Member focused
Mentorship Programme

Mentorship Programme
SAICA Mentorship Programme

A profession is only as good as the quality of the individual professionals that make it up and, in particular, a shared capacity to work and learn together. And a profession must serve society.

The SAICA Mentoring Programme

We are thrilled to inform you that the SAICA Mentoring Programme is returning again this year. The programme is open to all SAICA members and associates.

We live in a world in crisis. Everywhere people are atomised and divided. We seem to have lost the ability to work collectively and collaboratively as citizens in many spheres of life. Professions have a very important role to play in leading and modelling good practice, open debate and courageous choices.

Over the years SAICA has worked tirelessly to enhance professional development in the accounting profession in South Africa. Academic standards and rigorous technical competencies are fundamental to this. And SAICA recognises that the situation in South Africa and the World means that we need to add different dimensions to professional development. CA2025 identifies new aspects and it asks members to also take a new approach to their development as accounting professionals.

The new dimensions include more focus on aspects such as leadership and digital acumen. And SAICA is also introducing a new approach to continuing professional development – one that meets the challenges of a complex and divided world. The new approach is for members to take ownership of their professional journey rather than focussing solely on meeting set external criteria. Members are asked to proactively assess their own professional development journey and design, with the support of SAICA, bespoke development areas suited to their individual career situation and current capacity. This new approach is an invitation from SAICA to its members to become involved in re-establishing the vitality, reputation and impact of the profession in society; to reaffirm the vital role played by professional accountants in South Africa.

The contexts we work in as professionals are complex and we each take a different route in our career journey after qualifying. Each new work situation, each new client or organisation we work in, presents different challenges – each of which provides a learning opportunity and a potential step in career development. An effective leader makes use of these lessons to build their personal presence and authority. As new more complex and challenging situations are encountered the robust professional is therefore better prepared to challenge any errors, dysfunction or unethical response that they observe.

How can we support members to be more proactive, considered and methodical in this type of professional journey? Ironically, one approach is to simply return to the traditional approach to professional development used by all professional bodies since their inception: mentoring and guidance of junior professionals by more seasoned professionals. Key to the success of the change SAICA is introducing is the nature of mentoring and the culture of mentoring in the profession as a whole.

Since 2017, SAICA has been developing a member-led structured mentoring programme. The programme has evolved over four rounds with new elements being added each time that align more fully with the CA2025 approach.

The elements of the approach are as follows:

  • Members are invited to apply to be mentors and mentees
  • The team selects and matches mentors to mentees based on responses to the application questions
  • Then we provide considerable contact time for all participants

There is some input and content, but the primary intent is to have members engage with each other and learn from each other in live applied practice with reflection and guidance.

Our profession can be enriched by programmes like this – where members have the time and space to convene, learn together and support each other to grow – to build a collaborative professional community once more. Then we can take our place as leaders in our society, as professionals modelling service and integrity in society and supporting a rebirth of active collective citizenship in our society and the world.

Design and approach of the programme

The contact time includes four main training sessions of about three hours each, three skills sessions for mentors which are two hours long and then we have pod learning groups run by former participants called ambassadors. Mentees also receive training as well as their own pod groups. This gives us a chance to begin to develop the capacity in members to take ownership of their own professional development, choose areas for development and ensure that they are clear when contracting with their mentor.

Participation in the programme does require a considerable time commitment but we believe this is key to providing the experience of being in a traditional professional body mentoring culture. Members are invited to participate, guide fellow participants, and contribute to the development of the programme - to influence the approach and norms of the new mentoring culture being established.

What is the role of members in the programme? The programme has been through several iterations since 2017, with programmes in 2019, 2020 and 2021. At the end of each programme we invite participants to become involved in running the programme in the role of programme ambassador, under the guidance of the supervisory facilitators from the Sandton Coaching Centre. These facilitators provide a specialist form of professional development suited to the philosophy of CA2025.

This specialism is called coaching supervision and is based on approaches used in the psychotherapy profession. This approach is not like having a supervisor in the common sense of the word; it is much more a form of mentoring and guidance for practitioners in any professional context, dealing with real world complex challenges involving communication and challenging work relationships.

Ambassadors have further opportunities to develop their skills and professional capacity by being in supervision and learning how to apply this expertise in the development of mentoring programmes and the enhancement of the professional mentoring culture of their own organisations. The specialist supervisors facilitate the role the ambassador members play in designing the programme.

The key element of the programme is the role members and programme graduates play in running the programme and building a sense of community and collaboration. As such the programme also brings back to life the collective professional spirit, the sense of a community of citizens learning together.

Leadership skills are vital to the healthy personal and professional development of chartered accountants who will one day lead others and model ethical professional practice when working in challenging business and political environments. It is important for the profession to find a way of developing and maintaining high levels of professional and ethical capacity in their membership. This is where the mentorship programme comes in.

Developing the level of sophistication and capacity required to be a professional leader is a life-long journey of professional development. Pressurised, complex and fast-moving work environments can be an effective crucible for learning, but they can be seductive spaces for learning bad habits or becoming blinkered to bad practice. Balancing career progression and doing the right thing is a fine art. SAICA has therefore proudly piloted an innovative mentoring programme for qualified CAs(SA) and AGAs(SA) in order to support and enhance their growth and development.

Programme development objectives

The programme has the potential to grow to serve a significant proportion of the SAICA membership. It offers learning for members at all levels, from newly qualified CAs as mentees, to more experienced members who have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills in the role of mentor or programme ambassador. The programme continues to develop and grow each year, with new elements being designed by the facilitators in collaboration with SAICA and programme alumni who have volunteered at the end of each round to be ambassadors. The aim of the mentorship programme is to allow participants to take ownership of their professional and personal development. All participants – mentors and mentees and ambassadors – all have multifaceted opportunities to work on insight, awareness and personal growth, navigating their career path and developing their leadership capacity and presence.

SAICA’s mentorship programme is aligned to the post-qualification framework, Pathways to Relevance, and exposes members to the enabling competencies in the container of a structured programme with a variety of learning opportunities that are shared with fellow participants. The variety of participants, roles and forms of interaction ensures that there is benefit to members of all levels, from newly qualified CAs(SA) and AGAs(SA) as mentees, to more experienced members who take on the role of mentor or program ambassador.