Jonny Jacobs CA: 5 things I have learned as One Young CA

Jonny OYCA
By Jonny Jacobs CA, One Young CA 2017

14 March 2018

The 2017 ICAS One Young CA Jonny Jacobs shares his experiences and lessons learned as this year's competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest, draws to a close.

It has been close to six months since I attended the 2017 One Young World Summit in Colombia, representing ICAS on a global stage as part of Chartered Accountants Worldwide - and it’s a week of my life I will not forget anytime soon.

Since being named One Young CA last year, I have been incredibly motivated to tap into the themes of the Summit and use this opportunity to influence those around me.

Thinking of these themes and what lies ahead for us, there is a huge amount of opportunity for CAs of all ages and walks of life to help shape the future. I’ve experienced more than I could have imagined and I believe that our profession can also keep evolving and learning. The way we work is changing; the integral role of technology in everything we do and shifting mindsets toward a more purposeful profession cannot be overstated.

I look forward to welcoming newly-qualified CAs to our global network at the 2018 Admission Ceremony in Edinburgh - an experience that will be another first for me. Having learned a great deal from my career, most especially in the last six months, there are a few reflections I’d like to share.

1. Be your own version of a ‘real’ leader

We all have a view of what a typical leadership style is and how it manifests itself in the workplace. However, I have come to realise that true leadership is different for everyone.

Thinking back to One Young World, we weren't short of leaders to learn from: from the infectious smile of Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW, to the gritty but polished Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the leaders I saw in Colombia inspired me to define my own style of effective leadership. From my observations, great leadership displays a whole host of characteristics, the key attributes being:

  • Listening to others and making them feel heard;
  • Being a strong and adaptable communicator;
  • Motivating change with energy and conviction;
  • Always committing to ‘walk the talk’.

It doesn’t matter how we look, what clothes we wear or what accent we have. The important thing is to demonstrate these great leadership traits to those around us. I encourage you to have confidence in letting your own style develop and let your unique traits shine through.

2. Soft skills are hard work

We spend much of our education and professional lives developing the left side of our brain - the logical and analytical side. We pay less attention to the side that navigates our emotions, interacts with others, and develops long-lasting relationships. Yet, it is self-awareness, and truly understanding others, that drives relationships and that gets deals done.

It wasn’t until I was 30 that I did my first Myers Briggs style personality insights sessions and discovered what profile I had, and how I could get the best from others based on the personality traits. In my view, it was at least 10 years too late into my career.

Try to focus more on that right side of your brain: self-awareness, relationship building, empathy, personal resilience, and learning about emotional intelligence (EQ).

3. Create a legacy for the future

Leaders create leaders. At One Young World, there was one speaker who, at 23-years-old, presented in a second language to over 1500 people. I commented to a fellow delegate how impressed I was at his ability to stand on stage and present so confidently. He responded: “He did well, but I’m proud of his boss standing next to him encouraging him to do it.”

In that moment, I recognised that this support is what leadership looks like.

4. Push beyond perceived boundaries

Some people have a rigid mindset when it comes to the value a finance professional can bring to an organisation. Don’t underestimate that, as CAs, we are often perfectly placed at the heart of a business. We have the power to affect all areas of our organisations and possess the skills to drive change beyond the confines of our role profiles.

I’m a great believer in operating outside your space, and chase experiences beyond the job specifications: go beyond finance and contribute to the wider agenda. When pladis signed the MIND Time for Change Mental Health pledge, I volunteered to get involved. I’m now part of shaping the wider Health and Wellbeing strategy for our business. As a CA, who’d have thought!

5. Find your purpose

Evidence suggests that those who are motivated at work are significantly more productive. Yet research suggests 80% of us are simply not motivated. Not only is this a huge loss to the UK economy, we are missing out on job satisfaction. A key element of motivation is discovering the sense of purpose in what you do.

A clear purpose is what engages people in their work and inspires the desire to succeed. I tell colleagues to find out what is important to them and build it into everything they do.

This combination of being good at what you do, alongside your passion, can deliver incredible results. Find that purpose!

How to enter

All qualified ICAS CAs under the age of 35 are eligible to enter for the One Young CA award. The entry form will ask for a few details on your current position and a maximum of 300 words on why you should be the 2018 ICAS One Young CA.

Entries are now closed.

The 2018 Young CA Summit

This year's One Young CA will be announced in an awards ceremony at the 2018 Young CAs Summit. ICAS members and friends are invited to join us at the 'Cheesegrater' Leadenhall Building in London on 21 June to celebrate the rising stars of the CA profession. Tickets available now.

All qualified ICAS CAs under the age of 35 are eligible for entry. Entries close at midnight on 30 March 2018.


  • CA life
  • One Young CA

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