Ollie... and Dennis

Published: 25 November 2012

Those of us with children in their last year of school might be ‘enjoying’ their battles with writing their personal statements for university applications, or indeed as part of their CV’s.

Ollie is one of, I guess, thousands of children who at aged 17 have no idea what they would like to do: whether that be which university, going to university or not, or if not, what career to embark on.

It is pretty hard to write a personal statement if you don’t know what you want to do, and that was certainly the case for Ollie yesterday. He knew that it should includes his skills and qualities but didn’t know how to say what they were – his first thought was ‘good at math’ [he said maths, but I like to drop the ‘s’ much to his annoyance].

Good at math(s) though is apparent from elsewhere in the application / cv. So, I tried to talk to him about his other skills, starting with what makes him a great brother to Saffron aged 7. That they are 10yrs apart and get on so well is great, but a lot of credit must go to Ollie as the eldest of the two. We talked about how he makes himself available to play with her. He listens to her when she wants to tell him something and he cares when she is upset and helps making her feel better.

We then talked about what makes him a great boyfriend to his girlfriend of 18 months, and son to his mum and me.

After a relatively short period of time, he soon had a list of qualities and skills that are far more important than the ones that are technically required to do a job, or to be deemed clever enough to attend a university and get a place on a course.

This all struck a chord with me, as we are recruiting at the moment, and good candidates are hard to find. [A cv we received yesterday referred to the candidate’s experience of “fast paste business” (sic)… Fish paste, meat paste, wallpaper paste?... I dread to think. Moreover, his assertion that “I am the greatest asset for your company… and I am what you need to succeed”, might have ruffled a few feathers with the rest of our team].

I concede that “I am the greatest” never did Mohammed Ali any harm… but his accountancy legacy is not as well remembered as his boxing one.

Where am I coming from with all of this?... I ask myself – maybe you do too!

I think I want to get across that at CBSL Accountants we care about who you are, not what you are, and that manifests itself in the little (and often not so little things). Little, being Louise picking up a leaf that had blown into reception as we left for a meeting and putting it outside, so it left reception tidier.

Bigger, being Rosie and Jess making Aran feeling welcome on her first day back at work after maternity leave… Aran’s beautiful little girl, in her new shoes, across the road at nursery for the first time.

Just little things… I recall my former office managing partner, Dennis, picking up a member of staff who had prepared some accounts to 31 September, and quite rightly so. As he said, if he couldn’t trust that she knew the number of days in the month, how could he trust any other numbers in the accounts.

To someone thinking of changing job, I want you to know that we are a firm of people that care and will not pigeonhole you into a job title, be that semi-senior / senior / manager and in a 9-5:30 desk job. We will respect that you may or may not have children, a partner and interests or commitments outside of work.

To a client or prospective client, I guess just to tell you that we care about the little things (as well as the big things) so that you don’t need to. In the same way that Ollie is for his sister, we will and are always available for you, and when things go wrong as they do from time to time, we will help you deal with them.

Oh, and the team are pretty damn good at math(s): Me? Less so, but lets keep that between us!