Career Conversations: Andrew Brown CA

Modern professional city
By Lesley Stewart, CA Today

25 July 2017

"Take a gamble," says Andrew Brown CA and CFO of entrepreneurial startup Ooni, when asked for his best career advice.

Ooni are the company who revolutionised the craft of creating a wood-fired pizza at home. Now sold in over 60 countries, the first ever portable and affordable wood-fired oven has turned Ooni into one of the UK's fastest growing companies, with revenue growth of 235% and 340% in the past two years.

Andrew joined the innovative firm as CFO after 10 years with KPMG Glasgow, working in Financial Sector Audit.

Following his inspiring advice at the recent Career Conversations event, we asked this ambitious CA to share his top career advice with us.

1. Figure out how to align your success

Find an environment where your own success is aligned with the success of the business and those around you. I was lucky enough to work for an amazing leadership team at KPMG, who were willing to invest in me and encourage me to accept new and varied roles that would help me grow – even if that did mean I eventually left the firm to pursue those roles.

2. Play the long game

Have some patience. Promotions and pay rises are all very nice, but they don’t always lead to the biggest steps and best experiences to take you towards your longer term goals. The most impressive people I have worked with have always been able to focus on the long term and find valuable experience and growth from any situation they face. If you’re constantly challenged and learning then that is a good sign that you’re progressing – even if it’s not immediately reflected in your title and pay-packet.

3. Take advice, but be cautious 

Take all the advice you can get… but don’t forget that every path is unique and be very wary of 'survivorship' bias. There is as much to learn from the mistakes and regrets of others as there is from their success. And even then, it’s always going to be difficult to pinpoint the real drivers and influences which have taken people to where they are. Just because Warren Buffett eats all his meals standing up doesn’t mean you won’t be successful if you sit down to dine.

4. Realise the power of CA

Don’t underestimate the value of your CA training. Moving from financial sector audit to a business embedded in manufacturing, fulfilment and eCommerce was hardly a natural step for me. It was very daunting, however, I have quickly come to see just how unknowingly well prepared I have been through my training and experience. This has allowed me to adapt to the role and bring fresh perspective to the business – in both a finance and operational capacity.

5. Be brave enough to take a risk 

Take a gamble. At Ouni, I’ve been very lucky to find myself in an exciting role in a fast growing business and working with good friends. But it was still a difficult decision to leave the relative security and well-trodden path auditing at a Big Four firm. Having the CA qualification made the decision easier – because I have faith that it has equipped me to succeed, but also because it provides me with a safety net if I ever do want to move on or step back into practice.

Inspiring advice from CAs. Find out about our mentoring programmes and the incredible effect they can have on your career journey. Designed to work with all career stages ICAS offers career mentoringmentoring for ICAS Foundation students, and business mentoring. To find out more visit today and search ‘mentoring’.

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