ACA: Odette van der Haar

ACA: Odette van der Haar


Sometimes the best advice you receive isn’t necessarily the advice itself, but how you use it. My first job out of varsity was in the sales and marketing department of a large company that manufactured water meters. I was essentially a ‘girl Friday’ who faxed and filed documents.

My manager at the time had one piece of advice for me: read everything that comes through your hands. What he meant was that if I knew what each document referred to, I wouldn’t misfile anything. This would obviously make me a lot more efficient in the long run.

What I soon realised was that everything came through my hands, and the more I read, the more I understood the business. I started to formulate an opinion about certain strategies, operations, decisions and departments.

I was soon able to contribute meaningfully (and at the beginning unexpectedly) to business conversations taking place around the workplace. My bosses noticed my attention to detail and interest in the business, and I was promoted.

Even though I was no longer handling faxes, I made sure I always stayed on top of the business – and have done so in every company I’ve joined since. You can’t know too much. Always read, inform yourself and upskill yourself. These are the tools of a successful career, no matter what industry you’re in.

“You can’t know too much. Always read, inform yourself and upskill yourself.”

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.