Lynne Walker CA on transitioning from audit to Head of Business Advisory at Johnston Carmichael
Lynne Walker CA tells us her career story, from auditing in the Highlands to supporting businesses as they grow in an ever-changing environment.
How did you get into the profession?
For me, it was an easy choice. I knew I wanted to be an accountant and I enjoyed working with numbers, so I took business-related subjects at school and went on to study it at university. Coming into the final year of my MA, I was starting to think what I would do next and the CA qualification stood out.
Where has your career taken you since then?
Beyond what I could have expected. My career started in audit, training with Deloitte in Aberdeen before moving back to my roots in the Highlands where I joined Johnston Carmichael.
It had a growing office, which enabled me to really thrive in a new role. Through the support and encouragement of colleagues, I progressed to Audit Director. In more recent years, my role developed and I became more involved in our Business Advisory business line. I was formally appointed as Head of Business Advisory for the firm last year.
Is it a big difference going from your role in audit to business advisory?
Absolutely. Within audit, I was concentrating more on the local teams and was very much focused on my client portfolio. This new role is concentrating on the firm and our strategy and, with more than 150 people in the business line, ensuring we continue to support and develop our people.
Crucially, we need to keep up with changes in accounting standards and legislation, and ensure we remain relevant in a profession that will be affected by automation and digitisation.
Has networking been important to your career?
I identified early on that if you want to increase your profile, the best way to do it is through networking and attending events.
I never used to enjoy networking, but the best way to overcome this is to do it - ask someone to mentor you in this area to help build your confidence. My advice is to get involved as early as you can in your career to build that network, making it easier for the future.
What are the characteristics of a good leader?
A good leader is passionate about the firm or company they work for and has a desire to continually improve on where they are now. They will care about their colleagues, inspire those around them and encourage input. You have to know as a leader when it’s your turn to make that decision, be able to stand by it and influence others to come along with you.
What advice would you give to newly qualified CAs?
Remember it’s not a competition. There doesn’t need to be a set time-frame to achieve things, so don’t compare yourself to others. We’ve all got our strengths and we should play to those.
There are so many roles and routes out there for everybody. There will be different opportunities and it’s about identifying where your strengths lie and pursuing the right direction for you. I have never been someone that can give you a five-year plan, even now, because I have always found opportunities present themselves if you work hard and are willing to challenge your abilities.
This Q&A is based on Lynne’s interview as part of the ICAS Gold Dust Career Insights series.