Mobilising development: Katherine Holdstock CA

Katherine and Sir Brian
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

10 October 2017

Katherine Holdstock CA, Sustainability & CSR category winner of the ICAS 35 CAs under 35 competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest, talks to Eleanor O'Neill about following her own path.

The Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility category sought out the young CAs who actively use their skills and expertise to make a positive impact on the world. A passion for sustainability and development causes was a uniting factor.

Katherine impressed the judges with her dedication to providing opportunities to and furthering the careers of young professionals and students. She has greatly influenced the mentoring schemes in a number of organisations.

After years of involvement with development programmes in EY and beyond, Katherine made the decision to pursue the specialism as a full-time career. She moved from her position as Audit Executive into the EY Student Recruitment team last year and has become a champion of social mobility, career mentoring and diversity.

About Katherine

  • Qualified as a CA with EY.
  • 2012: Audit Associate at EY.
  • 2014: Audit Executive at EY.
  • 2016: Student Recruitment Advisor at EY.

How was the 35 CAs under 35 competition as an experience?

I was delighted to be selected as one of the 35 CAs under 35, and to be the winner of the Sustainability & CSR category was an amazing and unexpected experience. The 35 CAs chosen this year are doing fantastic work in the field and it was a privilege to be considered.

Entering the competition gave me the opportunity to reflect on my career journey so far and think about my professional achievements, and attending the awards ceremony gave me the fantastic opportunity to connect with other CAs from across the UK and overseas. I’ve already started to expand and use my networks in a different and more productive way than I have previously and I hope to continue this over the next year and beyond.

On a personal level, entering the competition has given me more confidence, particularly when it comes to self-promotion which is something I struggle with. It was a friend that encouraged me to self-nominate for the competition, and I’m glad she did!

Why do you value professional development?

The quote “life is about the journey, not the destination” comes to mind as the same can be said for a career. We aren’t really taught how to ‘do business’ at school or university, so we have to constantly navigate different learning opportunities.

Sharing experiences and insights and being able to ask questions that allow an individual to map their own route to success is key.

I value professional development as it allows me to keep an open mind and take risks. Having a strong support network has been an invaluable part of my own career, and has directly impacted the decisions I have made.

This is why I have been keen to give back to others through mentoring and coaching. Sharing experiences and insights and being able to ask questions that allow an individual to map their own route to success is key.

Who inspires you?

In the business world I’ve been inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, particularly by her openness on the gender debate in her book Lean In and on resilience in her more recent tile, Option B. Her ability to focus on the positives always shines through and it’s something I try to emulate in my own life.

The phrase “it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder” inspired me to make the move.

I read Lean In as I was making the decision to move away from audit and many of my peers questioning my decision. It was the phrase “it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder” that inspired me to make the move into a people-focussed role, something that I was passionate about and knew was a direction I wanted to take.

What is your advice to CAs who want to take up mentoring?

  • Be passionate about the mentoring relationship you are entering, particularly if it’s your first experience of being a mentor;
  • Try different mentoring styles and ask open-ended questions. Mentoring is about helping an individual to achieve by exploring their own ambitions and interests;
  • Don’t get too involved. It’s easy to become drawn in and try to help solve a mentee’s problems. Know when to step back and seek support if it’s something you’re uncomfortable discussing.

How has the CA qualification helped you in your career?

The CA qualification gave me the technical knowledge and professional network that I believe are solid foundations for successfully navigating the business world.

Through studying for the CA and training contract at EY, I not only developed knowledge of accounting and finance but also a strong commercial awareness and set of transferable soft skills.

The CA brings with it a level of professional credibility and being able to share those experiences with the students I work with helps them make informed decisions about starting their career.

Investec Click & Invest, headline sponsor of the ICAS Young Leaders’ Summit and One Young CA Awards 2017, is a new online actively managed investment management service for UK residents with £10,000 or more to invest.


  • CA life
  • Business
  • One Young CA

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