Career success: top tips to help you progress – part 2

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ACCA member Sarfraz Nadir looks at some further ways to achieve career success.

Ask for more responsibility

Until such time as you get a coveted promotion or pay raise, you may consider asking your manager to give you more responsibility. This can include expanding your existing role or foraying into new territory.

An easy way to tackle this is to shadow an existing colleague to gain insight of their area. Another option could be to volunteer to handle someone’s workload while they are on leave. Managers are keen to build multi-skilled teams, which is helpful in succession planning. If you successfully take on the new challenge, it will put you in a strong position for growth when the opportunity presents itself.

A caveat here: you must be confident that you can take on the added burden, even temporarily. Once you put your hand up, there is no going back. Always document such arrangements with your manager and HR so that your performance can be tracked. If your request is accepted, you will likely have to slog it out without reward at first (ie carrying out your existing role in addition to the extra responsibilities). You will have to prove yourself before there is any talk of remuneration or promotion.

Have a mentor (or two)

Mentors are distinct from seniors. They can be your immediate manager at work, though I would advise against that: managers have their own interests and accountabilities, which can occasionally come into conflict with yours. For example, if a manager is heavily reliant on a team member, they might be reluctant to recommend their team member for a promotion or transfer as doing so could increase their workload.

Mentors can be senior executives in your company or ex-bosses – people who know you and what your strengths and weaknesses are. They can be your university professors, partners in firms where you trained or even friends of your parents who are in a relevant field. Ideally you should have two mentors, one from the accounting fraternity and one from outside. Once you have identified a possible mentor, have a proper discussion with them about it.

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Mentoring someone is no joke and requires investment of time and a genuine interest in one’s growth. If someone half-heartedly agrees to mentor you, thank them and find someone else. Do not expect a mentor to hand-hold in day-to-day tasks. Their interest should be in your long-term success and that is where you should frame your (quarterly or half yearly) discussions with them. Pay close attention to whatever advice you receive and, as a courtesy, let them know if you do not intend to follow it (along with the reason).

Be patient yet persistent

We must appreciate that corporate processes are not in sync with our expectations. I’ve seen people leave good jobs in haste because they couldn’t be quickly promoted after qualifying, for example, and regretting it later. Others were more patient and deployed some of the tips and tactics covered in this article to get the desired outcome.

Give back

When you eventually qualify as an ACCA member, your new-found, hard-earned success is to be relished. However, it is also a good time to think about returning something to the profession and the community.

Think about whether you can be a mentor to those who are just starting their career (maybe someone in your family or neighbourhood). Or you can share your knowledge and expertise with management trainees (interns) at work – HR will really appreciate this! Other options are to work with a charity that your employer supports. It is a great feeling to know you have contributed to someone else’s success and is something that all top tier employers look these days for when hiring new talent.

In summary, attaining your ACCA Qualification is the end of one journey and the start of another. Good luck with wherever your journey takes you.

If you haven't read part one of Sarfraz's tips, you can find it here.

About the author

Sarfraz lives in Sydney and has been an ACCA member since 2001. He draws inspiration from the lives and careers of people around him and is fascinated by what drives people to succeed. Sarfraz employs real-life examples and anecdotes in his articles and can be reached at or on LinkedIn.

More information

This article was first published in Student Accountant in March 2023Get the SA app now

Your journey: We’d love to hear about your ACCA journey so far. Email us at with your story and you could feature in a forthcoming issue of SA.

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