In the first of our words of wisdom from the exceptional women leaders throughout our member firms and across the MGI Worldwide accounting network, Susan van der Valk of MGI Bass Gordon in Cape Town, talks candidly about her career and shares a few words of wisdom.
Hi, I’m Susan
I’ve been fortunate to always know what I wanted to do career wise – there was never any doubt that I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant (SA). My journey started straight after school when I joined BDO in Pretoria as a trainee accountant and studied for my degree part time through the University of South Africa. A year later I made the exciting move to Cape Town where I became part of the team at MGI Bass Gordon as an audit senior.
In 2004 I completed my Honours qualification which meant I was then eligible to write the first of the CA(SA) qualifying exams. It took me 3 attempts to pass and while many wondered why I kept trying, the answer was simple. I wanted to be a CA(SA) and I wanted to be a partner. I was not going to give up on my goal because of a few setbacks. On 1 March 2010 I fulfilled my dream and was made partner at MGI Bass Gordon.
It has not always been an easy journey and had I not received so much support, encouragement and understanding I might not have succeeded. It takes grit and determination to achieve goals and dreams, but while it is up to you to achieve them, the environment you create around you is what helps make it possible.
We are all human. As much as we would like to leave our personal battles at the office door each day, it is not always possible – and that’s ok. Emotions are always better to share with someone you trust rather than to hold on to, even when you are a business leader.
The best advice I received…
Failure is part of life. If you experience failure, allow yourself 24 hours to feel the disappointment, anger, sadness and all the other feelings it brings but then, start to move past it. Begin working on your plan to move forward and try again.
And, what NOT to do!
Do not think you are on your own. Never spend more than 15 minutes on a problem before reaching out for help. No one wants to see you fail and the people around you will usually be more willing to offer guidance than you may realise!
By celebrating the successes and talent of our female leaders, we hope to inspire positive change throughout the MGI Worldwide network and in the accounting profession. Did you find these Words of Wisdom useful? Please tell us!
Join MGI Worldwide’s Women Who Lead Group to explore opportunities and support the next generation of future leaders of accounting contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
MGI Worldwide with CPAAI, is a top 20 ranked global accounting network and association with almost 9,000 professionals, accountants and tax experts in some 400 locations in over 100 countries around the world.