What a difference a mentorship makes

Caroline Cuthbertson (R) & Abbi resized
By Caroline Cuthbertson CA

25 October 2018

Caroline Cuthbertson CA shares her experience as a mentor with the ICAS Foundation.

I can’t believe it was four years ago that I was first introduced to my ICAS Foundation mentee, Abbi. I am absolutely delighted that she has now graduated with a first-class honours degree in business and accounting from the University of Edinburgh.

Abbi is the first student I have mentored through the ICAS Foundation. I heard about the opportunity to mentor and felt this was something I could support, and benefit from.

The ICAS Foundation awards bursaries of up to £2,500 per year, to individuals whose parents or guardians earn under a certain threshold per annum. The bursaries aim to help alleviate the costs of studying and, for example, day-to-day living costs. Bursaries are available to eligible secondary school and college students who are applying to study accountancy or finance at university.

To see this young woman make a difference to the young people from where she grew up is truly inspiring

Our introduction was very straightforward. We first met soon after Abbi started university and, while Abbi is a confident young woman, there is always a period of trepidation for a new student. My role as mentor was, firstly, to ensure Abbi did not feel that she had any obligation or commitment to me. She was clearly hugely grateful for the opportunity from the ICAS Foundation. Ensuring our relationship grew as a mentor and mentee was key in those early days.

Year one was very much about building Abbi’s confidence and ensuring that she felt in control of her studies, as it can be overwhelming for any first year student. Each year, we met three or four times face-to-face, and we had regular email contact.

I soon understood how Abbi liked to approach her studies and the processes she used to keep on top of workloads and ensure that she was prepared for group studies and exams. I was extremely impressed with how organised she was, and this held her in very good stead throughout the four years.

In year three we started to talk much more about career options and her dissertation for her final year.

I particularly enjoyed these discussions. As things progressed, her career aspirations became much clearer, and she decided on teaching business and accounting in a secondary school.

I was happy to provide my support as a mentor, but this was an experience and a relationship I have also benefited from so much.

Her ambition is to go back to the schools in the Fife area where she came from, to help encourage other young people in the same way she was heavily influenced by her teachers at Beath High School. She has since started a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education at the University of Glasgow.

To see this young woman make a difference to the young people from where she grew up is truly inspiring. I was happy to provide my support as a mentor, but this was an experience and a relationship I have also benefited from so much.

I will of course be reaching out to the ICAS Foundation to support another Foundation student. I recommend the ICAS Foundation Mentoring Programme to other CAs so please do what you can to help.

This is a fantastic opportunity for CAs to give something back to the communities in which they work and an extremely important role for ICAS members in supporting the development of young people.


The Foundation student's view

Being part of the ICAS Foundation during my time at the University of Edinburgh has been so beneficial. If I had to highlight one area in particular, it would be the relationship that I struck up with my mentor. The Foundation is a great resource for students. I cannot begin to thank Caroline enough for her support during my undergraduate degree.

Abbi, ICAS Foundation student

Become an ICAS Foundation Mentor

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