Time for another real-life example. Something that comes up often, which can be an internal barrier to people seeking career support. A conversation with a protege brought it top of mind…
Spoiler alert: at Protagion, our focus is on helping you achieve your career ambitions, whatever those might be i.e. from where you are now to where you want to be. We do encourage you to reflect on your route to today, yes, and this is useful information to prompt your thinking. But, please don’t feel that your past should dominate you or hold you back. Concentrate on your goal(s), and the steps/improvements you can take iteratively from here to get there. And, where the past has a particularly strong hold on you, some of our coaches have specific skills in helping you move forward to acceptance.
Back to the story… This specific conversation was with a mid-career professional who had previously shifted industries, and is looking to make another shift. Theoretically, this second shift should be mentally easier for them (having transformed themselves once before already, and expressing a preference for the ‘non-traditional approach’). However, they are conflicted with a complex set of emotions which are weighing on their mind: a lingering sense of ‘unfinished business’ when they think of their first industry and the qualifications important in it, regrets about not seeking help earlier, and stress about how these feelings are holding them back from their next shift.
Firstly, kudos to them for reaching out for support - you are very definitely not alone! The mixture of emotions has led to an ongoing cycle of anxiety, and feelings of personal disappointment and helplessness, prompting them to want to blot out these negative thoughts and further ignore the underlying challenges… Incredibly tough to deal with on your own. The great news is that they are now taking steps to get support from others who’ve walked this path before, who can act as sounding boards, and who can support them to get to where they want to be.
During our conversation, we touched on the work of Brene Brown, who they are also a big fan of. They referred regularly to having been in the ‘wilderness’, and they recognised that they have been stuck on their own, unsuccessfully trying to make progress. Towards the end of our initial conversation, they shared that they had been very apprehensive about having the chat, and I did my best to reassure them that all of us at Protagion are here to support them: career challenges are much easier to face with support from fellow professionals. A board of mentors and coaches can provide diverse angles of support needed. They used a reasonably graphic (but memorable) analogy about their distress being a boil that just keeps getting bigger because of reluctance to acknowledge it, but it takes personal courage, and perhaps medical support, to prick it so that it can heal. Here’s to helping you heal!
There are many professionals who deep down know they have an unresolved challenge or issue which is holding them back from achieving their personal goals. And, the older we get, the more ‘unfinished business’ and/or regrets we might accumulate. Exam misses, burnt bridges, seemingly irreparable corporate relationships, feelings of failure, and more. You may even have tried for years to address things on your own. If you are one of these professionals, please reach out to others for support: existing coaches you work with, your support network, or us - we’d be delighted to explore with you how our professional mentors and coaches could support you!
Earlier this year, I ran a poll on LinkedIn, seeking to understand how professionals view their professional bodies. They’re such a big part of our professional lives, from our exams to our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and our livelihoods. And, naturally, while we pay ongoing fees to them, often annually, our relationship with and expectations of them change as we mature in our careers.
Our relationships with our professional bodies
In addition to the membership fees we pay, some of us also volunteer our time to help shape our professions, perhaps by contributing to research on professional working parties and/or committees and/or presenting our insights for free at professional conferences or webinars. I was personally quite surprised when I learnt how small the percentage of a profession’s membership that volunteers generally is. Similarly, the percentage of those who vote in elections of council members is low… These point to a significant proportion of professionals who are disengaged, and only do what they are required to do to maintain their professional designation (such as meeting any minimum CPD requirements). It also amazes me how a substantial number of professionals kick into panic mode weeks or days before the deadline, grasping at content that will allow them to confirm their compliance before pushing CPD to the back of their minds for the next cycle.
On the other end, there are those who volunteer significant amounts of their time (perhaps supported by their employers) for their profession over years. Their dedication and ability to deliver on everything they’re involved in is phenomenal. A few of Protagion’s professional mentors have fulfilled roles as presidents/chairs of their professional bodies, or have contributed to the council / leadership team, so have first-hand experience.
Read more for the poll results and my reflections on them, exploration of the evolving role of professional bodies and examples of their forward-looking initiatives, and links to profession-specific pages we’ve put together for you sharing example career paths, selected mentors, and further resources for members of each profession.
One of our professional mentors, Hafsa Daware, is an expert in tax as well as a Chartered Accountant. Earlier this year, she wrote an article on careers in the Tax Profession for the IntegriTAX section of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) Accountancy SA magazine. She describes her profession as “lucrative, inspiring, challenging and versatile”, writing that she has “always had a passion for tax, and value[s] the breadth and depth of what I have been able to learn over the years from all the disciplines that I have been privileged to work with”. Such cross-functional collaboration is fundamental as “understanding a business from all angles is critical to effectively advise and guide it from a tax point of view”.
Read more for Hafsa’s thoughts on the skills required of tax professionals, the wider understanding of commercial aspects you can build through working on tax matters, the areas and roles tax professionals can work in, and some lessons from the business and tax authority perspectives.