Friday 29 August 2014

Interview: What does the job of an accountant involve?

The financial services industry in Malta is one of the most stable and fast growing local industries which job seekers could tap into.

To give you a clearer picture of the available opportunities out there, for the next weeks we will be publishing a series of interviews with professionals who live and breathe these roles. 

Our first guest is Mr. Clint Abela, an accountant by profession who is on his way to becoming a CPA (Chartered Public Accountant). Mr. Abela was kind enough to answer some of our questions that will help you understand what it’s really like to work in an accounting firm. 

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? 

I am an Accounts Supervisor at a specialised firm providing accounting & auditing services to companies across a range of industries. I have been in this role for the last 4 years.

Where/What did you study? Are you considering getting more qualifications?  What would these be and are they essential?

The role of qualifications in this career is essential as they prove you have a strong sense of focus, which is crucial for an Accountant position, where attention to detail is key. Personally I was exposed to the subject matter early on in secondary school. The subject appealed to me. To specialise,  I continued on to MCAST to complete the 3 year Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) course, which gave me a great headstart into the industry. After a while at the company, I decided to start following the ACCA examination pathway to become even more qualified. This is great because I can do it on a part-time basis and still continue working. My final exam is this December, after which I would consider continuing to focus on more specialised areas of accounting, such as accounting investigations.

How Did You Get Your Current Role? Where did you see the vacancy? 

I am currently a Supervisor, a promotion I received based on my commitment for advancing in my skills and knowledge, and through the passing of industry exams. I originally started at the firm through word of mouth - there wasn't a specific vacancy available but I met them and having my CV on file allowed the company to call me up when they needed to expand. So it helps to be aware of the industry and to try and make connections with people who can introduce you to these companies. 

[Editor's Note: If you're looking for an Accounting position in Malta, our team can put you in touch with accounting companies. Contact us to see how we can help you.]

What are your advancement options? What do you want to achieve? 

The natural next step is to become a fully qualified accountant and possibly try and obtain some auditing experience as well.  At least a full year of auditing experience is required before you can start signing off company audits, which is a position of higher responsibility I aspire to. There is also always the option of working abroad and gaining experience with a foreign company.  

What Does Your Current Role Involve? What does your day look like?

It’s quite varied but includes making sure that the accounts department runs smoothly, carrying out higher level accounts routines, including the financial control of the firm’s finances and cash flows. I supervise and manage a team of 5 people helping the audit team on any accounting problems encountered in their audit and preparing payroll for the various clients of our company. 

What does the work environment look like? Do you work in a team or on your own? Do you regularly meet clients? 

We work very closely as a team - we think that each task can be done by more than one person so that work never stops and can be done in time. i do meet with clients - most of the time because work would need to be done from their premises. Sometimes we have queries on the work that needs to be done and therefore i arrange a meeting with them to discuss any difficulties. However matters regarding the engagement of a new client and how work will be done would be discussed by the partners.

What appeals to you about Your job? What's your favourite aspect?

The variety of industries we work with. Since I am not an internal accountant but work in a firm that provides this service, we come into contact with a lot of different scenarios: one day you could be working on a hotel business and the other with a shipping and logistics company. Before I started in my current job, I had little knowledge of these industries and now like that it is a dynamic working environment that changes all the time and – if you are able to prove yourself – offers great prospects for the future

What are the career opportunities like for accountants on the Maltese Islands? 

Luckily Malta is a great place for accountants since there are loads of job opportunities and there are lots of financial services companies in Malta. With so many betting and gaming companies coming to Malta the need for accountants is increasing. The only downside to keep in mind is that the same job abroad technically pays more, but Malta makes up for it because of its reasonable level of living expenses. 

What Qualities Do You Need to Succeed? What skills, technical and non-technical, are essential to succeed? 

Due to the quality of the work needed and the information one sees the person would be need to be highly ethical and be able to keep such information confidential. I also think you need to be open-minded and be capable of seeing the whole picture. By this, I mean you need to look at information and know exactly where it fits in the client’s processes. Other traits that help include professionalism (the way you behave); confidentiality; professional competence (having the knowledge to do the job); integrity and objectivity.

Are you interested in accountant jobs? Search the latest available opportunities on our website.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

How To Become a Software Development Team Leader

Great, you've become a software engineer, honed your technical and non-technical skills, understood the ICT industry in Malta and the companies that are hiring software developers in Malta, but do you know how to progress further? For many, taking the next step means leading a team of other software developers, but that requires a certain mindset. So we wondered: what are the common traits that people attribute to software development team leaders?

  • Focus. A great team manager must be hyper-aware of the goals that the entire team must achieve, while working to make sure every member's individual aims are aligned to that overall group effort. A deep understanding of the client or project will go a long way to make sure the solution built is in line with the most important requirements, and that scope creep is avoided! 
  • Initiative. Anyone involved in leadership must naturally take charge. If you want to manage a team, you need to be able to take quick decisions without consulting anyone else, or explore possible avenues which have not been considered yet. A developer who takes initiative and makes suggestions has a high chance of being a team leader further down the line. 
  • Supportive. A competent manager is all about enabling the team. As a team lead, you understand that you cannot solve problems in a vacuum, so you need to develop your people by guiding and coaching them to grow and improve, and constantly create new synergies with other teams. Always take time off to speak to individual team members and understand what they're struggling with, and notice what they really perform well at so you can delegate future tasks of that type to them. Another style of supportive team management that works is regular "huddle" meetings: these are short (15 minutes or less), regular (daily or almost), and let team members update each other on progress. 
  • Leadership. Many people forget that leadership is not just about assertiveness. Your true value will lie in how well you work with others. Work on your communication skills: you need to excel at breaking down complex concepts into actionable instructions so that they are understandable by both technical and business users. This is a skill that gets you to become a go-to person in those important projects. It would also be helpful to work on your confidence, as leaders cannot afford to lose control of their own teams. One technique that almost always works when your team seems to be losing confidence is to challenge them!
  • Creativity. Do not limit yourself to the approaches, technologies and methodologies that are familiar to you and your team. If you show the ability to think creatively from your early days, your rise to leadership will be faster and you will be more effective in the role. Constantly research new technologies, and focus on the needs you're helping to solve, rather than the nitty-gritty of project spec sheets. This will allow you to go beyond arbitrary limits and truly challenge the limitations of your team. 
  • Milestone-driven. In an ideal world, we would be able to create projects on our time. However within a highly competitive industry, team leaders are expected to deliver and respect agreed time frames and budgetary constraints. With increased responsibility, you will be directly accountable to clients and managers.. One way to accomplish this is to develop a deliverables mentality and culture. For example, you can start ending your emails with what you expect to accomplish and what others need to accomplish so that expectations are met. You might also look into implementing project management methodologies that have been popularized by hugely successful teams at companies like Google - for instance, using OKRs to make sure all the team is in sync. 
  •  Vision. Finally, you should be the one who looks beyond the next few months and who comes up with ideas that are challenging and exciting. While being realistic is paramount, you could be the next leader to push the boundaries and accomplish more than what is expected.  Having a vision is not enough, however. You also require clarity. Deeply understand your team's medium to long term goals and communicate them to everyone around you. Turn your work from a job into a mission, and you will motivate others and inspire them to act by following your lead. 

Combining all these traits together with your experience and know how will make you an invaluable asset to any project. Remember to never stop learning, even if you make it: all great leaders have mentors of their own.


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