Leigh Walker CA

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Leigh Walker CA, a Partner with EY in Melbourne, Australia, chats to ICAS about why she’s proud to be a CA and how her qualification helped her land a job on the other side of the world.

Leigh, who qualified as a CA in 2000, is currently the Regional Independence Leader for EY in Oceania. At EY, she is responsible for the oversight of all independence matters, independence processes, relevant regulatory inspections and the independence of firm acquisitions across the four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea).

“My role involves leading a team that deals with every aspect of independence that applies to audit firms, from the personal queries on which investments are permitted for partners and professionals through to complex consultations on the nature of business relationships that may arise in the course of providing services to our clients”, she said.

Before moving to EY three years ago, Leigh spent 10 years at KPMG. It was whilst at KPMG that she first explored an independence role: “Independence was not an area of the business I had thought about exploring before but when an opportunity arose, I decided to take the leap and happily I have found work that I am passionate about”, she added.

A role in independence allows Leigh to use her skills from working in learning and development and educate others on the underlining reasons for the various policies and interpretations, and how to apply them to their client specific scenarios, while also finding solutions to complex problems.

She said: “I love the technical challenge of my role of helping finding solutions to some very complex problems, although in some cases the solution is a very straightforward ‘no’.”

A globally recognised qualification

It was while studying both engineering and accounting at university that Leigh realised accounting was her route – despite having fun learning to weld whilst at university.

“I realised that I enjoyed the accounting subjects more than engineering. I was also persuaded by the various presentations by, what was at the time, the Big 6 on the opportunities available to CAs.

"I would recommend becoming a CA to anyone who is interested in business as it provides you with a solid foundation of business knowledge and understanding that you can then use as a leap-pad to future success.”

Leigh joined KPMG in Sydney in 2006, just after she moved over from Glasgow with her family due to an opportunity that arose for her husband.

She said: “It was whilst trying to find a job in Sydney that I came to really appreciate the global recognition of my CA qualification.

"Finding a job on the other side of the world was relatively easy, in part due to me being a CA.”

A changing profession

With the rising use of Blockchain, robotic processing and artificial intelligence, businesses are changing, and Leigh believes that the support they need from CAs also needs to transform.

She said: “'The biggest challenge for CAs is keeping current with the pace of change of how businesses operate.

"With the developments arising from the reviews underway in the UK and the likely global impact of these reviews, I am expecting changes across the independence regulations which makes it a very interesting time to be involved in this area of the profession.”

As CAs are, in many cases, there to enable businesses to grow and develop in a responsible way, and are often seen as trusted advisors to clients, Leigh highlights the importance for CAs to do what they can to continue to deserve that trust.

Proud to be a CA

Bringing up two children whilst managing her career is something Leigh sees as her greatest achievement – an achievement she shares with her husband as it has really been a team effort.

She said: “Although having teenagers may not result in as much interrupted sleep, with their sporting commitments – a must when living in sports-mad Melbourne – they need at home support just as much as when they were little. With my husband’s support, I have been able to explore all the career opportunities available to me that has resulted in me joining the EY partnership earlier this year.”

On what makes her proud to be a CA Leigh added: “I am proud to be a member of the Scottish CA club, when I see stories of other CAs achieving across the globe, I am reminded of how truly globally recognised our qualification is.”

Leigh Walker CA, Partner, EY

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