What I’ve Learned So Far In My 40 Year Career

30 June 1980  I started my career in accounting as a Payments Clerk.

With a 5 O Levels I wasn’t exactly starting from strong foundations to build an accounting career .

I was however really fortunate to have a boss who saw my potential.

One day he dropped a copy of the local college prospectus on my desk.

I looked through it and found the only course that I had the entry requirements for.  A Scottish National Diploma in Accounting.

Off I went and signed up for 3 evenings in college after work.

My boss made sure I got practical experience in every area of accounting.

He taught me non technical skills.

After getting rejected for promotion a couple of times, I got a role in internal audit in the NHS. 

After another rejection for a promotion and being frustrated by the way the interview process had gone, I applied for a job 450 miles away in Brighton.

I thought I’d hear nothing more.  A few weeks later I was on the overnight sleeper to London and then on to Brighton for an interview

A few days later I got a phone call offering me the job.

I sold up, moved South.

I qualified with CIMA and went on to work at a senior level in the NHS and had a 5 year stint working in the Big 4 with PwC and EY.

In autumn 2005 I had one of those conversations you never want with a new CEO as an FD.

It was clear that I wasn’t part of the plans going forward and we went our own separate ways at the end of 2005.

It was at this point I decided to set up my own business helping other accountants and professionals to succeed. If I’m honest I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of my work, even when employed where I mentored a number of people.

It was a big decision and one I’m glad I made. 

So what have I learned so far on my 40 year journey so far?

  • We all need someone to give us that first opportunity.
  • You can have career plans but you have to adapt.
  • Working with the right bosses is more important than the financial rewards.
  • Stepping out of our comfort zone is tough and it’s where exponential growth happens.
  • I will never the finished product but always work in progress.
  • I can’t control events but I can decide how I respond.
  • It’s easy to undervalue yourself and forget just how far you have progressed.
  • Attitude and mindset plays a huge part in your career success.
  • It’s not those who are technically or academically the best who necessarily go the furthest.
  • There will be rejections and setbacks along the way.
  • Others can see qualities in us that we can’t always see ourselves.
  • None of us irreplaceable whatever we might think.
  • I have to keep learning.
  • I made make mistakes along the way and I  learned from them.
  • My intentions were always to do my best whatever the outcome.
  • I can’t please everyone even if I try.
  • It’s easy to stand on the side lines and find fault.  It’s tougher to step up and make things happen.
  • Managing and leading might look easy when on the outside looking in but it’s really tough in practice.
  • Treat people well.
  • The quality of your relationships play a big part in your success as a finance professional.
 In many ways your career is an ongoing journey with new opportunities and challenges.  That for me is what makes it really rewarding.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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