Written by Leigh Schaller
Every year Aziz Hardien, Provincial Accountant General at the Western Cape Government, spends much of his free time mentoring hundreds of young professionals. He shared his insights during a recent CFOConvo webinar.
“I am a full-time CFO of the Western Cape Government, that’s my day job. My night job is to mentor 160 youngsters via a WhatsApp group,” Aziz Hardien told a recent CFOConvo webinar.
Mentorship is an aspect that shaped Hardien’s development from graduate accountant to his current position as Provincial Accountant General.
“When I started my articles in one of the big four, one of the first things the firm did was allocate a mentor.” Aziz is still in touch with this mentor more than two decades later.
A generation that needs mentoring
“I can say when I sit with a youngster and ask them, ‘Why are you studying what you are studying?’ 90% of the time, they tell me it’s for the money.”
Aziz believes this generation can be materialistic but that by broadening horizons, it’s possible to shape their lives positively. “There’s a lot of confusion among them. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety, and what they desire is leadership, and in my small way, I try to provide that.”
“When they go to varsity, they become book smart, but as they progress in life, they also need to become street smart. The only way that you get that is by practical application, by going to sit with older people who have gone through the mill and you learn from their mistakes.
Mentorship is about showing interest
“I think the simplest thing is just to show an interest in someone’s life,” says Aziz. For him, this occurs in casual conversations, especially regarding topics the mentee is interested in.
“Today’s youngsters are a Google generation, but nothing replaces social interaction. if you’re a CFO, invite your team for coffee. Why not? You have one-on-ones with them, show that you have an interest in their development.
“When somebody believes you are interested in them, they will naturally start gravitating towards you.”
Finding a community to help mentor you
“What you find is with the youngsters, they are more eager to learn,” says Aziz. He recommends joining a professional society.
“For any youngster, I would recommend you stay up to date with your profession and stay up to date with your professional society. It always benefits you to be part of a professional society because if there is a problem in your organisation that you cannot deal with, being part of a professional society opens up a world of networks, and you can access it at any time because when you also belong to the same society, it’s like a camaraderie that you are building.”