Mentoring opportunities with ICAS
A strong mentoring relationship can provide benefits to mentors and mentees alike. ICAS offers three distinct schemes connecting students, professionals and entrepreneurs with the support they need to flourish.
Great mentoring is a gamechanger. Ask any ICAS mentor or mentee to describe the experience of mentoring and you’ll hear words such as “inspiring”, “empowering” and “rewarding” in return. The unique professional relationship it provides offers a chance to connect and grow at all stages of a career.
Its value is something that ICAS has long appreciated, with three well-established options with which members have the opportunity to engage and collaborate, thus boosting their professional development, supporting the careers of others and helping the progress of a start-up or SME.
The mentoring journey can begin early, during someone’s higher education. The ICAS Foundation links mentors from the membership with academically talented young people from disadvantaged communities who are studying a finance-related degree. It offers a unique opportunity for dynamic CAs to build professional relationships with – and provide encouragement to – the enterprising business leaders and finance professionals of the future.
Since the ICAS Foundation’s launch in 2013, more than 120 volunteer mentor CAs have supported 200 students across 14 universities in a role that can have a significant impact on a young person’s career aspirations – with a time commitment from as little as one to two hours a month.
“As a mentor, the students you meet through the ICAS Foundation have tremendous ability and enthusiasm and they are eager to hear about the world of business and finance,” says ICAS Foundation mentor John Brebner CA.
Fellow mentor Emma White CA agrees: “The work carried out by the ICAS Foundation is fundamental in allowing students to achieve their aspirations with confidence and having the opportunity to build a wide and varied network. I feel that, as CAs, we all have the ability and duty to share our knowledge and experience to help others.”
This generosity of professional spirit is an ethos echoed throughout the whole ICAS mentoring experience. Once in work, connecting with a mentor via ICAS career mentoring is a great investment in terms of time and professional development – offering mentees valuable strategic insight gleaned from years of experience. Other benefits include having a bedrock of encouragement and guidance, as well as providing a potential role model in a specialism or career path.
And it’s not just mentees who benefit. Becoming a mentor can be a rewarding experience – calling for leadership, communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the emotional intelligence and empathy to be able to empower others to build their own career. Going through the mentoring process can be a powerful boost to professional development, and with a negotiable time commitment that can fit into even the busiest of schedules.
For recent ICAS career mentor Graeme Reid CA, the key draw was understanding that he could add value to someone else’s career path. “The best part of the programme is working with young accountants who are full of ambition, but not quite clear on the path they should follow,” he notes.
The ICAS career-mentoring process is entirely member-initiated, with interested CAs required to proactively reach out to potential mentors or mentees through CA Connect, our member-exclusive online community platform.
Drawing on the wealth of experience in business and finance offered by senior CAs, business mentoring enables ICAS members to help start-ups and SMEs thrive. The scheme works with external organisations such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Spark to match CA mentors with businesses across Britain.
The business mentoring relationship, typically held over a nine to 12-month timeframe, can include face-to-face meetings or telephone discussions (the latter may be preferred during current conditions), again with a time commitment that’s optimised for all involved – starting from around four hours per month.
Working on your own can also be quite isolating and having a mentor makes you face reality.
Past mentees cite the value of access to detailed accountancy experience and knowledge of tax for giving them the confidence, ambition and focus to help them progress and plan for growth. In addition, research from the Federation of Small Businesses shows that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, double the rate for non-mentored entrepreneurs.
Gordon Saunders, founder of a design studio in Glasgow, paired up with his mentor Mark Tenby CA, Director of Martin Aitken and Co, through ICAS business mentoring and hasn’t looked back. “I’d been spending a lot of time networking to get new customers in and Mark encouraged me to think harder about what I was really getting out of different events,” he says. “Working on your own can also be quite isolating and having a mentor makes you face reality. I’d been greatly underpricing some of my work and I’m astonished at how little I was charging – that’s changed.”
The mentoring experience can offer a springboard to greater insight, providing valuable experience that long benefits a career or business. As Saunders notes, “It has really made a difference. I’m now more comfortable with my pricing, my terms and conditions – and much more confident about the future.”
ICAS offers three mentoring schemes
ICAS Foundation mentoring
To find out more about ICAS Foundation mentoring, call 0131 347 0121 or email email@example.com.
ICAS career mentoring
Mentors and mentees can find each other by reaching out through CA Connect, the online community for ICAS members.
ICAS business mentoring
To join the ICAS business mentoring scheme, register your contact details and an up-to-date biography on LinkedIn. To find a mentee, contact organisations such as Entrepreneurial Spark, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce or the Prince’s Trust.