Olivia Maude, CA Student
Olivia Maude, CA Student, wants to pursue a career which enables her to use analytical and problem-solving skills and apply them to business situations.
I’m a graduate trainee accountant at Baillie Gifford in Edinburgh.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I am on the graduate route at ICAS. I originally completed an undergraduate degree in Biology, followed by a master’s degree, both at the University of York. I am now undertaking my training contract at Baillie Gifford.
Why did you become a CA?
Whilst I enjoyed completing my degrees, I did not see my future in academia and so I began to explore other options. Growing up on a farm in County Durham, I would often assist with the accounts. Accountancy appealed to me because of my analytical and problem-solving mentality.
What skills do you think are essential to becoming a CA?
When working to become a CA it is essential to be self-motivated and hard working as the qualification is extremely challenging. Students are required to be disciplined and organised in order to balance study with work and home life. Integrity is also crucial because there is an emphasis on ethics throughout the qualification.
What skills do you hold from your science degree that help you as a CA?
I have developed strong critical thinking skills when reviewing my own and others’ work. These skills have proven to be invaluable when analysing large data sets. I would also say having to devise experiments for my master’s degree has helped me to fine tune my attention to detail.
Why Baillie Gifford?
I was impressed with Baillie Gifford’s strong reputation and their focus on investing on the long-term. In addition, I was drawn to the rotational aspect of this programme, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of how the firm operates and builds a diverse network. For me personally, without an accounting or finance degree, not having to choose a specialism from the outset was a very attractive feature.
Can you tell us more about your initial training?
We were tasked with researching each of the host departments, culminating in a group talk. This was a fantastic opportunity to work as a team and allowed us to learn more about each of the departments and how they operate.
I have been impressed by the Graduate Development Programme at Baillie Gifford alongside the ICAS training, which has focussed on the development of softer skills, particularly those linked to the virtual world.
What has it been like learning online during COVID?
I missed the opportunity to network with my cohort and being able to catch lecturers at the end of a lecture to ask a quick question. However, I did enjoy the lectures being recorded, which was useful when revising.
What has been one of your biggest challenges during your CA journey?
I have had a stammer since primary school, but I haven’t let this stand in my way of taking on new challenges and pursuing my goals. I have found it best to be honest and upfront with people and this has been met with understanding and support. The recruitment team and selection panel at Baillie Gifford were very inclusive and accommodating about my disability, throughout the process and I have felt this even more since I joined the firm.
How do you create a good work life balance?
I love to cross stitch as I find it extremely creative and calming. Exercise for me also really lifts my mood. When I was younger, this meant chasing after the sheep in the fields but has now turned into activities such as yoga, hiking, and cycling.
What is your advice to anyone thinking about becoming a CA?
On a personal note, my family have always instilled a saying in me, “Shy Bairns Get Nowt”. This is a North East saying, meaning “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” This motto has inspired me to put myself forward more often, for projects and additional responsibilities at work. When I started at Baillie Gifford, I asked the Heads of Departments supporting the Accountancy Graduate Programme what they wish they had known at the start of their career. This was an excellent way to gain some insightful advice.