Date posted: 6/07/2018 10 min read

Big picture mentoring

Sharing wine and audit war stories with his globally experienced Adelaide mentor have led to career advancement for one Adelaide CA.

In Brief

  • CA ANZ’s Mentor Exchange connects the skills and knowledge of experienced members with new CAs.
  • Mentor Exchange allows both members to learn from each other.
  • Mentors volunteer their time so if the young CA uses it wisely, it can vastly enhance their career development.

Mario Fimiani, Reporting Lead,  ASC Shipbuilding

Why did I decide to start receiving mentoring?

I reached a point in my career where I asked myself: “what’s next?” I had worked in the public accounting space, completed the CA program and settled into my role as a financial accountant. I was scrolling down my Facebook feed, where I saw an advertisement for the CA Mentor Program and signed up.

How has mentoring helped you? 

My mentoring relationship with Jared provided me with a sounding board. I was able to voice any questions I had about situations at work that I hadn’t encountered before. Jared’s advice helped me identify opportunities at work and voice my career aspirations to management. As a result, I recently took the opportunity to take on a new role as reporting lead.

So in my current role, I co-ordinate and review the preparation of key reports for ASC Shipbuilding such as monthly board reporting, dashboard reporting and presentations to management. I am also heavily involved in financial accounting activities such as budgeting, tax and preparing statutory financial reports.

Outline your career briefly 

I started my career in Audit and Assurance at Grant Thornton (Adelaide) as a graduate accountant after completing a Bachelor of Commerce + (Accounting) degree at the University of Adelaide. From Grant Thornton, I moved on to Perks Chartered Accountants, where I continued to work as an auditor and completed the CA program. After four years as an auditor, I took the plunge into commerce as a financial accountant at ASC Shipbuilding. 

What have you learnt from your mentor?

I have gained a whole new outlook on my career. I have learnt to assess situations from a “big picture” perspective and to take on new opportunities as they come my way. I have also learnt the value of language and effective communication. “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” This skill has helped me to communicate effectively with my team at work and colleagues across business.

Jared is a fantastic listener, determined, a “big picture” thinker and great at sharing his experiences in a way that made them relatable. His strengths helped inject a positive outlook on my career.

How did you build rapport?

At first I found it difficult to talk about myself and discuss my career goals and aspirations, without it feeling like a job interview. However, after a few wines and sharing war stories from our time in audit, it became easy for Jared and I to openly talk to each other. 

Has the mentoring process changed your thinking?

Mentoring has changed the way I think about professional development. I used to think professional development was to attend a training course, but the reality is that there are a range of avenues to gain professional development. I listen now to audiobooks and podcasts on the way to work and subscribe to news services to keep up to date. 

With Jared’s advice, I was able to discuss my career goals and aspirations with my managers at work. As a result, I was able to work with my managers to identify gaps in my skillset, and work towards broadening my role in the finance team.  

How do you both differ?

Jared has an outgoing personality, a career in M&A and has worked abroad. As a result, he has a wealth of experience in industries and environments very different to my own. Our differences have provided me with a strategic, commercial perspective.

How can a mentee can get the best out of mentoring?

The best way is to have an open mind and consider your mentor’s perspective. Be flexible, because the mentors are giving their time, so try to accommodate their schedule. Make an effort to be prepared before meeting.

Photography: Andrea Jacob

In what areas do you think you have improved?

I have improved my communication skills, and learnt how to better manage my time. In my new role as reporting lead, I have had to exercise these skills to ensure that we meet our deadlines to a high standard.

I feel I still need to improve on my personal brand profile. Working with Jared, I learnt I am quite reserved, and I rarely share news, ideas and updates on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This is an area I plan to work on over the next few months. 

Would you recommend Mentor Exchange to other new CAs?

Absolutely, my experience from the Mentor Exchange programme has been invaluable. It is a great program for new CAs to gain knowledge from experienced professionals and to work on career goals.

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Jared Jacob, Group Manager – Mergers and Acquisitions, OZ Minerals

I focus now on inorganic growth opportunities and strategic transactions for OZ Minerals. But my career started in the graduate programme at PwC in Sydney and I qualified as a CA there. I then spent five years in structured finance and principal investments at various European investment banks in London (Credit Suisse, Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank). I returned home to Sydney to work in strategy and M&A at UGL and have been with OZ Minerals for two years.

Why did you start mentoring?

Over the years I learnt a lot the “hard” way. With hindsight, I think having a formal mentor as an external sounding board could have been helpful in my early career. I’ve had informal mentoring relationships in the past, but CA Mentor Exchange looked like an interesting platform with its targeted and structured approach. I also thought I might have a different perspective to offer locally in Adelaide, given my diverse career and industry background.

What have you taught Mario?

I think I encouraged Mario to focus on the big picture and get more comfortable with the idea that it’s okay to allow yourself to take the time to really think things through – there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

How would you describe him?

Technically strong and very commercial, a deep thinker and very considered. Mario is also very humble with his own achievements. For example, he sits on the Board of ANFE (Associazione Nazionale Famiglie degli Emigrati Inc. a not-for-profit aged-care and disability services provider) and recently won the 2018 Italian Assistance Association (CO.AS.IT. SA) Italian Community Youth Award.  He commits himself wholeheartedly to his professional and personal endeavours. In short, I would describe him as a very talented and dynamic young professional.

Has the mentoring been a success? 

Absolutely, I think the pairing process was well researched, which made it faster for us to build a constructive rapport. While Mario didn’t have specific pre-determined goals, we were able to adopt a malleable approach and deal with live matters effectively (typically over a bite to eat and a couple of drinks after work in the first few meetings). I think the agile approach we took translated into Mario identifying real-time opportunities and hopefully I played a part in his development and him taking on a broader role within ASC. I was genuinely happy for Mario when he told me he had been promoted. 

I was genuinely happy for Mario when he told me he had been promoted. 
Jared Jacob Group Manager – Mergers and Acquisitions Oz Minerals

What has Mario taught you?

Empathy, perspective and taking the time to draw upon my own experiences that were relevant to our discussions. Mario made me acutely aware of what it was like navigating sometimes complex situations both on and off the field earlier in my career. He’s a really good communicator and has this ability to articulate himself with a confident, yet subtle style. It’s very effective, I’m suitably jealous.

How can a mentee get the best out of mentoring?

Leave your ego at the door and focus on the “how” to meet your objectives, rather than “what” you want out of your mentor or their network. 

In what areas has Mario improved?

I think he just fine-tuned his confidence to the point of backing himself to take action and make things happen.  

Would you recommend the program to other mentors?

Absolutely.  It’s a very well-run program. I will also continue to mentor Mario in an informal capacity.