back for further my studies between 1999 and 2002. However, I always worked whenever I had the opportunity. While there may be luck in successful career growth, it always boils down to training, networks (as afforded by ACCA), hard work, niching (seeing strengths and exploiting them) and being able to identify opportunities. Yes, talent is important – not everyone can be an accountant. Being able to identify your talent in accountancy and have an interest in exploiting it is a good way to begin.
To get to my position, you need to have the right kind of training (ACCA is the best place to begin). Identify who you are – you certainly can’t be good at everything – and make sure you are known for something. In doing this you become a reference point; when your company or organisation needs someone to accomplish something, your name comes to mind. I have had the opportunity to move and offer financial systems support to several country offices in Africa, Americas and in Asia. At one point I had left the company but was re-hired after just one year because I had something to offer. Being an ACCA member has been a great opportunity for me to add value to the organisation and to my career.
I undertook my ACCA studies and exams on my own through reading and practising, while also working. I never attended any class. Therefore, completing my PER was not difficult because I was able to easily demonstrate that I’d completed the three years’ employment in an accounting or finance-related role, since I was already working. I’ve also had the opportunity of having qualified practical experience supervisors supervising and guiding me. After qualifying, I have happily supported several qualifying ACCAs in pursuing and acquiring their PER.
If someone came to you for a job to help them complete their PER, what qualities or skills would you look for?
- I would look for a person willing to learn and be able to adapt to professional needs and requirements.
- A person who is open minded and not hampered by the fear of failure. Very willing to try, innovate and achieve.
- A person who is careful to reference their actions to the professional/ethical requirements of their profession.
- Someone who values and understands that, to achieve, there is usually individual as well as team effort involved. In this case, they must be a team player.
Neil Johnson, freelance writer