Throughout my career I have had many opportunities to reach beyond the general realm of accounting to explore other facets of the industry. Traveling abroad, reaching outside of my comfort zone and volunteering have all helped me develop a robust and fulfilling career. I hope that you find the following tips as helpful in your career as I have in mine.
1. Communicate effectively. Strive to communicate with all levels of your organization. While oral and written communications are both critical skills, don’t forget that being an avid listener also is a large component of effective communication.
2. Stretch beyond your comfort zone. Go beyond the boundaries of your current job description to take on tasks that will provide additional experience and knowledge. Offering your services to a project or department with which you wouldn’t normally work increases your knowledge about the company as a whole. For example, I always considered myself to be a generalist in the profession. I knew a little about everything. But when I moved to treasure risk management and tax, I was able to learn more about the business itself and operations.
3. When given the opportunity, travel. Of course not all of us are afforded the opportunity. But if you are given the chance and you have no personal commitments, take the opportunity. In the mid-90s R.J. Reynolds moved its headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland. At the time I was single and didn’t have a family so I decided to relocate. Relocating gave me a better grasp on international business and accounting and allowed greater personal development.
4. Develop and maintain a rich professional network. Strive to stay in contact with previous colleagues and other business contacts. Maintain relationships by picking up the phone to say hello or to arrange a meeting for coffee or lunch. Work to expand your network by developing new contacts and relationships at work, conferences and business meetings, as well as in professional organizations, charitable work and daily life. Strive to be accessible and approachable so others will be more likely to seek you out and make you a part of their network.
5. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Serve as a volunteer for a charitable organization even if it is only a once a month or a one-time event. Whatever the extent, your help is always needed and will be appreciated. Consider performing a leadership role for a professional or charitable organization or writing an article for a professional publication. This type of giving back allows you to grow as a person, develop different skill sets and help others.
Pam Heye is a certified public accountant and senior international treasury and risk management professional. Pam resides in Raleigh, NC where most recently she was the Vice President of Treasury and Risk Management for Sensus Metering Systems. She has worked in Geneva, Switzerland for JT International S.A. as Director of Risk Management and RJ Reynolds Tobacco International as Director of Treasury Planning and Analysis.