Speak Up and Speak Well
By Cynthia Ainslie, Student Career Counsellor
If your communication skills need improvement, you likely are missing out on better jobs or promotions. The ability to clearly and professionally convey information is critical to career success at every stage. Research confirms that good communication and teamwork are the skills that employers value most in job candidates.
“The most common barrier to successful employment for the CGA students I work with is definitely communication,“ says Christine Horodyski, executive recruiter at Ajilon Finance. “It’s a must at the senior level. The best thing students can do for their careers is to join Toastmasters or take a business communication course.”
Accountants today need the ability to speak and write professionally not only to win jobs, but to advance to senior level positions where decision-making, strategic analysis, and inter-departmental collaboration are increasingly common. They must be able to convey a professional image and speak confidently with clients about in-depth technical issues.
Students who speak English as a second language must ensure their language skills are proficient, especially in speaking. According to a recent major study from Statistics Canada tracking immigrants to Canada, a strong speaking knowledge of English is the major factor that increases employability and opportunities to use professional skills. Completing a suitable ESL or public speaking course, preferably targeted to business or finance communication, dramatically improves prospects for academic and career success. Find the right training program for you and do it as early in your CGA studies as possible.
To help students prepare for the advanced communication skills required for senior level studies and employment, Business Communications (CM1) is now a pre-requisite for PACE Level courses. The public speaking requirement should also be completed as early in the CGA program as possible.
What are Communication Skills?
The purpose of communication is to transmit knowledge or ideas as clearly as possible. Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information. In business, information is passed along in many different ways, such as speaking to groups and individuals, listening and following instructions, writing letters, reports, and e-mail, and using charts and graphs. Errors can occur at every stage of the communication process, resulting in confusion and missed opportunities. To reduce these errors, strong skills in verbal, written, and even non-verbal communication are essential.
The Internet’s explosive growth has led to a far greater use of e-mail for business communication, but it has also contributed to a widespread decline in correct grammar and composition. Poor e-mail communication conveys a sloppy image and leads recipients to draw false conclusions about the sender’s professional abilities.
Here are some tips for professional e-mail communication:
• Keep messages concise and no longer than one screen page if possible
• Write an eye-catching subject line that gets your message across in a few words
• Adopt a conversational but business-like tone
• Clearly state your purpose in the first paragraph, including what the reader should know or do
• Do not send junk mail or unnecessary messages
• Do not type in all caps; it looks like you’re yelling
• Do not type in all lower case; use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling
• Avoid slang words, clichés, and abbreviations
• Keep sentences short
• Proofread, spell-check, and revise as necessary before sending
Where to Get Help
CGA-BC recommends the following resources to help improve your communication skills:
• Toastmasters Clubs:
• There are a number of courses which meet the public speaking requirement. A list of these programs can be found online at www.cga-bc.org under Students, Transfer Credits, Public Speaking Transfer Credits.
• ELSA Net’s searchable directory of ESL classes and programs in all B.C. regions: elsanet.org/esldirectory
Getting Ready for the Year of the Rat
By Nikki Jiménez, BA, MA, Administrator, Student Support
While we are in the middle of Session 2 and the 2007-2008 academic year at CGA-BC, the new calendar year is just beginning. On behalf of your academic advising team, happy 2008!
As the new year is upon us, this is the perfect time to introduce the inaugural article of the Advisor’s Corner. This new area of Sessions magazine will provide you with additional information on the student side of the CGA program. We hope the Advisor’s Corner will not only help you get to know the program better, but also help you get to know your CGA advisors better as well.
What better way to kick off the Advisor’s Corner than with an outlook for the upcoming year? The start of the new year always brings about feelings of new beginnings and resolutions, and we hope the year will be a successful one for you. According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, it looks as though 2008 may be especially kind to CGA students, as the year of the rat is upon us!
The year of the rat is the first sign in the Chinese zodiac calendar. Those born in the year of the rat possess a number of positive qualities. Rats are notoriously hardworking, disciplined, organized and passionate individuals. You’ll find that incorporating some of the traits of the rat will ensure success on the program.
Here are some ways you can incorporate “year of the rat” traits, as well as resources we have available for you, to lead to a successful 2008:
WORK HARD – This is an obvious one. No one can do this for you, but if you keep working hard, success is sure to follow.
BE DISCIPLINED – We know that juggling studies, work, family and life in general can be tough, but with some careful planning and scheduling, you can be successful. Remember to schedule weekly study and relaxation time to remain balanced. Check Heads Up on www.cga-bc.org every Monday morning for important program updates, news and events.
STAY ORGANIZED – Make good use of the academic schedule and calendar in the front of your Student Handbook. Packed with deadlines and reminders, this is one way to keep you on top of your time, and will prevent you from missing important deadlines. Also keep up with assignment due dates by checking the Course Information area of our Website.
FIND YOUR WAY AROUND OBSTACLES – We may not be able to submit assignments or write your exams for you, but this is one thing you don’t have to do alone. Always remember your academic advisors are here, ready and wanting to help! You can contact an advisor with any question, large or small, and we’ll help you navigate the obstacles you encounter.
These traits are not true only to those individuals born in the year of a rat. As CGA students, you each possess these hard working and disciplined qualities. Keep in mind that all of this hard work will pay off in the long run, as rats are also known to be wealthy and professionally successful.
Remember, your CGA academic advisors are here to help you achieve success, and we hope to hear from you soon. Have a great 2008, and be sure to look for the second Advisor’s Corner article in the next issue of Sessions.
Nikki Jiménez, BA, MA, is the Administrator, Student Support.
She can be reached at [njimenez#cga-bc,org]Njimenez@cga-bc.org or by phone at (604) 732-1211, ext. 221.
Ask Nikki about: Advising, appeals, course additions, elective changes and enrolment procedures.
Mandatory Standards Seminar for New Graduates
Takes Effect January 1, 2008
CGAs and CGA students take their commitment to protecting the public interest very seriously. Members repeatedly stress the importance of this obligation in every survey conducted by the Association. Ethics instruction has also been integrated into every level of the Association’s Program of Professional Studies. And new members make a very public pledge at our annual convocation to abide by the Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct (CEPROC) and the Independence Standard.
Now, the Association is further elevating its commitment to protecting the public with the introduction of a mandatory ethics requirement for all members (at least four verifiable CPD hours must be committed to ethics instruction as part of each three-year reporting cycle) and a new one-day seminar for all new members who have graduated since 2007.
The day-long seminar is titled, the Essence of Professionalism: Ethics, Rules and Standards for New CGAs, and will be offered online and as an in-person seminar. (See: “Ethics the Road Best Travelled” and “New Requirement for Membership Coming in 2008,” Outlook, June 2007).
The new seminar will focus on what ethical commitment means to professionals as they carry out their day-to-day work. The goal is to move the understanding of ethics from an academic perspective to the issues involved in applying ethics in the real world of work.
It will review the following key topics:
- Understanding the expectation of ethical behaviour from professionals
- Understanding how your own behaviour demonstrates the reality of your ethical commitments
- Recognizing how this commitment is the key to the way that CGA-BC has responded to public concerns over the behaviour of professionals
- Understanding the obligations of CGA-BC in ensuring its members comply with CEPROC and the Independence Standard
- Understanding how CEPROC and the Independence Standard is one of several standards with which members must comply
- The challenges involved in making ethical decisions
- When and whom to call for help when faced with issues
- Developing awareness of the importance of CPD in an ethical context
This seminar reinforces the intention of the words in both the oath taken at graduation as well as the expectations behind CEPROC and the Independence Standard. Interpretations are discussed and key aspects of turning “intent” into reality for the public are reviewed.
Participants will come away with the realization that abiding by CEPROC and the Independence Standard is much more than knowing the words and believing that one’s own actions are ethical. Discussions will focus on how our actions demonstrate our ethical commitment to others, and how we are judged for them. This seminar will prepare new members for the challenges of turning words into actions that build a professional’s reputation.
All new members have one full calendar year after graduation to complete this requirement. This means that new members who graduate during 2008 have until December 31, 2009, to satisfy this requirement. They will also earn seven CPD hours for completing either the in-person seminar or the online version, which will be available starting in June 2008.
Register now for first in-person offering of the new ethics seminar:
June 27, 2008, 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m.
$395 member, $439 non-member
Location: UBC Robson Square, Vancouver
Speaker: Nick Shepherd, FCMC, CGA
Register online at www.cga-bc.org.