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Lessons for Upcoming Ethnic Accountants

Role models are crucial in Chartered Accountancy. Chartered accountants Modupeola Adeyemo, Biyi Oloko and Vivian Latigi tell their inspirational stories and give their tips for excelling in the profession, here are just a few:

Students should get someone who relates to them and can support, guide and advocate for them throughout their training and career – whether a mentor, navigator, career coach or sponsor. “I have mentors to help me navigate through interesting waters,” says Biyi. “Somebody who has experience, who can relate to your skillset, challenges and issues and be willing to help guide you. It’s difficult to get to the top but if you have a hand helping you will get there sooner.” Firms may have mentoring programmes, or students could find mentors through their education provider, for example.

Small practice is a great way to get wide and varied experience from many areas in the accountancy business, and provides a unique variety of skills that can set students apart, particularly if they go onto a bigger firm. “It teaches you a range of skills and you are able to adapt really well to new environments,” Vivian says.

British Black students should also try and get invaluable experience working in an African country, Biyi believes, for experience of “being among people who look like you” and “broadening the mindset”. “It’s worthwhile to get your firm to second you to an African country because you have a reference point,” he says. “If you have doubts about yourself or you need confidence, take some time out and go and work in one of the African countries.”

Before choosing their career path, students should do their research. Getting opportunities to learn about the industry and network with people is crucial, and students shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions to identify if the industry, role or company is one they would enjoy and progress in. “Network,” says Modupeola. “Don’t be shy. I’m learning how to use my voice and I am learning how to be present.” As well as attending networking events or social events within the industry, students can use social media to network with other professionals.

Students should seek out and use any support systems and networks for ethnic people working within the company or industry – such as ICAEW’s Black Talent Members Community or New Gen Accountants. This will allow them to connect with other people, share stories, get support and know they are working for a firm that is listening to under-represented groups in the workforce. “Handholding totally makes a difference in making you feel more confident and supported in your role,” Modupeola says.

(This post originally from the ICAEW)