Jim Pettigrew: Collective wisdom in the ICAS family
ICAS President Jim Pettigrew CA on the power of sharing knowledge and experience, and the insights that can be gained from the ICAS mentoring programme.
Every business needs wise owls. Every CA needs wise owls, too. Whether you are young or old, executive or non-executive, rushing to the top or trying to stay there, we all benefit hugely from the gentle hand on the tiller from men and women who have been there and done it. They are worth their weight in gold.
I’ve observed in my year as President, countless examples of the value of the guidance CAs give each other. At the ICAS Conference, experienced non-executives passed on golden nuggets of advice, cut from the rock face of personal experience. This was equally valuable to those seeking their first foray into the boardroom and to those who have sat there for a long time. In another workshop, young entrepreneurs setting out were helped by those with global success stories.
Also at the conference we launched "The Power of One", our new ethics initiative. Here also we intend to leverage our collective wisdom and use mentoring to help each other.
At our ICAS Dinner we heard the inspiring and heartfelt story of Sean Devine, one of our Foundation students, who has fought through great adversity to make his start in the profession. Sean and each and every one of his fellow students in the Foundation benefit from the guidance of experienced CAs as their mentors.
In the past 12 months, we have seen around 450 CAs volunteering through our global, virtual Career Mentoring Programme, a programme that literally has hands around the world. In Australia, one energetic and sage CA takes time to mentor nearly a dozen others, all of whom are based outside Australia. In Europe, a young CA getting her first European CFO position benefits from the experience of another who has held a similar position for decades.
On every stop on my Presidential tour, I come across people who cannot speak highly enough of the value of these mentoring relationships. In fact, I’ve seen so much of this and felt its power. I believe that the more CAs we involve in the programme, the more we could create a differentiating factor that sets our Institute apart from any other. Our effervescent CEO Anton Colella often refers to ICAS as a family. Within our family there are thousands of CAs willing to help.
In a world where technology is disrupting and challenging all around us, the most important component in business remains dealing with people.
I had the pleasure of attending Gold Club lunches in Edinburgh and London to celebrate those who have been CAs for 50 years or more. The combined wisdom and experience in those rooms cannot be matched.
At every stage in my own career I’ve had my wise old owls. In my first ever finance role in a timber merchants in Dundee, I watched the old campaigners and listened to their insight. Since then I have always believed in the value of a truly independent sounding board.
I found that if you were only wanting praise and a boost to your confidence, there is limited benefit from the all-seeing eyes of the wise owl peering across at you. If, however, you prefer gritty challenge or insight into your own behaviour and can find those who speak truth to power, you’ll soon find yourself in the zone of uncomfortable debate. That’s the stuff of real, personal improvement.
Much of the most valuable advice is about behaviours and managing relationships. In a world where technology is disrupting and challenging all around us, the most important component in business remains dealing with people.
2016 - The Year of the Mentor
So, if you want a piece of advice from this old owl, I would urge you to involve yourself in mentoring through ICAS. Help make 2016 the Year of the Mentor. The experience will be rewarding for you and for those you meet along the way.