The CA helping to start up start ups

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By Shaolei McKie CA, Investment Executive, Archangel Investors LTD

10 May 2019

When did you qualify as a CA and who did you train with?

I trained with Coopers & Lybrand in Edinburgh in 1997.

What have been the key points in your career?

Qualifying as a CA. Working in Leveraged Finance within Bank of Scotland Corporate Banking, providing debt solutions for private equity-backed acquisitions and buyouts.

Financial Controller for Corran Properties, and now Investment Executive at Archangel Investors Ltd.

What does your job involve?

I work as part of the executive team which has investment management responsibility for a portfolio of start up companies in the tech and life sciences sectors.

I specifically provide investment support for fundraising, including due diligence and “legals”.

We also continually evaluate new business proposals as potential investment opportunities, and work closely with incubators, universities and accelerators in Scotland.

Who do you report to?

The executive team work closely together and we report to the Archangel Board of Directors, who have a wealth of industry and investment experience between them.  Ultimately though, we are accountable to the Archangel members.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The incredible variety; every day is different and there is continuous learning from the multitude of challenges.

… And the worst?

Saying no to new business proposals. Scotland has an amazing ecosystem supporting entrepreneurs and there are so many exciting and innovative ideas, but we cannot invest in them all.

Archangels’ philosophy is to offer patient support throughout a company’s journey and that can be 10 years plus.

As a result we are only able to invest in one or two new companies each year. We spend the majority of our time supporting the existing portfolio.

Proudest moment so far?

I am proud that I have been able to continue on an interesting career path, combined with raising our children and achieving a work-life balance.

I attribute this in large part to my CA qualification, which enabled me to pursue a variety of roles when the children were younger, including tutoring at Edinburgh University and exam marking for ICAS.

What’s your next challenge?

To improve my piano playing. I started learning about three years ago.

Have you had a mentor so far in your career? Or have you ever been a mentor?

No mentor as such, but I admire many people that I have worked with and am working with.

I am trying now to provide a good example to my children, and mentoring them through their exam years.

How has your training as a CA helped prepare you for this role – if it has?

The foundation in business and commercial awareness has been crucial, as has the general professional approach to work.

What sort of professional development, since qualifying, have you found to be particularly useful?

When I changed career from leveraged finance to becoming a financial controller, I found the courses available at ICAS to be a great help, since I had not practised as an accountant for a long time.

What advice would you give to a CA looking to pursue this career route?

Work hard, be adaptable and network.


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