Tom Parkinson CA: A brighter path for CA skills

Cameroon
By Tom Parkinson CA

21 August 2018

Imagine what would happen if Europe had no power for a month. No internet; no microwave; no washing machine. How would that impact your life? How could you get necessities? How would you work? How long before there would be unrest on the darkened streets? We wouldn’t accept it.

Across the Mediterranean Sea, people live without electricity every day. It isn’t an isolated problem for a few rural villages, either. According to the World Bank, 600 million people in Africa have no access to energy.

Fortunately, new technology is producing solutions to this problem.

Knowing that the work you do has a tangible and positive impact on people’s lives gives an added sense of fulfilment.

Tom Parkinson CASteamaCo removes a major barrier preventing solar electrification in emerging markets by enabling companies to sell clean energy, anywhere. Therefore, no matter where the geographic lottery has placed you, you can get access to electricity.

This means sweeping improvements in health, education, and social mobility - plus a few of the things that make life that little bit sweeter. A cold beer after a long day’s work, watching a favourite TV show or a phone call from a friend are now all possibilities for communities who have never had those small luxuries.

As CFO at SteamaCo, enabling African electrification has become my purpose.

I didn’t start my career aiming to impact Africa’s energy deficit, though deep down I knew I wanted to make a difference. My early career path was relatively generic; I trained with a Big Four practice, moved into the corporate world, and then progressed up the ladder.

Then, when I relocated away from London, I took the opportunity to reassess my career. I realised that I wanted to be more hands-on. I wanted to make more of an impact.

My time at SteamaCo has been incredibly rewarding. Helping to grow any company from the early stages is fraught, but exciting. Knowing that the work you do has a tangible and positive impact on people’s lives gives an added sense of fulfilment.

I have found that using your skills to make a difference adds purpose and extra motivation to your work. I now know that accountants can and do have influence over the world's major challenges.

CAs can make a tangible difference. Use your skills to enable change and you will find rewards in your career beyond the conventional.

This is not to be naive. Everything has a cost, but if you are willing to trade short-term financial benefit to gain added purpose from your work, then the world of positive change can be opened up to you.

One example from my experience has particular resonance. SteamaCo helped supply energy to a lady in Kenya. With access to power, she invested in a hair-dryer, which then enabled her to set up a hairdressing salon. The money she now earns means she is able to send her children to school.

Access to education will be a turning point in their lives and the lives of future generations. Multiply this up across the millions of people that SteamaCo plans to aid and you have real change for the future.

Being part of the One Young CA process has opened my eyes to a wide variety of CAs doing really great and challenging work, helping to improve the lives of many people. Simply, CAs can make a tangible difference. Use your skills to enable change and you will find rewards in your career beyond the conventional. If you feel the drive to make a difference, you can.

Topics

  • Thought leadership
  • CA life
  • Business

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