“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition. ” – Indira Gandhi (1917-1984); Prime Minister Of India
(Pictured below from left to right: Stan Gershengoren, Jim Turley, Lauren Carr)
This past week, I was flown to Disney World by Ernst & Young for the International Intern Leadership Conference. Some of the speakers during the conference included Jim Turley, Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, Steve Howe, Americas Area Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, and Rick Alden, Founder of Skullcandy.
At the end of their speeches, we had the opportunity to ask questions. One of the biggest lessons I took from this conference was to always go to work, do your best, and embrace opportunities presented to you. Jim Turley had no idea when he interned in the Houston office that he would one day make partner, let alone be Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young. One of the speakers stated that many of the positions he has held at Ernst & Young were new positions, meaning that he was the first person with that specific title. He could not have possibly aspired to hold some of the positions he has held because they were not positions available when he joined the firm.
Many of us accountants have “Type A” personalities and want to make a career plan now. I suggest taking a step back and keeping your options open. You never know what opportunities will knock on your door. Throughout our careers we will possibly have the opportunities to move up in the firm, leave the firm, move to another city, move to another country, switch service lines, etc.
There are many uncertainties in our lives, but one thing we can be sure of is that if we go to work every day and do our best, we will greatly increase our chances of succeeding. You do not become partner in a public accounting firm by showing up to work late and slacking off. You do not become CEO of a company by doing the bare minimum to not get fired. As Vincent Lombardi put it, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Many of your coworkers will slack off, and it will be tempting to join them, but hard work does get noticed. Also, the more you work the more you learn. If you finish an assignment early and ask your supervisor for another task, you will inevitably be noticed and have the opportunity to work on new projects. Do not be afraid to say yes to new opportunities even if it may mean more work. Many times the knowledge gained through all of the hard work will benefit you in the future.
One speaker at the conference said that he made some lateral moves and even a demotion, but all of it led to where he is today. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Thomas Edison (1847-1931); Inventor, Businessman)