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.
In this article, we return to the topic of specialising versus generalising as a career strategy, and expand on Protagion’s previous writing to share the views of Scott Adams, Tim Ferriss, and Erik Torenberg with our readers.
Scott Adams is most famous as the creator of Dilbert*, the renowned cartoon starring an engineer in a business setting. Scott’s own career includes majoring in economics, picking up an MBA, and working at a bank and a phone company before becoming a cartoonist. He’s naturally a fan of MBAs, advising: “...Get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.”
Tim Ferriss is also likely to need little introduction. He’s a multiple-bestselling author and popular podcast host of The Tim Ferriss Show. His books include: The 4-Hour Workweek*, The 4-Hour Body*, The 4-Hour Chef*, Tools of Titans* and Tribe of Mentors*. He’s been referred as a polymath and believes “it is possible to become world-class in almost any skill within one year”.
Erik Torenberg is a venture capitalist and co-founder of Village Global and On Deck, “where top tech talent goes to explore what’s next”.
Read more to dive into the worlds of specialists, generalists and specialised generalists, including Scott, Tim and Erik’s thoughts on the advantages and dangers, and tips for combining skills. We briefly revisit our previous article (In Pursuit of Knowledge: Specialising vs Generalising as a Career Strategy) and conclude with a 6-minute video of Tim.
In preparation for a series of interviews with Non-Executive Directors (including independent ones i.e. iNEDs) for my profession’s magazine, I’ve been doing research around the topic, and came across a helpful report by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in South Africa. The report is based on an online survey by the IoD on the recruitment, selection and appointment process for NEDs. It also references a spread of international reports for those interested in wider reading, and concludes with an overview of advice for potential NEDs and advice for nomination committees themselves.
In this article, I focus on its advice for individuals rather than the companies. Some of the advice is specific to NED roles (such as treating the interview as a discussion among potential peers), while some is relevant to general job applications as well (such as tailoring your application to the role and its requirements). In future months, we’ll share with our readers aspects of my interviews with individual NEDs, their career journeys and their tips for others considering becoming NEDs too, alongside publication of their profiles in the professional magazines.
Read more to explore the reasons companies search for new NEDs and where they look, the attributes required of NED candidates, and the IoD’s advice on preparing your application, preparing for the interviews, considering an offer, and adding value once on board.