Stand out from the pack

November 2020

Today’s professional accountant needs to be different from the rest. Here Pantelis C. Fouli explains how you can do this.

This is not an article to tell you how, what and when to study. Here I’ll attempt to touch upon the number-one skill a professional accountant should possess to stand out from of the pack.

This was inspired by a speech my personal development coach, Michael Virardi, gave to a large group of freshman college students here in Cyprus.

If this advice on how to stand out from the pack becomes available to us even before we commence our studies or even during our studies, imagine the impact one could make once qualified and out in this dog-eat-dog world, fighting for a place at the table.

The number-one skill to possess to be a successful professional is differentiation.

The idea of the professional accountant stepping his/her foot out into the professional world should be akin to what the late Rolondo Virardi would say, and that was: “When you meet someone (either over the phone or face to face) and you turn your back (or hang up) there are only three things they can say about you: something positive, something negative and nothing at all. The last two options for me are negative.”

Remember, we are responsible for the lasting memory we leave behind and this responsibility is ours on a daily basis. And to be memorable, you need to be different.

Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” And change is definitely well apparent in 2020.

So how do we differentiate from the pack and give ourselves the upper hand in this global economy that is changing by the day?

Information is power, and to update our primitive brain (who still faces the same issues they did millions of years ago) is to update, or upgrade, our soft skills.

To be more adaptable, to be able to communicate better, have more empathy and resilience, work more efficient as a team and develop a greater sense for your emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ).

EQ is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

The skills developed by professional accountants during their studies will get the job done; however, developing a greater sense of EQ will get the job done in an extraordinary fashion.

Information is out there in abundance, but the professional who manages to communicate with his audience and find them the right information and how it will impact them will be ahead of the pack. That is being different in today’s society.

Working from home (remotely) now gives corporations the flexibility to hire from a global portfolio. This is great news for us all in the sense of the opportunities, but on the flip side not so good since now the talent pool is flooded.

This is precisely why today’s professional accountant stepping out into the corporate world needs to be focused on differentiation, to separate from the pack.

Be the first person to enter the room, if you are on time you are late. Do not wait until you graduate from college or university to start building your personal brand, start today.

And one of the best platforms to do this, for free, is LinkedIn. Life is too short to learn everything, so learn from others on LinkedIn. Adopt a 7/7/7 philosophy (as taught by Michael Virardi), which is to make sure you respond to any given matter in:

• 7 seconds (if you’re not doing anything urgent).
• 7 minutes (if time permits).
• 7 hours (if it has to be done at the end of a working day).

We are flooded by professionals who do not even have the common courtesy to respond to sincere requests in a timely manner.

Who do you think has more chances of landing that job if you arrive early, have done your homework and who has also been super-prompt with any requests from the prospective employer?

Who do you think will land that project if your proposal lands on the prospective client’s desk in record time?

Be different, stand out, make yourselves and your organisation proud.
Buddha once said everyone would experience 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows in their lifetime.

Make sure you embrace this quote and adopt a mindset that allows you to have an impeccable attitude when you have nothing and yet patience when you have everything.

To finish, my coach always reminds me that while I may be having a bad day, it’s not a bad life. Life is about choices and there are only ever two: be positive or be very positive.

• Pantelis C. Fouli is ACCA qualified and an ACCA Advocate and Student Mentor.

Anyone wishing to get in touch with him can connect via LinkedIn, but please mention in a personal message that you are PQ reader.