In your career, will you tick all the right boxes or think outside of them?

EY Australia

I was recently asked to share my top tips for owning your career with participants of Engage with EY, a program designed to create a community of women who are interested in a career with EY who are looking to grow their skillset and expand their mindset. 

With over a decade’s worth of auditing, accounting and consulting experience, I am still very much enjoying my own unique career journey, which also includes the pleasure of co-leading EY Oceania Gender Network. 

The Engage with EY program brings to life the principle that each person’s career path is unique and invites participants to consider "What if your career didn’t follow a familiar path, but forged a new one?" With this in mind, here are my top tips for owning your career:

1. Try not to worry about the way things are 'supposed' to be

There is no 'right’ order of events or amount of time it should take to reach a particular position or career milestone. Personal and work life are interwoven, they ebb and flow and flex to make room for each other (or sometimes squeeze each other out!). Each of us does things differently and that’s ok, which leads to…

2. Your uniqueness is your superpower

Are you an accountant who is good at writing or art? Do you see things differently to others? Do you sometimes feel out of your depth, or out-of-place? Rather than seeing these things as further evidence that you are an imposter, perhaps this means you just have another point of view. A different angle might be just the thing that’s needed to solve some of the toughest problems.

3. Focus on process and outcome, not how smart you look

When you shift the focus towards trying to get the right outcome, it’s easier to stop worrying about what other people think and ask the necessary questions to get the job done. Wanting to be seen as the smartest person in the room (or at least not to be discovered to be an imposter) can be debilitating and keep you from taking necessary actions to move the project in the right direction.

4. Go where you are celebrated – and celebrate others

We all have development needs, things we aren’t so good at, but when your manager keeps you solely focussed on trying to ’fix’ these shortcomings, it’s draining. You can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to improve yet only make incremental change. On the other hand, when your manager also recognises and supports you to further grow your strengths and talents, it is energising and can allow you to supercharge your performance.

5. Cultivate an abundance mindset

People who believe there is enough success, enough money, enough relationships and enough information to go around are willing to share. These people have the capacity to be kind and to help others to achieve their goals. They build better relationships and better teams and ultimately are more successful than those who believe resources are scarce.

In summary, a successful career calls for both an internal and external focus. You need to cultivate a self-awareness that recognises the unique value you bring to the table through your individual experiences and point of view. At the same time, none of us has all the answers. Seeking help and helping others ultimately leads to us all succeeding as a collective.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author, not Ernst & Young. This article provides general information, does not constitute advice and should not be relied on as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Lara Eretz | Director | Financial Accounting and Advisory Services | Ernst & Young, Australia