To celebrate international youth day, The Accountant and International Accounting Bulletin asks professionals aged under 35 to share their thoughts on the profession: why they qualify as accountants, whether it was challenging and, now that they are in, how they see the profession and where it is going.
I am the father of two active boys, and I love to read and travel.
I chose this profession because I enjoyed mathematics, business economics and accounting. After achieving third place in the National Accounting Olympiad (in my matric year), accounting seemed to be the obvious choice.
My first career choice was to be a historian. In hindsight, accountants collect and analyse accounting data which is effectively compiling the company’s history. Thus I felt comfortable I have not strayed too far from my childhood dream.
I studied Bachelors of Business Science and B.Com Honours at the University of Cape Town. The studies were not difficult. I really enjoyed most of my courses (except for operation management), so I did relatively well.
The profession is beyond stereotypical bean counting; its chief activity of data collection; reporting and budgeting are crucial for the operation and decision making of any organisation (corporate, government, NGOs). The profession is an important pillar of any economy/society.
There are difficulties for a young professional coming in, for example the steep learning curve to adapt from university to the corporate environment (e.g. corporate culture, processes etc). However, I was fortunate to work with some great managers/mentors who assisted and guided me.
The professional institutions do cater effectively for prospective young accountants, the professional institutions are aware of the changes business, industries and what the profession is currently facing. They are engaging with their stakeholders to adapt their training to remain relevant to their stakeholders.
The volume, transparency, speed of data in the future will change how the profession works. The accountants of the future will be more like data scientists who focuses on accounting data.
I believe my generation (the Millennials) can have significant positive impact on society as we are;
· Digital natives thus able to amplify our views through social media and
· Civic minded, therefore are willing to contribute to worthy causes.
I would recommend young professionals to read as much as they can and contribute by volunteer their time to a worthy cause. For young professionals new to work environment, I highly recommend “what color is your parachute” and “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”