Take a look inside Springfords: The firm with a female majority

Female business partners
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

12 October 2016

Accountancy offers the work/life balance that working mothers need, according to Carol Wright CA, Partner at Springfords Chartered Accountants.

Springfords, an independent firm based in Edinburgh, has a impressive track record with female accountants in senior positions.

“We have five Partners and three of them are women," noted Carol. "I think I have been quite lucky because the firm had female partners in place when I joined nearly 20 years ago.

Carol Wright CA"That undoubtedly made the journey to my current position easier."

Carol is a Business Growth Specialist with more than 30 years of experience in professional practice. She qualified with Arthur Young and has been with Springfords since 1996.

“Accountancy as a career choice offered me a very flexible solution. For example, it meant I could work from home when my son was very young and part-time as he grew older," she said.

“My experience has been a very positive one. Being a woman hasn’t held me back and neither has having a family."


A mother's dedication

Carol attributes her ability to maintain both a successful professional career and good home life to the accommodating attitude within Springfords.

“I was working part-time when I was made a Partner. Making it to this level while still holding on to quality time with my son has been my greatest achievement, I think.

“I have seen him grow into an accomplished young man, even though I have been working while he was growing up. Having that option to work part-time has been so beneficial.

“As a mum, you can have this guilt complex about not being able to spend time with your kids. I have been very lucky being able to combine my career with being there when my son attended after school swim club.

"I’ve definitely had the best of both worlds!"

In fact, she added that her time outside of the firm was likely a positive influence on her work ethic.

Being a woman hasn’t held me back and neither has having a family.

“Don’t feel guilty about taking time away from the business to review and reflect," she said.

"We, as a firm, believe passionately in work/life balance. That comes from a partner level right down through the workforce. We don’t have an overtime culture.

"I think one of the reasons I was promoted was the different perspective I was able to offer because I worked part-time and was, therefore, able to step back and think more creatively."

That creative outlook could also, at least partially, be down to Carol's varied career. She has significant experience with the engineering, leisure and transport sectors, as well as having worked in an academic capacity.

"The CA offers you that flexibility. It is widely recognised as a mark of quality so I think having those initials after your name means a lot.

"I have tutored at the University of Edinburgh and have been an exam marker for ICAS, plus I have sat on a number of Boards. Having the CA gave me the credibility to do that. It has opened a lot of doors for me," she added.

Value your team

Carol's key advice for other CAs is to put effort into working well with those around you.

She said: “Value the contribution of everyone on your team. Make sure you encourage and treat everybody with respect.

"If you have a successful team around you then you are more likely to be successful yourself. Climbing the ladder, especially as a woman, you need a supportive network around you."

The way Springfords operates and manages its people certainly seems conducive to good working relationships.

“Springfords has a very ‘flat’ structure. We don’t have the traditional hierarchy of Partners, Senior Managers, Managers, Assistant Managers, so on and so forth.

"Our staff basically manage their own portfolios of clients and are effectively working as sole traders within the firm but drawing on the knowledge of experts within specialist areas," Carol explained.

She takes the development of her people seriously and this is reflected throughout the business.

“It’s really rewarding to see my staff grow and flourish in skills and confidence.

"We have a very encouraging culture at Springfords and I get a real buzz seeing my younger colleagues gaining in confidence and adopting a can-do attitude."

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