Accounting grads receive career advice
ACCA SA recently held its Annual Graduation evening for new members at the Hyatt Regency in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Having recently completed the ACCA Professional qualification, candidates are eligible for ACCA membership.
Chairman of ACCA SA Network Forum, Chama Kamukwamba extended a warm welcome to ACCA's twenty-two new members, and to ACCA's guest of honour, ACCA CEO, Helen Brand, who was visiting South Africa.
ACCA fellow, Lead Independent Non-executive Director of Harmony Gold Mining and Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Anooraq Resources Corporation, Fikile De Buck, was the keynote speaker: "It is indeed a good evening when we gather to celebrate the graduation of those, who have worked hard for their qualifications. We all know that you have had to work and how many sacrifices you had to make in order to get to this point."
New graduates have already learnt that hard work pays off; it was now time to get into the trenches: "This is a different arena where the rubber meets the road. This is where all that you have learnt in class gets tested in the real world of work.
This is where your endurance is tested. This is where there is no room for error, where you function in a global arena and where everything that you do can be scrutinised at that level. It is also within that global arena that one can make a name for oneself." The challenge was to put years of experience behind oneself, in order to distinguish oneself from one's peers and to be able to gain a competitive edge. "You need to learn to be open to correction. Submit to your seniors, there is something that they can teach you, which you cannot learn in a classroom. Be prepared to learn.
Make sacrifices. Be prepared to go the extra mile. This shows dedication and commitment and will give you the sort of experience that your 8-5 colleague will not get. Have a different attitude in the workplace.
Be innovative, but do things with humility, knowing that you still have a lot to learn. Most importantly, ensure that your integrity is without question," De Buck advised.
While new graduates are stepping into a very challenging financial environment, where challenges include corruption and challenges around LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) it was important to recognise that challenges such as these "create opportunities for accountants to step into." New graduates were reminded of the importance of Continuous Professional Development (CPD): "Ten years down the line, you will find that things are totally different.
If you have not caught up you will find yourself irrelevant." De Buck urged graduates to run their race with integrity. She said it was also important to be competitive, and constantly improve whatever one does, striving always to be the best one can be: "Fly the ACCA flag high. Let them know us for the quality brand that we are." ACCA members were also addressed by Brand, who described the new members' graduation as "a truly outstanding landmark in their careers."
She said the value of accountants emanates from their ability to take an objective and ethical approach and an approach, which delivers public value. "If the profession is seen to fail to act in a way, which protects the public interest, then its value to business is actually lost," Brand cautioned. The best accountants were those, who defend the principles of robust corporate governance, and who constantly apply the highest ethical standards to their work.
Brand noted that with the global economic crisis continuing, accountants are increasingly at the forefront of operations. People are depending on accountants to resolve the situation: "You are in the right place at the right time because you are in high demand. The market in South Africa is developing and opening up to multinationals, which shows a demand for skills and professional accountants. You will always be needed as a profession, but this does not mean you can be complacent. You need to be proactive in upholding your reputation and ACCA's. Ask yourself on a regular basis: ‘What value am I delivering?'" Head of ACCA SA, Nadine Kater concluded the proceedings by saying: "We want to recognise and reiterate that becoming an accountant has been a lot of hard work. However, your journey with ACCA is only starting now."