Stories from practice

16 April 2018

Mentoring: taking professional development to the next level By Katherine Ritchie

How can professional accountants help you?

A mentor can help professional accountants succeed in their current role and get them ready for their next career steps.


Katherine Ritchie, a London-based analyst in Operational Transaction Services, talked to us about how she benefits from the mentorship programmes the accountancy profession offers.

 

The value of being part of a profession

I have seen that the professional qualification’s final year is pivotal in a career. Young accountants need to make many choices and their path is not always straight forward.

Professional institutes offer great leadership and management opportunities to support professional development. ICAS (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland) programmes and the one in my current workplace have been super helpful to me. Each of my mentors have different experiences to draw on. They raised my self-awareness, challenged me to acknowledge my values and encouraged me to think differently.

 

Making a difference for young accountants

I so greatly enjoyed investing in learning that I am now a mentor myself. I coach, teach and challenge mentees to think outside of their comfort zone, and share experiences and networks.

Over the past 4 years I have mentored 6 people working towards accountancy qualification and economics degrees through an eMentoring scheme at my former university. I think it is important to take the time to create a trusted environment. I also find it essential to adapt my approach to peoples’ backgrounds, experiences and social style.

Mentors ask the right questions. They act as an impartial sounding board and help students and professionals make decisions that best suit their needs. With my mentees, this means stress management, reviewing job applications, mock interviews and insight into different work cultures. Now that I realise its potential, I am keen to stimulate a culture of ongoing learning wherever I may go personally and professionally.

I encourage people make use of existing mentoring schemes whether it is through universities, professional bodies or through employer. But also to step up and start their own. Recently, I introduced a mentoring programme in my current workplace. We pair junior analysts with our department’s partners to give the juniors deeper insight into practicing as an accountant before their qualification.

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