Power. What is it, and how can we use it effectively? In this three-part mini-series, I will explore the dynamics of power in the context of the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP). This first post explores developing power as a candidate, then examines the ownership of power, and concludes with a discussion of how the power a candidate builds can develop their professional presence.
Emotionally speaking, the weight of a Core 1 Orientation Workshop makes it challenging to teach. Learners are transitioning from the mindset of a student into the realities of being a CPA candidate, without the linear path of “do this, get this”, leaving a steep, unavoidable learning curve.
I see candidates feeling the weight of this transition when I receive messages laced with helplessness. Often it is because the candidate has yet to buy into the shift from undergraduate- to graduate-level education. In undergraduate courses, you focus on what you know; CPA PEP emphasizes and evaluates the application of that knowledge. CPAs add value when there is no objective “right” answer because we master the dynamics of subjectivity by identifying, analyzing, concluding and advising, much like we practice when writing cases.
I recently took a trip down memory lane to revisit how I—and people around me—perceived the dynamic between power and control. Was power personified via nice clothes, fancy titles, or was it fast cars? Some saw it as country-specific, the source of financial wealth, the education one receives. I thought about how my definition of ‘power’ has evolved as my career has matured. My current thinking about power includes elements of control, especially our impactful inputs for both long-term planning and maximizing our daily practices to achieve long-term goals. For me, power comes from setting myself up for success and doing my best, recognizing that my best looks different every day.
During CPA PEP, the stakes are high, and the stress is real. The thing is, we often have more power and control over our surroundings than we recognize. In my next post, I’ll build on this exploration of power and how we have power even when it isn’t obvious that we do.
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.