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Professional Development Advice

Kate West's Profile

I'm speaking to a group of college students later in the week about creating a professional growth strategy for themselves. If you could talk to your college-aged self, what advice would you give about career development? Thanks in advance for your counsel! Kate West President / CFO The C Corps


Didzis Silis
Title: Business Development Manager
Company: Amberfide
(Business Development Manager, Amberfide) |

At college age, most students will probably not yet be aware of all the potential career opportunities out there. Therefore, I would encourage them to be proactive - participate in business competitions, help with creating business plans, take part in networking / career development events (such as this one where you will speak at), get involved in a variety of projects / initiatives. This should help bulding / expanding their network and opening up new opportunities for them, as well as making it clearer what professional field actually interests them.
Good luck with your presentation!

Kate West
Title: CFO
Company: West Consulting Group
(CFO, West Consulting Group) |

Thank you for your insights!

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Marketable skills are what employers pay for.

The concrete ability to get specific things done efficiently and to maximum benefit. Remember the old adage, "time is money".

Certifications or college degrees only imply an ability and the understanding of the theories, not the actual ability to apply real-life to those theories.

The matching of theory to practice is a life-long on-going process.

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Syleana Nairn Mann
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: SAT
(Accounting Manager, SAT) |

In addition to the above commenter, I would tell myself to look for opportunities to intern in the field of study, and while interning take on as many projects as you can. Really get an understanding of that career path. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most people starting out was in your position at some point. Take a trip to another country. See how the rest of the world lives. Assess where you see yourself professionally, financially, personally (spouse, children) in 5 year, 10 years, 15 years from now, be specific. Take some time to read books on professional development (outside of the normal textbook). Don’t be afraid to take chances professionally. Think outside the box and textbooks. A lot of times no one knows the answer, and your opinion or idea could make a difference. Always be respectful to those you meet and come in contact with. Never leave a job on a sour note, no matter how bad it was. You never know who you will meet again or who knows who.

This is really great that you're doing this.

Kate West
Title: CFO
Company: West Consulting Group
(CFO, West Consulting Group) |

Thank you for taking the time to provide your insights.

Darryl Delwo, CPA, CMA
Title: Controller
Company: Sulvaris Inc
(Controller, Sulvaris Inc) |

The approach I use when mentoring college students (no matter what discipline), and soon to be designated accountants, is...

1) Pursue your passion, where your thirst for the experience, knowledge and results, which gravitates you to the point where you will do that job for Free! (without compensation), however a company will compensate you immensely for it.

2) I always follow this up with the reality that not every role/experience will seem like a good/positive one (especially if the person ties a lot of emotion to these experiences, whether positive or negative). However if you are mindful enough, you will understand each role/experience is there as a learning one which builds the individual skill set.

Career development will then be driven out of the above results.

Seek individuals who are currently in the position who are pursuing, and ask how they got there and if they would mentor you. For that matter, always ask your manager their feelings on mentoring, this will provide you with a verification on whether they are engaged or not.

Look across and up the organization for various roles that you think would be interested, and ask those currently in those position how they got there.

3) Your goal should be to find a number of mentors, who you can trust and rely on to assist in your personal development. The key is finding those who can step out of themselves to assist someone else's growth.

4) Last thing is, the Pursuit for passion should also entail your hobbies, ensure you become more than just the job. Read, travel, volunteer, view other cultures, roles, events outside of your professional, as these too will assist in creating character in you.

I always tie the above items to some personal story or some event I am aware of the details about (while remaining confidential regarding the who is involved).

Great you are assisting others and good luck in your presentation!

Kate West
Title: CFO
Company: West Consulting Group
(CFO, West Consulting Group) |

Great counsel! Thank you for your insights.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

One "professional development" (yes, I placed quotation marks) advice that students always forget is the importance and nurturing of their network (and the importance of networking in general) they have in college. The "nerd" or the "weird" guy/gal sitting next to them may be their next boss or the contact that can give them the recommendation for their next position or may tap them as a co-founder, etc.

vincent Matrisciano
Title: Sr Dir
Company: Colgate Group
LinkedIn Profile
(Sr Dir, Colgate Group) |

First as many of the youngest professionals of late appear to believe that a rapid communication Manor somehow denotes intelligence or enthusiasm I would encourage them to learn the skill of listening the more you can get the person sitting across from you to tell you the better you will be strategically able to answer, respond or capitalize on that information. Second learn the skills of networking as that is the key to doing anything in today's world especially if it's going to be movement from one opportunity to another. Finally the singular most important skill for them to learn is how to sell even if they're never asked to sell to the outside world in their job they will need to sell to get a promotion, to get budget or placement on a project they're interested and they will need to sell themselves within the organization and to get into the organization.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

I found that being willing to learn new things, to have a positive attitude and to recognize that there are others who can take your job if you aren't both doing it right and being likable - will help you get ahead. I'd also add, it pays to be observant - learn how others interact, dress, design their work spaces,etc. It will give you valuable clues about the culture of the organization.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: VP, Thought Leadership
Company: Stampli
LinkedIn Profile
(VP, Thought Leadership, Stampli) |

It is about having a robust skill set. Proformative just launched a career skills assessment tool ( . It takes 5 minutes. This will help you identify any skills gaps you have relative to career success in the Office of the CFO. Then address your gaps, Proformative Academy can help with that as well. You can't learn success in finance from a book!

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

First, college isn't necessarily about getting a job; it's about getting an education and furthering your development. As far as degrees go, pick something you are truly interested in and don't worry about making the wrong choice or the "right choice"; there are many choices that you will likely like and be fine doing, and your degree may not even match up with your career but could still augment you professionally.

Frank Sproule
Title: CEO

In an Adecco Staffing survey of 500 top corporate executives in 2014, 92 percent believed there is a serious gap in workforce skills and 22 percent of respondents saw a lack of technical skills as the reason. What was more eye opening was that 44% or the executives said that graduates lack soft skills like communication, critical thinking and team work. Research indicates that words only account for 7 percent of good communication while tone of voice, pace and body language make up 93 percent. Most of us communicate with each other today by voice mail, texting, email or faxing. Is it any wonder there are communication problems. The old saying that we hire for "Hard Skills" and fire for the lack of "Soft Skills" is still in play.

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