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More than just a number: the path to a varied career as a Chartered Accountant

Joseph Ong

Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant can enhance a career in surprising ways. The varied experiences of members across the globe reflects the variety of options available to CAs.

In her working life, Karen Hennessey has held the roles of CEO, consultant and entrepreneur. Now Chief Executive with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, she says accountancy “opens doors to a wide range of opportunities”.

Varied skills

Her message for aspiring CAs is that the qualification delivers both a technical grounding and an ability to manage teams in an agile way. “Not only have you a technical skill base but you also have a foundation that will bring you into any leadership role,” she says.

Joseph Ong, MD of 1-Group in Singapore, says chartered accountants are highly employable. The qualification “means never needing to worry about not having work,” he adds. “As I get more senior, my inputs are always valued, whether I’m giving advice in a corporate finance environment or as a strategy consultant. People treat me as an expert. Being a chartered accountant helps a lot… people know there is a certain way we work,” Joseph says.

Comprehensive training

Training as a CA provides a basis for understanding how a business operates, according to Laila Giwa, head of finance at Skullcandy International in Zurich. “As a chartered accountant, you have to go through a lot in your training. You have to learn about business law, how to set up a company, how to finance a company, how to audit a company, how to do the accounting… you learn a great deal about business and that can be very valuable for your colleagues and your organisation.”

Career boost

Laila adds: “Being a chartered accountant has helped me immeasurably. People look at ‘CA’ on my CV and they understand that I’ve worked really hard, that I have a certain degree of knowledge and it opens up a lot of doors. People are impressed by it … and it really can boost your career.”

Christabel Michel Banda, CEO with the Insurers Association of Zambia, agrees. “As a Chartered Accountant, you are taught how to run a business, to ensure that the business is solvent, and that the finances of the business are kept in a proper manner. I’ve been able to use the skills I’ve learned in my various assignments in my career,” she says.