- Mentor Elaine Boyd CA guided Annie Deng CA when she returned to accounting after having a baby.
- Elaine Boyd CA: “Combining part-time work with being a parent is a big challenge, so I wanted to help guide someone else through a similar journey to mine, while also assuring Annie that she was still capable of progressing her career.”
- Annie Deng CA: “It’s been a challenge balancing work and being a parent, and Elaine has guided me through that. She also took time out from her career to have her son.”
Elaine Boyd CA
Senior manager, Perks Accountants & Wealth Advisers, Adelaide
Pictured: Elaine Boyd CA. Image credit: David Mariuz.
I’ve been working as an accountant for almost 18 years and looking back, I didn’t receive a lot of mentoring outside of the workplace. I think it would [have been] helpful, particularly in the earlier stages of my career and when I returned from extended leave. This played a big part in why I wanted to to be involved in the Return to Work program.
Being at Perks for 17 years, I’ve developed some very strong working relationships. But when I took time out, it still took time to reintegrate, build my confidence back up and work out how I fit back into a career path.
It would have been great to have someone to talk to when I came back to work after having my son [now four years old]. I also had cancer and had to take extended leave to focus on my recovery, so it was a challenge to integrate back into the workforce after the combination of those experiences.
I wanted to help someone who has also taken a break from their accounting career to have a child. Combining part-time work with being a parent is a big challenge, so I wanted to help guide someone else through a similar journey to mine, while also assuring Annie that she was still capable of progressing her career.
“Combining part-time work with being a parent is a big challenge, so I wanted to help guide someone else through a similar journey to mine, while also assuring Annie that she was still capable of progressing her career.”
The Return to Work program is a brilliant initiative. There are videos and other resources for participants to draw on. For someone like me who is passionate about helping others further their career, it’s a worthwhile way to build leadership skills and give back to your profession.
I set clear goals with Annie in the beginning as I felt it was important to know what we both wanted to achieve from the relationship. To foster a good relationship, you need to nurture it to grow and be a long-term connection that both can benefit from.
Each time we speak, I document what we talk about and say, ‘When we catch up next, I want you to come back with your thoughts on this topic. Even if you don’t have the answers, even if you have more questions, that’s OK – we can work it out together’.
Annie and I have an informal arrangement; we don’t have scheduled calls. We try to make time to speak around our other commitments as the responsibilities that come with juggling a career and parenting can be time consuming. Annie will sometimes call me on her way home, so I try to make myself available as often as needed.
I like to think that I am helping, not just with how to find the balance between work and motherhood, but also with her career. Previously, Annie was working in a support tech related role and is now in a public practice, like me, and she has clear ambitions about her future career pathway. It is valuable to listen to her and offer advice wherever I can. I have the experience – I’ve been there myself!
The best pieces of advice I’ve given to Annie are to have clear goals, make sure you have the necessary support and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.
Annie Deng CA
Accountant, Findex Ballarat, Victoria
Pictured: Annie Deng CA. Image credit: Andrew Wilson.
I was an accountant in a boutique CA firm for a couple of years and after that I worked at an accounting practice software company. Then I took some time off to have my baby, and, when I decided to come back to work, I wanted to be an accountant in a practice again.
I’ve just moved to a mid-tier practice and it’s been really great to make a connection with Elaine through the Return to Work program. The good thing about the program is you can develop it to work for you. The first match wasn’t really the right fit for me, but CA ANZ was so helpful in finding me someone who was better suited to my career goals and that was when I met Elaine. She has so much experience in this industry so it’s been valuable for me to ask her advice.
It’s been a challenge balancing work and being a parent, and Elaine has guided me through that. She also took time out from her career to have her son.
“It’s been a challenge balancing work and being a parent, and Elaine has guided me through that. She also took time out from her career to have her son.”
Zoe was 15 months old when I went back – she’s now 18 months – and she had a lot of separation anxiety. The first week she didn’t sleep much at day care and I really worried if it was the right thing to do, going back to work. Elaine told me her son still cries sometimes at day care drop off and gave me confirmation that it’s normal.
She said, ‘As soon as you turn around they will be playing’ – and it’s true! As a mum, it can be easy to put other people’s needs before your own, which can lead to stress and burnout. Elaine advised me to take time each day to do something to feel refreshed and relaxed – a hot shower, reading a book, a walk.
Sometimes my mum will pick up Zoe from day care so I don’t have to rush there from work. Elaine got help from her family as well. She taught me we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
She also advised me to put my hand up for projects, to get exposure to client meetings and to foster professional networks and client relationships. I get the impression she is very hard working.
We started off talking every fortnight, but now we speak if I have questions I think she can help me with. I often call her on my way home from work. I do hope Elaine is getting something out of the mentoring relationship too. It’s really nice to connect with another person in the same industry, but who is not in your actual workplace. I feel like I can be a bit more open with the questions I ask.
Right at the beginning of the program, she told me that a mentoring relationship should not be for a set period – it can be for a lifetime, if it’s working. I like that idea and I think we will keep talking into the future, if Elaine has enough time to answer my many questions!
Mentor Exchange: Return to Work
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