Date posted: 3/11/2017 5 min read

How to support aspiring CAs to succeed

Veronica Beilby outlines optimal learning support for candidates combining work and study during the CA Program

In Brief

  • Time management is the key to juggling study and work
  • Face to face workshops successful in building confidence and relationships
  • Communication skills are beneficial for employers and career progression

Being new to the workforce and managing your first full time job together is a big enough task. Work coupled with a demanding study load means aspiring CAs have their work cut out. Yet the seemingly impossible happens with the right support and determination – over 3000 candidates graduate from the CA Program each year in Australia and NZ.

Veronica Beilby, CA, National Finance Learning and Development Leader, at Flight Centre Travel Group and CA Masterclass facilitator outlines the benefits of additional study support and what employers can do to ensure their staff are placed on the right road to career progression during the CA Program.

Veronica Beilby CA

The biggest hurdles to success

According to Beilby “the biggest challenge is that candidates completely under-estimate the time required for the CA Program.” She says “these are highly intelligent people, who found it easy to manage their timetables and lives at university. Whereas, the CA Program is a whole new ball game, involving what is often a more than full time role, and a study load larger than a bachelor degree. Establishing a study routine requires a lot of practice and discipline especially when there is precious little time to spare.

If we’re looking for silver linings this heavy work and study load teaches candidates to be extremely good at time management. Like the old saying goes, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. And Beilby says,

“Time management, prioritising tasks and meeting deadlines sets them up for a disciplined career.”

Face to face learning is key motivator

In Beilby’ s experience as a facilitator, the main benefit of additional study support for CA Program candidates struggling with particular modules is the face to face workshops. These free up their time, allowing them to focus, stay up to date and get the maximum out of workshops.

“Online study provides a big opportunity to cram at the end before an exam. But the way CA Study Masterclass is structured doesn’t let them do that. They can practice online assessments which builds confidence, and they walk away grateful.”

She says the face to face public workshop experience is particularly beneficial for small firms. Where there’s only one person undertaking CA Study Masterclass, or a particular subject, forming a support network is a huge opportunity.

Facilitators encourage participants to exchange details, form study groups and support networks because they understand the value of these relationships. Beilby says,

“The bonds formed from shared late nights and sugar-fuelled anguish can last a lifetime. Going through the stress and demands of the designation together forms incredible friendships that will help you in life as well as business.”

Communication skills are like gold

Improving communication skills goes hand in hand with developing friendships and networks. Employers as well as candidates benefit, and would be wise to encourage their CAs given “the client bases of businesses, especially smaller ones and at start up are their friends.”

Candidates who undertake CA Study Masterclass emerge, from Beilby’s observations, as high quality communicators.

“Their development is astounding. Many students are fresh out of university and haven’t attended lectures, with many available as podcasts. As a result they are often not great communicators.”

Big picture learning and practical application

Facilitators who are highly skilled at engaging candidates, set the tone for a positive learning experience. The workshops help candidates to practically apply technical knowledge to their role and gain commercial acumen to progress their career.

“We talk to them and provide well-rounded experience for them to process in their role. We encourage them to listen, see things from others’ perspectives, and provide a solid safe learning environment where they can think outside the box and not be fearful of getting it wrong.”

Candidates living the dream

The positive experience of CA Masterclass is demonstrated by a star performer who attended the workshops Beilby facilitated and went on to great things following the CA Program.

Beilby commented that Ashleigh Miles sat shy at the back of the first workshop and had lots of questions at the end. “It’s a leap of faith when you do that but I saw she valued the time invested and each workshop she came back braver, sharing her ideas.”

Miles says that CA Masterclass helped support her through the CA program by making her accountable in the workshops. “I walked away feeling accomplished, confident and well prepared after every session.”

After completing the CA program, Miles wanted to fulfil a dream she’d had for 10 years to move to New York and live and work as an accountant.

“I quit my job, packed my bags and headed for the big apple by myself. I managed to obtain an accounting role at Related Companies, a well-known private real estate company in the U.S. I now work on the largest property development in the history of the United States, Hudson Yards.”

CA Study Masterclass

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