Career Progression, Part 1: The end, a new beginning

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
Jun 11, 2021

Career progression. How can someone harness the power of their education? When should one move on? In this three-part mini-series, I will explore the theme of career progression. First, I’ll discuss why quitting is essential to growth, then how to set yourself up for growth, and conclude with exploring the bigger picture of a CPA and lifestyle design.

Metaphor Soup

Traditionally, career progression has been referred to as “climbing the corporate ladder”, while recent metaphors include a jungle gym and coloured parachutes. Except, what happens when you don’t know if you want a ladder, jungle gym, or parachute?

I often speak on this blog about policy and enabling competencies: Policy, the “hard line” of administrative matters, while enabling competencies acting as the “soft skill” complement to business language. At some point all new CPAs will have fulfilled relatively similar entry-level requirements: education, work experience, evaluative. What differentiates you as a CPA is not what you know, but how well you communicate what you know. The “soft” stuff.

Before I dive into practical solutions on how to maximize your CPA PEP education, I would first like to bring attention to the step before career progression: “quitting”. Moving on from where you are currently at.

Quitting…

  • Can be hard: At some point, it is likely you will want to take your designation and open some of the doors you have created for yourself. I recall early on in my career when my colleagues learned I was leaving they were less than supportive or was that my projection of their reaction?
  • Not always optional: Economic circumstances may lead to layoffs. A lapse in performance or a misaligned skillset may lead to termination. A contract is not renewed. Own it, learn from it, and try not to take it personally. 
  • Sounds awful: Except it doesn’t have to be. I recently received an email resignation from a lovely human I used to work with on an ongoing project I lead outside CPAWSB. It was gracious, thankful, and confident. She and her contributions will be missed, but it is the right thing for the project because it is the right thing for her.

Time to reframe

Consider quitting the mindset of quitting as a “bad” thing. A colleague once told me it is okay to leave a role because you were once happy to take the position and are now making room for someone else to step into their next opportunity. 

Closing time, every new beginning
Comes from some other beginning's end,
-Closing Time, Semisonic

In my next post, I will continue the theme of transitions and encourage you to think of yourself as a business and to use the tools you are cultivating as CPAs to help both others and yourself.  


Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum. 


Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB and an instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.