Exuding the highest level of integrity and honesty is a must for finance and accounting professionals looking to lead while leaving a legacy. They must adapt to the workforce, never burn bridges, and grow their positive impact by giving back and seeking to make a difference to their organization and community. These are just a few of the tips that Errol L. Pierre and Jim Jermanok sprinkle throughout their book The Way Up: Climbing the Corporate Mountain as a Professional of Color.

The book peeks behind the curtain of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) policies to explore the experiences of Black people in corporate America—many of whom work daily while dealing with microaggressions and feeling like outsiders in their corporate culture. The authors describe subtle acknowledgements, such as head nods and fist bumps that transpire among Black people in the hallways of offices, that signify solidarity and the age-old line from rapper Tupac Shakur, “Keep your head up."

Pierre and Jermanok start by sharing details of their lives’ journeys, roller-coaster rides of triumphs and pitfalls. They leave a trail of career-building breadcrumbs that readers can follow to place themselves above their competition. The authors stress the importance of prioritizing your—and your organization’s—purpose, thinking about your career from beginning to end, linking your passion to your profession, and, most importantly, thinking about the bigger picture beyond yourself. They reinforce that if your passion is at the forefront, your salary will almost always rise over time.

Pierre and Jermanok state that it’s necessary to have a successful posse of people supporting you, including an executive coach, a personal therapist, mentors, champions, and coworkers in your network who help push you toward success. The authors provide powerful reminders of practical career advice, such as: Every day is an interview for your next promotion; finding the right mentor is crucial; and, above all, learning how to be a good mentee can bring immediate professional development results.

Those aspiring to grow as finance and accounting professionals should volunteer for projects that will increase their business acumen and establish allies who will fight injustice and promote DE&I. Embracing the ups and downs, pivots, and long journey of a career path can provide you with what it takes to be successful over the long term. The key is to remain steadfast to your mission and never waver in your commitment to achieve professional success no matter how tough the road may get.

Overall, The Way Up is a great blueprint on how to best prepare African Americans who desire rewarding careers in corporate America, but the advice is also applicable to professionals of all races, creeds, colors, and backgrounds. One way to assist in making your career journey successful is by attaining your CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification. Go to the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) website to learn more about this worldwide association of accounting and finance professionals in business and begin your journey toward career success and leaving a memorable legacy.

About the Authors