Do you baulk at the idea of working late on a vital project or rush to offer
your assistance? Answer our light-hearted quiz to find out if you’re ferociously
ambitious and heading for a coveted position within a FTSE 100 company or happy
to plod along achieving a finer work, life balance.
A technical memo has been circulated. Do you:
a) Read it immediately because it makes interesting reading. You wonder if
that would also impact blah, blah, blah, and make a note to ask.
b) Save it in the file you keep precisely for this purpose.
c) Skim it quickly, but don’t really grasp the implications on the first
reading. Somebody will tell you all about it when the time is right.
It’s late on Friday. Your boss dumps work on your desk that must be
finished by first thing Monday. Do you:
a) Silently cheer. Another opportunity to rub shoulders with the big wigs in
the office ‘Saturday Club’.
b) Groan. You’re going to miss watching all five Star Wars films back-to-back on
Sky. But you know you’ll enjoy the work once you
c) Grumble. If you cut a few corners you can still make it to the pub leaving
your jacket over the back of the chair and your laptop open in case anyone comes
looking for you.
The tea lady comes into the room during a conference meeting, do
a) Compliment her on her new pinny, and inquire politely whether there are
any jammy dodgers left whilst dazzling her with your Colgate ‘ring of
b) Do nothing. The tea lady always serves you first anyway although you have
no idea why.
c) Wait your turn and hope that you don’t end up with half a Rich Tea biscuit
like last week.
A new project has come in. Do you:
a) Put forward your colleague Andrew. The job is for a ‘dead-end’ client and
offers little chance for you to shine.
b) Volunteer to help. The job provides lots of scope to run around other
managers/directors ‘to get their thoughts on things’and name drop the other
people you’ve spoken to.
c) You’d LOVE to do that job, but it looks like Andrew’s got in there first.
You think it’s time for a promotion. Do you:
a) Let everyone know that you want a
promotion and give the name of the
person occupying the post you want to a headhunter.
b) Take up running. The head of department runs marathons and trains at
lunchtime. You can ‘bump’ into him on his route and curry favour setting you
up for the next vacancy.
c) Give it another year and see what happens.
You’ve spotted a significant anomaly during the course of an audit.
Your boss isn’t around for you to discuss it immediately. Do you:
a) Wait until the next meeting to disclose the problem in front of the
department head, putting yourself in the spotlight and taking all the credit.
b) Take responsibility for the problem and step into your bosses shoes. What
would he or she do?
c) Call his or her mobile and Blackberry but, strangely, there’s no reply.
You’ll have to wait until he or she gets back from a two week trip to the
Most successful finance directors or partners have a strong sense of self and
are painfully ambitious, but your rabid ambition is probably making you more
enemies than friends.
Partners and directors at the top of their organisations tend to be very sharp
guys. They have a keen natural intelligence and take on new ideas and concepts
quickly. This natural ability with accountancy is often coupled with a strong
‘presence’ and charisma. But beware! Andrew Fastow the CEO of Enron was also
renowned as extremely charismatic. Excessive charm can also lead to danger.
Investment banker-style arrogance and a drive for personal success to the
exclusion of all else, doesn’t work in the accountancy profession. You can’t
ride rough-shod over colleagues and then expect the broad support you need to
get promotion in business or in practice.
Climbing the career ladder depends on who you know. Successful accountants are,
on the whole, genial and outgoing personalities. Try to establish natural points
in common with colleagues and think team work and collaboration rather than
Success comes in two forms: those that are technically brilliant and those that
are brilliant at marketing themselves. Both
have a genuine feel for accountancy, are naturally gifted and have a strong work
ethic happy to put in the long hours. You are destined for success.
In the early days it’s more important to be technically brilliant (even a bit
nerdy) but inter-personal skills gain more importance the further up the ladder
You are confident, able to engage with colleagues and superiors and are usually
good at public speaking. People know when you enter the room without needing to
Bosses will happily trust confident employees and reward them with more
responsibility. Charm makes it easier to gain that trust which is even more
important in business where you need to get on with people from many different
backgrounds and jobs and are also more likely to change jobs more frequently.
You stand out from the crowd. You get to know the right people by volunteering
to work on the right projects, joining the right clubs and generally putting
yourself in the right place at the right time. Shrinking violets need not apply.
You quickly work out the politics of a company and identify who to stick close
To get on in the accountancy world you need to not only work long hours but
enjoy it, too. A half-hearted attitude just won’t cut the mustard. It is far
more difficult for shy, or insular personality types to get the recognition they
need to progress either in a professional firm or in business. Bosses will doubt
the ability of nervous employees. Unless you are a technical whiz kid, your
quietness and unwillingness to put yourself centre stage will hold back your
The quiz was compiled by Max Williamson is the director of
Careersinaudit.com with the help of a panel of experts from Deloitte, Bell and
Clements, and Navigant Consulting
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