Dear Member,

Career lessons I’ve learnt

This monthly piece is usually an opportunity to share with you how the FTA is going, what’s new, what’s coming up. This month, instead of a window on the association, I’m opening a window on my career journey (the pinnacle so far is of course, being FTA president!) and what I’ve learnt. There have been many ups, several downs, some excellent times with quality colleagues and a significant amount of hard slog.

Looking back, here are the three most valuable lessons I’ve learnt during my career journey. 

  1. Broaden: your skill base, your outlook, your network, your experiences

    Why? Whether you choose to take a course, open your mind to new possibilities, go to an industry event or take your career in an unexpected direction, you will be following a path you’ve not taken before, pushing yourself into a zone where you’re forced to extend yourself. You’ll likely make new contacts along the way so you’re increasing your ability to add value and connect people in the future (and expect nothing in return for doing so).

    How? You could join a professional association and attend learning events where you can connect with others, volunteer within your community, or do a course (related to your career or not – as long as it has the potential to broaden your knowledge).

  2. Extend: go outside your comfort zone; take chances and opportunities that stretch you; back yourself

    Why? Navigating your next career move can be confronting, but if you can feel the fear and do it anyway, you’ll end up with increased resilience, more confidence, and some knowledge and experience under your belt. Making mistakes is a natural part of being human, and you need to accept you are likely to make them at some point. If you approach this challenge head on instead of ducking and weaving, you’re taking control of your direction. The difference? Instead of being buffeted about helplessly by life, you’re making an attempt to steer. It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive.

How? It could be as small as speaking up more in meetings, or taking the lead on a project. You could go for a promotion (one you really want but are worried you won’t get), accept a speaking invitation or take the biggest leap of all and start your own business.

  1. Learn leadership: practice self-awareness, lead by example

    Why? Your value as a corporate (and world) citizen increases when you are fully accountable, can lead change, and have the power to influence outcomes and other people (without shouting down everyone in the room).

How? This is certainly a skill that comes with experience. Increase your knowledge and leadership skills by taking leadership courses, finding a mentor and then, further down the track, being a mentor, and actively seeking leadership roles e.g. project sponsor. If you stick to your career and your ambitions, there will come a time when you will be the most experienced person in a meeting, or the one who knows the most about a topic. Once you’re there, it’s time to generously share that information and experience with those following you.

In summary, my advice to anyone new to treasury or finance or anyone keen to progress their career, no matter where they are now is to broaden your horizons, embrace new opportunities, and practice leadership as early and as often as you can.

If you would like to broaden your horizons by attending educational and networking events, you could always begin with the FTA Conference in November. Join the best and brightest minds at the Gold Coast for a couple of days in November and give yourself a knowledge and networking boost.

Mike Christensen FFTP
FTA President