Mentoring in the US with Career Mentoring
Mentoring can build leadership skills, develop active listening and most of all, support career growth.
Innovations such as Career Mentoring, the only global, virtual career mentoring programme for professional accountancy associations in the world, created by ICAS, aims to engage and develop our members, wherever they are in the world and at whatever stage they are in their career.
It’s free to take part – the only resource required is your time and dedication to personal development. Traditional professional development routes have fallen away; advancement is not necessarily linked to your day-to-day practice, and may focus on personal quality development, or even future-proofing your job.
Mentoring, like strenuous exercise, produces many benefits for the individual; the feel-good factor, personal insight, knowledge-building, low-costs and maximum impact!
Malcolm Wright, Chief operating officer of the Valuation Services division of Alvarez & Marsal, a global consulting firm, has been a member of ICAS for over 30 years, and works with three mentees in Canada, England and Scotland. He benefitted from a mentor in his late twenties and early thirties; a critical time for developing his career.
He was attracted to becoming a mentor as he always enjoyed working with people in their early career. “It's one reason I stayed in professional services,” explains Malcolm. “I've learned a few things over the years and felt it would be good to pass along some of the things I've learned from both the successful aspects of my life and the not-so-successful.
Geography is increasingly irrelevant in business. Malcolm Wright, CA Mentor
“I wanted to become involved with Career Mentoring as I felt it was a very real way to remain connected to ICAS and the new generation of members. Being a mentor has refreshed some of the skills (listening, not rushing to judgement or providing the answer) that I can apply to my own work and home life.”
Malcolm is new to virtual mentoring, and felt there was a strong advantage to his previous experience of working in two different cultures; “I can use my experience on how people think and act differently to help my mentees analyse situations. For my mentees, I think the fact that I was British but based in the USA was attractive to them, as they all have connections here, are or have worked in North America.”
Malcolm finds ‘geography increasingly irrelevant in business’, and conducts his virtual mentoring sessions by telephone. He explains that ‘you don’t get cues from body language [on the phone] so inflection and pauses become the auditory cues.’ This style of mentoring has allowed him to learn that ‘it’s OK for there to be gaps of silence as thoughts are marshalled or questions framed.’
Becoming a mentor with Career Mentoring has been a positive experience for Malcolm. “It took a while to settle into a rhythm with each of the mentees: you cannot force it and you should allow them to dictate the pace and frequency of contact,” he says.
Malcolm has solid advice for any CAs that are considering becoming a mentor, or working with a mentor:
I've found most of the value comes from helping people think about people issues; not just their own perspective but the views of people they report to or supervise. I've spent most of the last 20 years running business units, and understand that relationships are everything in business, good or bad. You've also got to be a bit passive in this role and more of a sounding-board than an advice-giver. If your style is to be prescriptive then it may frustrate you.
I would approach seeking a mentor as a long-term investment with someone who can provide a sounding-board for you as you face career and life challenges. I would pick someone who has at least ten or 20 years more experience than yourself, and one who has trod the same path you find yourself on. I would not seek a mentor for short-term validation or career choice questions; a good mentor will not make those decisions for you nor rubber stamp your decisions.
The unique strengths of Career Mentoring are that it has Access, Breadth and Choice:
- the programme is open to access by any ICAS member and is offered by CAs for CAs
- its breadth is beyond organisation structures and can complement in-house programmes
- it provides choice for mentees to select the most appropriate mentor rather than just being matched with one.
Other mentoring opportunities from ICAS
Career Mentoring is not the only fantastic mentoring opportunity provided by ICAS. The ICAS Foundation, which aims to support academically talented young people into university, offers mentoring opportunities for CAs. All ICAS Foundation mentors will be supporting students or school pupils who want to go to university to study accountancy or finance.
ICAS is also keen to support business growth through our business mentoring programme; giving our membership access to an experienced mentor who can provide valuable support to those starting out or seeking growth.
ICAS will be relevant to our members throughout their careers with high-quality professional development. We want to enable you to engage and build networks which sustain your professional identity; achieving the highest standards of professional practice will also influence the future of the profession in the public interest.