5 Valuable Career Lessons for Accounting and Finance Professionals

Expert Career Advice to Grow and Thrive as a CPA

While there will never be a one-size-fits-all recipe for success, there are a few essential career lessons that many successful business people and CPA’s seem to live by.

With years of experience in their field, our team of expert recruiters have witnessed first-hand the common indicators of success that many CPAs with a successful career all share.

So, whether you’re just getting started on your career path as an accounting and finance professional or you’ve weathered a few seasons of experience, here are 5 timeless and priceless career lessons from our recruiters to help you achieve your career goals.

1 – Find a Made-to-Measure Mentor

Mark Zuckerberg’s life-changing, question-answering, brainstorming mentor was none other than Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates’ mentor was Warren Buffet.

“There is undeniable value in finding and nurturing a mentor-mentee relationship,” explains Alex Barker CPA, CA, and Partner at The Mason Group. She stresses the importance of choosing a mentor whose career path you admire or aspire towards, and then nourishing the relationship by spending quality time with your chosen mentor and acknowledging his or her opinions and advice.

Your mentor should be someone you feel comfortable discussing topics primarily in relation to career advice, employment opportunities, and work challenges. The relationship should strengthen over time and lead to a mutual sense of respect and commitment.

2 – Rise Above Bad Apples

Never let a toxic relationship with a bad boss derail your career path.” These words of wisdom spring from the personal experience of Jeffrey Horowitz, Partner at The Mason Group. Still early in his career, Jeffrey worked for a great and well-respected organization, doing a job he loved with excellent coworkers, until the company brought someone on board that would become Jeff’s boss and with whom personalities did not mesh.

Jeffrey’s subordinate-superior relationship grew sour and as a young, impulsive, and still inexperienced professional, Jeff let his boss get the best of him and quit his job before locking in a new one.

“In retrospect, I might have risen above this individual and built a different path for myself if I had simply continued to work hard at a job I actually enjoyed doing, not letting a bad boss get in the way of my career goals. That person ended up getting terminated within a year anyway.”

Does this sentiment strike a familiar chord? Sadly, many employees experience the harsh reality of a boss that bullies, toxic co-workers, and a negative company culture or work environment, all on a daily basis.

To help you deal with work-related issues, you might enjoy reading Rising Above a Toxic Workplace. Authors Gary Chapman, Paul White and Harold Myra tell authentic stories from today’s workers who share how they cope, change, or quit. They candidly open up about what they learned, what they wish they had done, and how to gain resilience, delivering hope and practical guidance to those trapped in an unhealthy work environment.

3 – Network, Network, and Network Some More

Senior Search Consultant, Tricia Campbell CPA, CMA, cannot say it enough: “Network, network, network! It might not seem as useful for accountants to network than for other business professionals that spend more time around humans and less around excel spreadsheets, but what a mistake not networking would be!”

It’s a small world after all, isn’t it? No one knows which are the connections that could come in handy in the future. For instance, a connection can help you find a new job, meet a mentor or connect with a potential client. Reaching out to your network will ALWAYS prove to be more effective than cold-calling someone for whom you are a stranger to.

Play smart, think long-term, and network without expectations. The people you meet will lead you to shaking hands with business leaders and career champions who could open doors and fast track your career.

4 – Envision Your Career as a Marathon, not a Sprint

Be patient. Relax. Nothing good will result from rushing. “Approach both your professional and personal lives on a long-term basis.” Annika Friesen, CPA, CA and Senior Associate at The Mason Group, has these words of advice for CPAs to keep in mind, both when starting their career and along the way.

“Give yourself time to breathe, learn, and grow. If you rush your career, you will inevitably wear out too soon and start resenting what you previously enjoyed. Don’t be afraid to slow down.”

Success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey! Each step along the way deserves an appropriate amount of time and consideration to be fully experienced and assimilated before reaching for new heights.

5 – Love What You Do

“Find something you love to do or at the very least enjoy doing! It will have a tremendous impact on your well-being and demeanor”, says Mitch Goldstein, President at The Mason Group. “If you enjoy what you are doing you will not mind working the extra hours that might be needed to get ahead or to be really successful in your job,” he adds.

Everyone spends a significant amount of time at work. Enjoying clocking in will make your jobs feel a lot less like a prison sentence and a lot more like a blessing.

RELATED: 12 qualities highly successful CPAs



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