WHEN I FIRST appeared in Accountancy Age’s Young Accountants’ list in 2004, I didn’t really feel like a ‘One to watch’. I was working hard, doing my job as best I could and generally just trying to get on. I have always loved what I do, and I guess it was partly that passion and enthusiasm that got me noticed. I often put my hand in the air for new challenges and wasn’t afraid to get out of my comfort zone.
I have learnt since then that self-promotion is a necessary evil. We are all taught from an early age that showing off is bad manners and therefore it doesn’t feel right to keep harping on about how great you are. But that’s not the same as being confident in your abilities. If you have achieved good things, you must make sure someone knows. Yes, go about it nicely. Yes, keep it measured. But you need to tell people.
I made partner in 2000 and was still a relatively new partner during the Andersen crisis. If there is one thing I have learned over and over in my career, it is that change happens: departments merge, leaders move on, businesses get taken over and sometimes they even collapse. I have also learnt that promotion rarely comes to the corporately disillusioned. So when change happens, listen to the reasoning, embrace what is good and offer to help.
And in every business, there will be a paperwork game that goes hand in hand with promotion. Appraisals, upward feedback, self assessments, client references, development points – the list is endless. My advice is to be a genius at the paperwork game. Complete, timely, detailed, measurable. You don’t want to just ‘get by’; your paperwork needs to shout ‘promote me’ at anyone looking at it. Believe me, it will set you apart from the crowd.
If you Google my name, the Accountancy Age ‘Ones to Watch’ article still appears as one of the top searches eight years later. And I am still asked about it – I did a radio interview only two weeks ago, where the interviewer mentioned it in my introduction. It meant a huge amount to me and I’m slightly relieved that I have done one or two things since, that seem to have merited my inclusion. After all, being recognised for your achievements makes (most) of the hard work worthwhile.
Penny Avis, former Deloitte partner turned author of the ‘Never Mind the Botox’ women’s fiction series
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