Date posted: 21/07/2017 7 min read

Mentoring brings clarity to CA's career decisions

Neil Angus FCA left his accounting practice to enter the Victorian parliament seven years ago but was keen to give back to the profession by becoming a mentor. In doing so he helped George Janev CA make a career-changing decision.

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.

George Janev CA

An interest in money and being very careful about my savings growing up naturally led to the appeal of what was described to me as a safe and conservative career in accounting. In my early teens, I always respected my father’s advice and generosity when I asked for A$10 to go to the shops. Without fail, he would give me A$20 and say: “You don’t have to spend it all”.

Skip forward to university studying accounting, where I hadn’t quite yet learnt the value of the art of sitting in coffee shops and “networking”, albeit I still practised daily.

Skip forward a little more – vacation work, graduate job, 9 to 5, work in the insolvency division, study for the Chartered Accounting Program, transfer to fraud and forensic services division, become a licensed private investigator.

Start some volunteer work on the weekends, graduate as a chartered accountant, parents couldn’t be more proud, work on some really interesting jobs, work on some not-so-interesting jobs, learn a lot, begin applying my business skills for the charity I volunteer at, keep drinking coffees.

mentor

I received an email from Charted Accountants ANZ asking whether I would be interested in participating in Mentor Exchange. This couldn’t have been at a better time. as I was trying to work out what makes me happy.

For the 12 months prior to getting this email, I had been volunteering for an animal welfare foundation and I realised that helping others who cannot help themselves makes me happy. I applied for Mentor Exchange and specifically requested that the person who was to be my mentor have a strong focus on giving back to the community. I was looking for someone who would help me uncover the next question which I needed to ask myself, not necessarily the answer.

My first impression of Neil was that he seemed like a very respectable person. Upon meeting him getting to know him, he quickly validated this and showed that he was also professional, humble and genuine.

Neil gave me two things. Firstly, the role of a mentor is to ask very good questions and to make me come to the resolutions which I was seeking, myself. Looking back, this was evident in our time together as it would be me talking for most of the time and Neil would listen. I also got to practise strategically eating my breakfast in between questions so I didn’t talk with a mouthful of food!
Secondly, Neil asked me during our third meeting whether I was using my time effectively.

This was a real sticking point, as I thought about all the time I spent scrolling through Facebook videos and wasting time at home doing nothing. Albeit while there is value in doing nothing for the mind and body to relax, I was not doing this effectively. I was looking for a career change, but my mind was all over the place. I needed to gain clarity, and I knew I needed to do this by learning. So I set out to use my time effectively and network, attend events and read.

Facebook became my events calendar as opposed to a way to occupy my boredom. One of the events that I attended has changed my life forever and has given me that clarity I was seeking. I have since resigned from my job and am pursuing the career with animal conservation programs in Africa as a volunteer to further my self-discovery to achieve fulfilment.

To people who are thinking about getting involved in Mentor Exchange, I would say that your career, your personal life, your relationships, everything that you do can be improved through your own personal development. You have nothing to lose! However, make sure that you have something that you seek. The mentors volunteer their time. This is extra time away from their families and their own careers and ambitions. We never get time back, so enter into this programme with the aim to use your time, and your mentor’s time, effectively.

Neil Angus FCA

I commenced my career as a graduate in the audit team at Price Waterhouse (as it was then). I worked at PW for a few years and completed my professional year (as it was then). Then moved to a four-partner practice, Jeffrey Thomas & Partners, in the city, working my way up through the ranks.

I was as a partner in the practice for 18 years, looking after the audit and investigations section. I left the practice after 25 years and had a major career change, going into state politics. I was elected as the State Member for Forest Hill in the Victorian Parliament in November 2010.

Related: Become a mentor

Find out more about the next Mentor Exchange

I decided to get involved in Mentor Exchange as I felt it was a good opportunity for me to put back into the profession I have been a part of for more than 30 years. I thought that my experience in both business and life more broadly may be of benefit to a younger member.

Our regular meetings were for breakfast at a small café in the city. George is a very focussed, enthusiastic and self-motivated young man, which made it a pleasure to catch up. He is a compassionate man, who willingly gives up his time on a regular basis to assist a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation. I was surprised to learn that George was a private investigator and worked in the forensic area, so when I told him I was a former certified fraud examiner, we both realised that Chartered Accountants ANZ had done a superb job in matching us together.

It was a pleasure to meet an enthusiastic young member who was keen to listen, learn and improve himself. Every time we met we followed up on our previous discussions, and it was encouraging to see George acting upon matters that we had discussed. George is a doer, not just a listener, which made it a real privilege to be able to spend time with him.

Mentor Exchange is a great opportunity for both the mentor and the mentee to connect and learn from each other as fellow professionals and Chartered Accountants ANZ members. The programme provides a confidential and flexible opportunity for the two parties to catch up at mutually suitable times and places, to discuss matters of interest and benefit.

As a longstanding Chartered Accountants ANZ member, it is a pleasure to be able to give back and impart some of my experience whilst encouraging and assisting a younger member.