Strategic mentoring pays off
A mutual passion for all things finance and a quirky shared sense of humour have forged a strong, lasting connection in Wellington between Kiwi Wealth analyst Timothy Young and his mentor Joy Tracey.
- 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.
Independent consultant and director
Timothy and I are both direct and straightforward optimists with quirky senses of humour. During our mentoring sessions, I tried to get Timothy to talk about himself, his career and life to date, his goals and challenges. He gave me a number of opportunities to probe deeper and really unpack his objectives. I asked genuine and open probing questions and actively listened to his answers. I am genuinely interested in the life and aspirations of any mentee and I made it absolutely clear to Timothy that everything shared between us is totally confidential and non-judgmental.
What have you taught Timothy?
I hope I have given him the courage and confidence to think more strategically about how to choose his lens – opportunity vs risk. He’s a young accountant looking at where his career pathway may go and at how he can follow his passions in the broad scope of finance and make sound decisions for his future.
What are his strengths?
Tim is positive, optimistic yet cautious. He is also open-minded, willing to adapt and try new approaches and accepts feedback.
How did you build rapport?
As a mentor, I prefer not to “give” advice. I share stories sparingly – the good, the bad and the ugly – to emphasise points and actions. I also believe that greater learnings will be made if “the asker” is guided through a process of developing and considering a series of scenarios. They must evaluate risks and opportunities before deciding on and committing to taking action.
What is your current role and background?
I am self-employed, specialising in governance, business strategy and performance improvement. I have worked at senior level for government, private and not-for-profit organisations in commercial, manufacturing and service industries. I have a track record of success in organisations under change, or wanting to “get things done”.
Why did you start mentoring?
I started mentoring because I believe in the concept of “pay it down”. I was given an opportunity as a young accountant and so I have always tried to employ graduates and to provide opportunities for their growth. I became a CA ANZ mentor a few years ago and enjoyed the experience. I have since invested in additional mentoring training.
What has Timothy taught you?
I have enjoyed his enthusiasm and ambitions and learnt from his current expertise in investment and business valuation.
Have you introduced him to your network? If so, why?
I have discussed the opportunity of introducing Timothy to others who can assist him in areas that are of interest to him for the future. When he is ready to take those steps, those doors will open.
Do you have regular meetings?
We scheduled regular meetings (generally monthly) that we both committed to. We planned the next meeting each time we met. We both viewed these meetings as a priority and neither of us cancelled.
In what areas has Timothy developed?
Timothy has a lot more confidence in his ability to plan challenging conversations, and he has refined his negotiating skills. He reframes difficulties and considers how he can add value to the situation and achieve the best outcome for all.
In what areas does he still need to improve or develop?
Tim is young and life and work experiences will continue to shape his future. I hope he is now more confident and better equipped to effectively make good decisions for his future when presented with challenges and opportunities.
What benefits do you receive from mentoring?
I value the trust that Tim has placed in me. He has run things past me outside our formal meetings.
How can a mentee get the best out of mentoring?
By being open in discussing their aspirations, fears, and dreams. The environment is safe and non-judgmental. Trust is built when they hold up their end of the bargain by completing agreed actions.
Would you recommend the programme to other mentors?
Totally – it is extremely satisfying to see positive growth in a mentee. I will remain in touch with Tim. He has an exciting future in all areas of his life and he has invited me to continue to be part of his development.
Do you have other mentoring relationships? If so why?
Professional mentoring is part of my portfolio of services offered. I have other mentees and greatly enjoy acting as a sounding board and challenger.
Financial Analyst, Kiwi Wealth Investments
My mentor Joy and I had a great connection from the get-go because we have a similar sense of humour. I found that being open and having frank conversations enabled us to build rapport quickly.
How has the mentoring helped you?
It was great having a mentor outside work to be able to help me stand back and look at my finance career from a bigger picture view. It’s also been invaluable drawing on Joy’s perspective and experience in dealing with a variety of situations and getting her advice on how to approach them.
It was great having a mentor outside work to be able to help me stand back and look at my finance career from a bigger picture view.
Has the mentoring process changed your thinking?
It has made me more open to ideas, to acting on feedback and to being able to adopt an approach that asks the question: “How can I do this in a way that meets the other person’s needs best?” instead of: “How can I get this done?”
Outline your career briefly to this point.
Currently I am working at Kiwi Wealth Investments and I have been involved across fund accounting, management, financial and project accounting. But I first started in the industry with a summer internship with KPMG, then returned after graduating and progressed to Audit Supervisor, working across a range of clients including NZ Bus, Teamtalk, Origin Energy NZ, and ANZ. Then an opportunity in the financial services industry came up that promised plenty of variety and challenges and I decided it was a logical time to make the move.
What have you learned from your mentor?
As Joy and I come from different backgrounds, it was useful when she used stories from her career to understand how to apply similar strategies in different situations. Joy was also able to draw on her experiences and help me develop a wider perspective and ways of looking at the workplace and problems. I also learned from her strategies and different mental models to approach obstacles, by questioning and challenging why I thought a certain way. By finding answers myself, I was able to develop my ability to look at problems from different points of view.
What are Joy’s strengths?
Joy is great at actively listening. Her frank style in asking pointed questions helps to challenge assumptions, to get to the root of issues and to allow her to really step back, consider what is valid and then facilitate a more informed decision. She focuses on drawing out the answers from me, rather than telling me what to do or not to do.
Why did you decide to start receiving mentoring?
I have had informal mentors throughout my career as I have progressed and believed it would be useful to have a mentor outside work to act as a sounding board and offer neutral advice from someone who has the benefit of experience.
What has improved or changed/become clearer for you?
I have gained a greater appreciation of seeing a career as a journey rather than a straight path. I have also come to realise the importance that networks can have.
What advice have you acted upon?
I have put more consideration into how I frame communications.
In what areas have you have improved or still need to?
I have improved in the areas of strategic thinking, negotiation and learning more about my own strengths and weaknesses. And being more willing to take calculated risks. I still need to improve in framing communications and in developing networks.
How do you think a mentee can get the best out of mentoring?
Be willing to be open and honest, take on feedback and, most importantly, take action.
Would you recommend Mentor Exchange to other new CAs?
Definitely – it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and invaluable experience I can recommend without hesitation.
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