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What you need to know to become a partner

Mar 09, 2018
Becoming a partner at an accountancy firm might seem like an ambitious goal. It takes commitment, engagement with the profession and a drive to elevate the firm. Louise Kelly, Tax Partner at Deloitte, advises on how you can start directing your career in the right direction to one day possibly become a partner in your organisation.

While not everyone wants to become a partner in their accountancy firm or organisation, you don’t know where your career might take you, or where your ambitions will lie in 10 years. It’s important to know what qualities current partners look for in future contenders, and how to steer your career in the direction you desire.

Seize opportunities

Don’t be afraid to accept or volunteer for challenges that push you outside your comfort zone. Not only does it provide a great development opportunity, there is a sense of achievement when you are successful in that challenge. It also allows you to differentiate yourself from your peers to accelerate progression. 

Build and maintain your network 

It is important to keep in touch with colleagues and clients as they move roles.  I led Deloitte’s Irish tax desk in New York for two years. This allowed me build great relationships with my US colleagues, but also with those representing other countries as part of the international desk programme.  It is always helpful to be able to pick up the phone and get in touch with someone that I have worked with in the past when I need an urgent response to a client query. Having outside network connections can only work for you.

Spend time developing talent 

I am the Tax Talent Partner, so this is something very close to my heart.  Having a team to support you is critical to your ability to deliver a great service to clients. You cannot achieve success on your own.  Spending time to coach and mentor a team helps accelerate their development as well as build loyalty and morale. Creating a culture of confidence, collaboration and making an impact is vital for us in achieving our goals, both personal and team-wide, and shows great leadership.

Build resilience  

Everyone (including partners!) face difficult challenges at work. It is important to have the resilience to rebound and go into the next challenge with the lessons you learned from your last one. Your ability to move on from an issue will show your dependability. 

Also, to maintain resilience it is vital to recharge the batteries on a regular basis. Your career is a marathon not a sprint.

Be curious

In a dynamic environment such as international tax, there is constant change, either in Irish legislation or in the international tax landscape.  In this particularly exciting time, I am constantly learning so that I can identify relevant developments, opportunities or challenges for myself and my clients. No matter what your area of expertise, it’s important to be curious about the changes in the profession and understand the opportunities that they may present for you; there could be a niche area waiting for you to put your stamp on, helping you elevate your career.

Louise Kelly is a Tax Partner in Deloitte.