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How should aspiring leaders in accounting approach their working life?

An interview with Patrick Finnegan

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Patrick Finnegan
Patrick Finnegan

We asked Patrick Finnegan, Retired Board Member of the International Accounting Standards Board, and Advisor to the Cambridge Master of Accounting, for his view on what ambitious early-career professionals looking for leadership roles in accounting should be focussed on:

  1. Be curious
    For those with an ambition to take up leadership roles in an accounting-related field, I encourage you to be curious — read everything you can about the current technical, legislative, and political developments shaping the profession with a view to understanding how businesses and the environment are changing.
  2. Seek variety
    Seek a variety of assignments, embrace change, and observe the leadership skills of your supervisors and peers. Analyse why some projects, groups and businesses are more successful than others. For those undertaking the Cambridge Master of Accounting, make the most of the professional development opportunities offered, step outside your comfort zones, get involved in student-led conferences, networking forums, and employer information sessions.
  3. Have fun and keep learning
    You will be successful when you are having fun, enjoying your work and, if you are fortunate enough, to find something about which you are passionate.The common thread running through my career has been working in the public interest — as an auditor, regulator, credit analyst and an accounting standard setter. In each role, I was fortunate to work with outstanding role models who inspired and coached me. When you are continuously learning and working in a team setting, you are in the best position to make a difference and enjoy your work.
  4. Give something back
    One of the most powerful ways you can give back to the profession is to offer one’s experience and guidance to students – helping them to make informed and sound decisions; offering one’s experiences about what you have learned in life and making that relevant to the classroom. It enhances a student’s education and offers a great sense of satisfaction. This is why I’m an Advisor to the Cambridge Master of Accounting.