Newbie

Welcome on-board and once again- congratulations on your new role. Be it a promotion at work, a switch of careers or organizations or you are kick-starting your career. While this can be a very exciting experience, it comes with a lot of anxiety and uncertainties and here’s why…

  1. You will have moments of immense self-doubt.

Between figuring out your new role and getting to master it, there will be moments of unadulterated self-doubt.  On one hand, you want to be the ‘wow’ newbie and on the other hand you are starting to realize that eeerm, green is what you feel: majorly because there is a whole lot of learning, unlearning and relearning ahead of you. You find yourself constantly trading between trying to demonstrate that you are up to the task and figuring out what you are meant to do, how best to do it and how to create your space within the system.

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Nillionaire

There was a time when dreams were hallucinations. Those days when you would wake up wondering if people with salaries used the same purses and wallets that you used, or if their purses were as big as back packs. You were a student surviving on lean budgets then. You questioned if they wore the same kind of linen as students, because you knew for a fact that the money was so much. So much that it could tear your cheap campus linen. There were days you would dream that your first salary would be used to travel the world, and the second one would buy you a car, then you would become a millionaire and billionaire shortly after…  Subsequently, you would buy a big piece of land in the prime South Coast, and another one in the leafy suburbs around the capital city. You would embark on the construction of the century. An  impossibly imperial castle or a chalet bungalow! On the beach piece of land, you would put up a private beach, a royal one. You imagined that the child of the child of Queen Elizabeth would propose to his girlfriend on this land. You would have this proposal scene well figured out in mind, and the royal architects that you would hire to design it would have to get the grand picture right. You cannot have room for disappointing a royal prince, helloo?  All the things money would buy you would be of the century because you used to think that the people of this century did not how to spend their salaries. Who works for a year without building a home? Or buying small toys like cars? Image result for millionaire dream

In your life as a hallucinator, you did not have much respect for people who defiantly refused to upgrade their lifestyles despite being fatly salaried. You often caught yourself wondering what their problem was, and if it was clinically treatable. You sometimes asked silently if they had some forces that stole their money, if their bank accounts had some holes which leaked their money out. Was it possible that they made an agreement at birth that they would pay for all the air they breathed between the second they were born and the second they got their jobs? Must be billions of billions by now!. Or maybe they were repaying ancestral loans for their clans.  As a dreamer, you blacklisted one friend because they confided to you that they had taken leave on the last week of the month because they could not afford fare. Keeping such a friend would mean that you were exposing yourself to the risk of becoming a nillionare. You were born with the blood of a millionare, and as such, you needed people of similar blood and same dose of halucinations around you.

The good Lord was faithful. He granted you that job. In a multinational…in a globally recognized company ! It was a mega shift, from managing pocket change, to managing a salary. A salary that was so much that it had to be confined in the walls of a  24hour secured bank. Imagine that!!!   It was a massive shift! You were becoming a tax payer, you were now eligible to advise the ministry of finance. After all, you had a Finance/ Accounting background, and your taxes would be a material part of the national budget…Back to the jumbo shift.  You were about to become a rent payer or a home owner, an electricity bill payer, a water bill payer, a designer wear buyer, a car owner, and a business class traveller around the world. The paradigm shift was a few days away. As you sat in the job orientation, you deaf listened through the financial management session. You knew what you were waiting for, the etiquette session. This session would tell you how to carry yourself around, as the young millionaire you were just about to become. Gusto and drumrolls! And those people truly knew how to massage your delicate ego and rejuvenate your dreams.  Ray mentioned the kind of suits that the society expected people of your calibre to wear, the kind of shoes and jewerly, the hairdo and the kind of people who were allowed to shampoo your delicate business head… He talked about the kind of perfumes young people of your stature were allowed to use- eau de perfume, not anything less. Eau de toilette for who?? You kept nodding heavily and smiling villagely as you took notes in the global notebook. On that bright day,you forced yourself to sleep in traffic: because that session had touched you somewhere where only a dream could take you back.

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NOW. No car, no house, no land. Not much has changed. You have defiantly refused to upgrade, just like those people you thought needed clinical attention!

There comes a point when a person starts blaming their brains for having the ability to conceive such deceptive dreams. For faithfully making them believe that such a life is of this world, and attainable through months of work. That it is even attainable by a person purely depending on a single salary and no side hustle.

 

139561934314.jpgYou sit in traffic, in a matatu- as a nillionare. You moved out recently, after very many months of working. If your folks had not looked at you badly, if they had not insisted that you needed to take responsibility of your life, if they had not quarrelled you for getting home at 3 in the morning and accused you of treating their home as a bed and breakfast thingy, if you had not realized that were not saving despite staying at home…you would never have moved out. You did not move to a leafy suburb, ( Did you even think you would afford it?!). You moved to a neighbourhood just good enough to accommodate a starter who knows how to operate a budget. A starter who knows the complex math of fixed costs and can clearly differentiate between a luxury and necessity. One who knows how to classify a TV and a home theatre  as a luxury. Those ones will be bought later. Besides, you have a functional phone with earphones to keep you updated on what is happening around the world; and you have a laptop to keep you watching the latest movies released everywhere in the world;  Nollywood and Hollywood alike.  A starter, who now calls themselves a ‘self starter’ …( ‘I started from the bottom kind of vybe) . Needless to say, you do not have a car, at least not yet.

You look through the window, through the rain.Those dreams start haunting you. Your life is not where you used to see it. You feel like you are behind schedule. You have not afforded any holiday so far, and no matter how hard you close your eyes, you cannot see yourself affording one anytime soon. It is the last week of the month. You hate this week.  It is the week of revising your borrowing skills and taking honey to sweeten your voice lest someone decides to pay you for massaging their ears with your sweet voice. This week finds you so broke that  you could almost call your ex demanding for payment for all your time that they wasted.  It is the week where you spend a considerable amount of time refreshing your contacts and breaking the silence with long lost potential financiers. You invest time dropping a few texts here and there to cushion the reception of the borrowing text. You write down and rehearse ways of asking for money  without making your financier think that you are THAT broke. Mostly, you find yourself picking all manner of excuses/ small lies. Sometimes, ati you lost your ATM card, others you lie that you lend a huge amount to a friend and they have not paid you back, or all these other lies you people borrow money with, sometimes you want capital to grab some business opportunity. Any wise person will read through the lies and show some empathy. But you have to butter the right side of the bread so well that you cannot be denied that loan.

 

Capture.PNGIronically, this is the same week your next of kin will call you with all their financial needs. They ask for small money like 15k and over. Did the definition of small money change by the way?! How is 15k small money to a starter who knows mathematics? You cannot disappoint them anyway, you would rather take a loan…you know you are their child, they educated you and you are undeniably doing very well financially. They expect you to have a quarry of money. In fact, your parents believe that you, yes you penniless one, can open a bank for the entire village to provide financial aid to those people who cannot manage their finances at a small interest- if you wanted to. You cannot admit your financial strain lest they suffer a cardiac arrest. Understandably, you are mostly in a bad mood before you are paid, especially when you see your kin calling-calling you. And you cannot even tell them what a luxury is when they ask for money to buy handbags or shoes. Before end month, why oh why?! You are tempted to call that friend you blacklisted in your life as a hallucinator, you want to find out if they finally got their finances right and stopped booking leave strategically.

 

The sun is starting to rise. As you alight the matatu, you start having a constructive monologue, far from halucinations.From today henceforth, you will redeem yourself from this shackle of pay cheque slavery. “Get thee behind me satan” will be your favourite verse in the bible. You will use it when your hands feel like they should pick designer things which are meant for people who throw notes of small value in dustbins. You will use it when these friends who help you celebrate that salary which is as tiny as the small finger of a newborn child call you. You will confidently ask them if they will foot their bill, and meet you halfway in meeting yours. You will also adjust your tongue to appreciate low budget foods, until such a time when you will not know the difference between the salary sunup and salary sundown (Read as payday and end month before payday). You will be comfortable saying that you are comfortable eating life in a small spoon. You will stop living to the societal expectation and create your own bar, based on your financial height. Holidays will be enjoyed during the company holidays so that you can savour every moment. Scarcity creates value, so the fewer, the more valuable! You will create a mental switch. You will switch your mind off when people ask you foolish questions. Like “Kwani where do you take your money?”/ “Did you get a paycut?/ “Why don’t you have a car yet?”Then you will start humming the ‘started from the bottom’ anthem.

 

Somewhere between the financial plan, friends happen, and unplanned-for events and other small emergencies. You resolve month after month to have your finances in check, unsuccessfully.:-( Sometimes, the pressure to catch up with peers mounts and you end up spending unnecessarily, trying too hard to measure up to the profile that the society has set for you. As time goes by, end month draws further and further. Reason? You pay off debts and settle bills as soon as that salary kicks in. By the end of the first week, you are broke. Like properly broke/broke!! Loans shift from soft loans to long-term ones. Eventually, you realize that you are tangled up in loans and lifestyles beyond your reach.  But you have an image to protect, you have a way you want people to view you. Because of this want, you end up broke while trying to look rich.  Problem with our generation is that we want instant success… we want to live large without a back up plan. We want to enjoy our youth to the fullest and get the finest of experiences now’now. I stand to be corrected, but the way to wealth is simple. Spend less than you earn, and invest the difference wisely. In the grand scheme of life, we will all get there. Of course, with the right financial decisions  now. So SAVE and INVEST! The golden rule is that you spend what remains after you have saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Auditor

imagesW5CWFK1KNo one ever seems to understand auditors. Why they have monologues  or talk to their laptops! Why they sometimes do both day and night shift combined, ( read as working overnight), why they are always deep in thoughts or try to make sense out numbers in the middle of totally unrelated conversations. True auditors always  have their laptops in some black backpacks that they never leave behind, or constantly think about  numbers in the laptops; especially during the busy season #factfile. Wonder no more. This is what it means to be an auditor.

 

  1. Everything is urgent. You barely ever have the time to think about what can wait, and what is needed now’now! Because the thing with audit is that the bosses never give requests. They give some form of commands, with hidden threats embedded in the tone of the email. At one point, you receive multiple emails all at the same time demanding for deliverables. At another point, you will get an email that gives you a panic attack. (Why do they have to be so harsh though?).  Anyway, you will decide to take a water break, but end up standing next to the dispenser for ten minutes thinking about why you did what you did, and asking yourself if your career is about to come crashing down. (There is always something about that one number that you accidentally or intentionally forgot about)…Then, there is the part where no one  ever understands why you insist that you have beat deadlines. You get used to pressure and late nights at very early stages of your career. And here’s the thing. Associates bear the pressure from seniors, who bear pressure from managers, who bear the pressure from partners.  Every level in audit has it’s own weight and pressure, and every person has someone above them who gives them adrenaline rush. With time, you get used to it, the system has a way of making your nerves keep calm. To the outside world though, all you do walk in heels and Italian suits…and spend the day nodding to numbers. Let’s keep the perception that way.
  2. You will go home one day and people will ask you if you lost your job. They will think you lost your job because of the stress you will have eaten that day. Because the thought that things are still not making sense will be cat walking on your face proudly. Like it wants the world to know that you took stress for breakfast, nonsense for lunch and crap for supper.   Those are the days you will have spent a whole day agreeing balances, which will not agree after all. Have you read ‘5 Reasons you’re “So Busy” Every Day, Yet Not Really Getting Anything Done By Larry Alton?’ At a glance, Larry says there is a big difference between being busy and being productive. So you spend a whole day busy being busy and no results to show.  Or one of those days when ghosts from the time of Noah will resurrect, backed up by those emails I talked about. This time, the emails will be served with some hot desert with reminders of such terms as inefficiency and poor quality bu’sh*t. (As though you do not know that there is a problem with that mind of yours already). Some third parties who have taken it upon themselves to discipline people who seem to be  sabotaging the  ‘quality of work’ might be copied in that email too. Why now? (Just thinking out loud here). While at it, lets pause and sing a song of glory to all those *people*/*bosses* who will ask you how far you are with work after every two minutes. Oh how we adore you! Back to the point, you will find yourself  subconsciously sneering and giving frequent sighs…Hold up people, please give me your full attention here! If you see an auditor in this state, just let that auditor be! Stop this thing of feeding them with more bu’sh*t. Questions of “kwani what do you do, ama ni nini hauelewi for a whole day?  My brother/Sister, are you still struggling with understanding the basics? Those questions were served at lunch time. They sermoned themselves for a mental meeting trying to understand whether or not  they are struggling, and why basic things are suddenly too  complex. They also took time to question their intelligence, their expertise and their life goals.
  3. You must look and feel stupid at one point or another. Of course you will! We all have those moments. You spend your life understanding the numerical stories of different organizations. Sometimes you will pick up pretty fast. Others, you will not. You will try make sense out of numbers unsuccessfully. Sometimes clients will even tell you that it appears like you do not understand your job. Shrugs shoulders. Now what can you do? Pull out a powerpoint presentation on who you are and what you are capable of doing? Print out your past experience and academic qualifications? No? Sometimes you will also embarrass yourself in front of your team. It is worse if you are the rookie in the team. Some slippery mouth in the team will look at you condescendingly and comment that during their time, they were not as slow as you are. ( Rolls eyes). During their time, they were Wayyyy better. (They will say). This is the point you will call a peer for help, but not before giving them a presentation of your well articulated hate speech on the people who are making your life impossible. Your bosom peer will give you some woiyes and woishes here and there, because they understand what you are going through; the experience is the same across the board. They too have had worse days trust me. You will ask yourselves if you are learning, and if you are growing.  Worry not, eventually things will make sense. There are days you will find it necessary to insert a ‘cry break’ within your tight schedule. (The ones who pretend to be strong will call it a bathroom break and imagine that you cannot tell an eye that is about to cry). I do not know about the male auditors but what I am sure is that they also have their own rite that they perform to relieve stress…  You get a learning curve that is stiffer than any other  that you will ever have; with so much to learn within such a short time. Please note that it’s important that you take your humble pie before asking questions. In other words, be ready to bear those condescending looks…or anticipate the ‘ you suck’ kind of look for asking some questions which might seem to be obvious to everyone else apart from you. To  all the rookies out there struggling to understand stuff so that they can be good at their stuff, hang in there.The expert in anything was once a beginner, no one starts as excellent. So stop pretending that you know things you do not know and ASK. The priceless advice I got when starting my career, was that the junior’s main job is to make the senior look good. That means that you have to deliver quality work and make it appear that they have done a good job coaching you. The surest way of doing this, is by making sure that you consult with them on how to go about stuff, especially when in doubt. On the same note, you have to accept the small fact that you will do a lot of work for them, and they might scold you if you do their work wrongly. Then they will take all the credit for your sleepless nights on the same
  4. You will forever be job hunting in your head. Auditors will forever rant about their jobs and how they need work life balance. But five years later, you find them still Mack timing in audit and giving themselves ted talks during the evening traffic jam. (It will look like they are mad because they are really talking to themselves, but no, just call it a TED TALK ). You might go through this phase. Not because you do not love your job or something. Okay, I think that is what it is. There are days you wake up fully decided to give that resignation letter, but we both know you will not. You will remind yourself that every relationship has good times and bad times…just like your relationship with your delicate career. If you are not passionate about audit, you might crash along the way. You might have heard the rumour that there are auditors who walk out of audit rooms, and just like that they have quit! (True rumour). Or that one auditor who resigned despite not having gotten another job! Your idea of bashing shifts from the wild campus parties, to the new kind of bashing. *inside joke alert*. And really, you will have no social life. The uncountable times you promise your crew that you are shutting down, but you end up  showing up five hours later…or not showing up at all.  You think less about your life, and about your relationship. You become intolerable to anyone who does not understand the nature of your career.  I wonder how non auditors dating auditors survive the emotional absence. The times you miss conversations and genuinely forget about them, the times you are physically present but mentally thinking about variances, the times you have nightmares about variances while your partner is dreaming about you and hoping that this dream is mutual. (Lol- auditor’s best dream are the ones which reveal how a variance can be solved)… and how you set dates and forget to cancel. Sometimes, you make it for that date…but end up restoring packages and responding to querries somewhere in the middle (I already told you that no one understands why we constantly treat work as the priority)… How you find issues about time and leaving hanging conversations as non issues. But most key, how you can do late nights continuously and still have someone understand that you are not being inefficient.  ( Ama sisi ndio hatujui kujipanga??) Anywho, like I said, these people called auditors are a special class of people.
  5. Things will go wrong. There are assignments you will shine on for all the good reasons. But there are others you will be starring for all the wrong reasons. And somehow, there is always that one day when everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong. From 1. waking up late yet you are the master, ( it’s very okay to be asked if you are on flexi, or a partner, or something close. Very sarcastic comments there)…to  2. doing the wrong thing all day and …and most importantly, deleting files and packages in the spirit of confusion.  Just when you think it cannot get any worse, you make another round of fresh mistakes. I have heard confessions of associates who make so many mistakes in an assignment that they start fearing their team members. You know the feeling of being the deadweight of the team. Yes that one! Do not kill yourself about it.  You know you cannot have a good day every day after all. And if the senior will not want to work with you again, that is their problem, not yours. Si you have always been taught that you cannot please everyone? But again, never forget that you are in a career where a lot depends on the perception people above you have about you

When all is said and done, you realize that starting your career in audit gives you the kind of experience you need to handle just anything in this world. A toast to all the auditors out there,bless yours souls! And all the corporate newbies. I do not know how you will do it, but find a way of having your own kind of work balance. And finally, no one will ever understand you if they have never been in audit. So spare yourself the numerous explanations to people and just do your thing in peace.