Barbara. Early Life Experiences

posted April 14th, 2010 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Barbara to tell me about the experiences in her early life which she believes had the greatest impact on her work life and career.


She said she was really involved in sports as a kid and it gave her the confidence, motivation and determination to pursue her goals.  She says that sports had a big impact because when she was a kid that’s what her life was all about. 


She said: “Obviously, parents are a big factor in your early life and my parents were a big factor in mine. I think my father maybe more than my mother. I grew up with sisters and he very much wanted us to be able to support ourselves. Some women think that they’re just going to get married and that’s it but it was really instilled in me from a young age that I should be able to support myself.  It really encouraged me to get an education and work opportunities came from my education. Both of my parents really encouraged education and not going to university wasn’t an option.”


She said: “My first roommate at university was definitely there to meet a man, that was it for her and it was not even on my radar screen.  I really wanted to get a job — and getting a good education meant I could get a better job. It’s different today because young people are wired a bit differently and they have role models.  I was unique because my mom really emphasized having your own economic independence and my father emphasized getting a good education.  Later I recognized their logic because you can’t really have independence if you don’t have  economic independence. For me, it was always about securing my independence and when I went off to university, I was really working towards a goal. When I started university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I wasn’t sure. In my first year, I started taking some business courses and then in my second year, I met somebody who was working but who was doing a CA and that resonated with me, so I learned more about it.  In the beginning, I really didn’t know anything about becoming a CA. When we were going to school, there wasn’t as much information about career opportunities  as there is today.  They just didn’t do a very good job of informing us of the career options.  Most people had exposure to their own families and beyond that there was not much information.”


“In my case, I really didn’t know much about what a CA did, I just happened to meet somebody and found out about being a CA and what the requirements were and what type of credits you needed. From there, I decided to pursue my CA which for me was really beneficial even though I didn’t plan on staying in public accounting. There are a lot of misconceptions about CAs and the CA designation and what it prepares you for.  A lot of people think you’re just an accountant but accounting provides a really good background for almost any discipline or business that you might want to pursue. People don’t understand this today but the lack of understanding was even greater when I was going to school. Regardless, it was very good training and an excellent background and it really opened up a lot of doors. In the back of my mind, I always felt I had something to fall back on if I needed to make some money. Having the designation certainly doesn’t limit you in any way.  One of my friends became an ophthalmologist and practised for a while and just hated it.  Her education and training was so specialized it made it difficult to change course.  I think the CA designation is as applicable to business as an MBA, although it’s a bit more technical and even if you don’t pursue accounting or finance, for example, if you went into marketing, it’s still useful to have that side of it, to understand the discipline.” 


Barbara said you make decisions very early in life about your education which, to a large extent, translate into your career choices.  She said: “I think those things, wanting to get an education and then landing in something that was quite practical, opened up a lot of doors.  My parents very much encouraged my doing a CA.” 


“Many boys tend to be very involved in sports whereas when I was growing up not many girls were involved in sports. Those who tended to be athletic were involved but otherwise girls just didn’t do anything.  I think sports really teach you a lot in terms of working in a competitive environment and the importance of team work and training and discipline, things which are really very helpful in the business world. I played a lot of sports  and as a result, I tend to relate well to men and I find in business it really helps if you like sports and you can talk about sports and you have similar interests to the men you are working with.”


What Strikes Me?


The potential impact of involvement in sports, in terms of building confidence and providing the motivation and determination to pursue goals.


The impact of our parents on the choices we make and the values we adopt.


When we started working, there wasn’t much information about career opportunities or maybe they just didn’t do a very good job of informing us the career options.  Most people had exposure to their own families and beyond that there was not much information.


Decisions you make very early in life about your education, to a large extent, translate into your career choices. 


Sports teach us a lot about working in a competitive environment, being part of a team and the importance of training and discipline.


What Strikes You?


Please add your comments.

Be Sociable, Share!

Write a comment

You need to login to post comments!