Rory Shedden CA: ICAS Global Ambassador to Boston
Andrea Murad speaks to Rory Shedden CA, Director of Solution Development for Radius, about his career strategy, becoming an ICAS ambassador in New England, and his life as an expat on three continents.
As an ICAS Global Ambassador based in Boston, Rory is keen to meet other CAs in the region and to build a strong network: “We still have some work to do in terms of how we achieve this, but I think the desire and ambition is clear.
“Also, if someone is moving to Boston, I’d be happy to be their point person as they settle into the city. Adjusting to life in a new country can be a challenge, and I’d be happy to try and give people a few tips to make the process easier.”
Rory is a firm believer that working internationally has been a driving force in his career, and currently works at Radius, which offers advisory and outsourcing services to support clients expanding internationally.
The interesting roles create themselves and I had a lot of great opportunities to learn and travel.
He is well placed to advise on international matters, considering his career trajectory across the UK, Germany, India and the US. After a few years with EY’s audit team in Bristol, he yearned for a fast-paced change: “My girlfriend (now my wife) wanted to spend time in Germany to build her career as a translator - we both speak German. I transferred to Munich with EY’s advisory team, which was growing rapidly,” said Rory.
“There were always new projects and a lot of action, and the pace was fast and dynamic. The interesting roles create themselves and I had a lot of great opportunities to learn and travel.
“At work, we spoke German all the time, but for projects with larger German businesses, the deliverables were normally in English. This was perfect for me because my spoken German is better than my written! My impression was that larger companies like EY or a blue chip will have many English language projects, but smaller or local businesses are much more German speaking.”
On taking a sabbatical
Rory was doing well in his Munich role, but his thoughts turned to next moves, and the option of a sabbatical came to the fore: “I decided to take some time and figure out what made me happy and what I would be passionate about. I had some push back from friends and family, but I decided to go for it and make it work.
“I spent time hiking in the Alps and Scotland, cycling, river-rafting, reading books and trying things out. I had to rely on savings during this time, but by the end of it, I was very clear about what I wanted from my next job and what I felt I had to offer.
“I wanted to be in a fast growth business, venture capital or private equity backed, and ideally in a generalist role where I could work alongside a management team learning how they ran the business. I think this focus helped recruiters pitch me to businesses in the market.
“During interviews, only one or two people asked about my time off. I don’t think it caused concerns for the people looking to recruit me - in fact, when it did come up, I just found people to be really interested in what I’d got up to.”
Setting his sights on India with Radius
“I chose to work for Radius, a company with a great growth story and where I could learn from a really strong management team. The role was in Bristol. Following a merger with a key competitor, I moved from my initial role into a series of fantastic positions working directly with the COO, leading an office in India and finally coming to Boston to work with our Sales teams.
We were able to reduce staff attrition from a ‘red’ rating to historic lows and improve our delivery and quality metrics.
“We do outsourcing for international, emerging growth businesses, and have a shared service center in India. I was traveling there regularly, and after about a year, there was a leadership gap in the Mumbai office.
“The COO asked me to take the reins until we could recruit a permanent leader. During that time, we were able to reduce staff attrition from a ‘red’ rating to historic lows and improve our delivery and quality metrics. We built a platform for my replacement so he would be set up for success.”
Turning around an office with 500 staff
“I have a great working relationship with the COO, whom I was reporting to, and felt confident that everyone was fully aligned on expectations and desired outcomes. This clarity enabled everyone to work together to succeed. It was a hugely positive time, and I honestly didn’t consider the chance of failure.
“I was trying to get people to believe in themselves and to build a high-performing management team. I have strong analytical skills from my consulting experience and the CA qualification, and was able to synthesize data, make decisions and adjust course on the fly.
I applied for the 35 under 35 One Young CA competition in 2016 and was listed in the leadership category - meeting so many impressive and passionate CAs was a special experience.
“I hadn’t led an office that size before - there were 500 people. When you’re on the floor every day, you see things from a different perspective. As we worked through issues, I tried to be open, honest and transparent with people, and also self-aware of what I didn’t know.
“We have a deep and experienced talent base in the office and not expecting myself to know all the answers freed me to be able to listen and ask questions.
“After my time in India, I applied for the 35 under 35 One Young CA competition in 2016 and was listed in the leadership category - going to the dinner in London and meeting so many impressive and passionate CAs was a special experience.”
About the author
Andrea Murad is a New York–based writer. Having worked on both Wall Street and Main Street, she now pursues her passion for words. She covers business and finance, and her work can be found on BBC Capital, Consumers Digest, Entrepreneur.com, FOXBusiness.com, Global Finance and InstitutionalInvestor.com.