Top 35 CAs Under 35 2017
We are delighted to announce the top 35 CAs under 35.
These are the most promising rising stars of our profession. The CAs who are passionate about making the world a better place and who are leading and inspiring others. The CAs who are standing out from the crowd.
Each nominee was considered for one of four competition categories:
For CAs who can demonstrate a knack for entrepreneurial initiative and have used their skills to help shape original ideas into a successful reality.
- Innovation & Technology:
For CAs who are known for implementing dramatic change and thrive in an environment of new innovative processes and technologies.
- Leadership & Influence:
For CAs who motivate and inspire those around them while driving their organisations toward diversity, inclusivity and success.
- Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility:
For CAs that are dedicated to making a positive impact in both business and wider society with deference to sustainability and corporate responsibility.
From the 35, four category winners will be announced at this year's Young Leaders Summit & One Young CA Awards in London on 14 September. One of the category winners will then be crowned One Young CA 2017.
Click below to expand and explore the top 35 CAs under 35 2017.
Graeme Gibson CA, 34
Head of Finance Projects, Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh
Graeme graduated from the University of Oxford in 2003 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics. In 2005 he started his training with Deloitte while working in in audit, and qualified in 2009. He is now the Head of Finance Projects at Edinburgh Airport and has made a significant impact on the business in the two years he’s been in the role.
“I am currently Head of Finance Projects at Edinburgh Airport where my team's remit includes strategic and long-term financial planning, debt financing, private equity shareholder management, capital planning and appraisal, treasury & financial risk management, property development, insurance, risk, and pensions.
While Edinburgh Airport is fast growing and entrepreneurial and with sophisticated and disciplined private equity investors, the finance team is relatively modest. As a result, I have a broad-ranging role and significant exposure to our shareholders, advisors, banks and long-term institutional investors. The role requires agility, competence and confidence.
Prior to joining Edinburgh Airport I was the Group Treasurer at Manchester Airports Group where I managed the treasury function across a portfolio of four international airports. The highlight of this role was leading the process to establish MAG in the listed debt capital markets, obtain investment grade credit ratings and develop new relationships with a number of long-term bond investors.
I started my career with Deloitte in Edinburgh in 2005. I initially trained as an auditor in financial services while studying for my CA qualification before moving into Treasury Consulting to build the advisory business in Scotland.
My career path has evolved rather than been subject to any design. I've always looked for opportunities where I will be challenged - whether that be via issues, environments or people.
I enjoy working in fast moving businesses and with people who are capable and driven. It is this appetite and enthusiasm that led me to a traineeship with a 'Big 4' advisory firm and then onto ambitious infrastructure businesses working hard to commercialise their activities and maximise shareholder value.
Longer-term my aspiration is to be a Chief Financial Officer or Finance Director in Scotland. I am conscious there is much I need to learn but my broad experiences - across corporate finance, treasury, financial planning & analysis, financial control and process / internal control - put me on the right track”.
Andrew Hope CA, 30
Associate, Quest Corporate, Edinburgh
Andrew began his career in 2010 when he entered the graduate scheme at Deloitte in Edinburgh, joining the corporate audit team. During his four years at Deloitte where he achieved the CA qualification, he developed a sound understanding of finance and business through his roles with clients such as Johnston Press, BSkyB and a handful of small owner managed businesses. He was also lucky enough to travel, being seconded to New Zealand. He currently works with Quest Corporate and is also Finance Director for Curo Compensation.
“Quest is a small corporate finance advisor in Edinburgh with a focus on fundraising and aiding exit events, mostly for high growth technology companies. Quest offered me an opportunity that was not achievable with Deloitte at that time – the ability to continue working with smaller businesses, providing advice throughout and ultimately on completion of corporate events. It also offered me opportunities to work inside these businesses on an interim basis.
My role with has expanded beyond simply being a corporate advisor. I actively participate in the management of companies (on an interim basis) as Finance Director, with my work aligned with the shareholders on achieving corporate events.
Previous to this I worked with pureLiFi, the Edinburgh University spin out who have wireless communications technology by providing Wi-Fi through light. On completing a significant investment for the company in 2014, I was then asked to go into the business as part time FD in order to implement a finance function, governance and steer the company through to its next investment.
I actively managed the business as part of the management team while maintaining a corporate advisor role, culminating in July 2015 when the business brought in over £6m of new equity investment from Temasek (the Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund) and Scottish Angel Investors. More recently taken on the FD role with Curo Compensation, an Edinburgh and London based software company who provide best-in-class annual review and HR software to enterprise clients worldwide.
The business required a new FD at the turn of the year and my role has been to get under the skin of the business, implement and manage a new working relationship with an outsourced finance function and support the business through an equity investment process.
My involvement will continue post completion of this new investment where my focus is on supporting the business achieve its growth strategy. Both roles have been similar in some aspects. Both required the ability to steer the company through transactions and provide sound financial governance, allowing the business to achieve its strategic aims.
However both roles are poles apart as the companies being at different stages of their life cycle. pureLiFi was a very early stage university spin out raising its first tranches of private equity and focused on technology development. Curo, on the other hand, is a well-established and revenue generating business.
I chose corporate finance as my career path as it allows me to work with some of the best entrepreneurs and exciting high growth companies in Scotland. The opportunities beyond this are endless. The fact I currently get to work inside these businesses, face new challenges on a daily basis and have a positive impact is extremely rewarding.
The CA qualification has been fundamental in allowing me to achieve my career to date. The CA qualification and the training ground from Deloitte has given me a solid financial understanding which now allows me to advise and work with these exciting high growth companies. I now look to build on these foundations and continue to pursue new opportunities as my career develops”.
Chioma Idigo CA, 31
Director, Padook Designs, Lagos, Nigeria
Chioma trained as a CA with PKF and was part of the audit practice where she worked on some high profile public sector clients. After qualifying as a CA, she moved to PwC Lagos where she worked in the accounting consulting team which provides complex accounting support to listed and multinational companies in Africa. In 2016, Chioma launched Padook Designs, a Nigerian Furniture brand that highlights the richness and vibrancy of Nigeria’s culture.
“I am young. I am a CA and I am the co-founder of Padook Designs, a brand that highlights the uniqueness, beauty and quality of Nigerian made furniture.
I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug in 2015 and was looking for a way to shine a spotlight on the uniqueness and beauty of Africa. I joined forces with two of my co-founders and came up with Padook Designs, a Nigerian furniture brand that highlights the diversity of the Continent’s art and culture, while building a sustainable and high quality supply chain by training and working with local artisans through academies.
After moving back to Lagos in 2010, I struggled to find good quality, locally made furniture that reflected the richness and vibrancy of Nigerian culture. Additionally, market surveys revealed that poor quality or a lack of consistency in production quality greatly reduced the ability of artisans to charge appropriately for their items. This drove me to start Padook Designs.
Building a business from scratch has been challenging but we are committed to rolling the academies out across Lagos, Nigeria and eventually the rest of Africa.
The most challenging aspect has been raising funding to grow the business in a sustainable way. We are currently in the final stages of negotiating grants from the Lagos State Government and from a number of selected NGOs but the economic recession in Nigeria has made getting funding more challenging.
Despite these challenges, we are extremely pleased with our success in helping six artisans through our academy. We are helping people develop skills to grow their livelihood and we have tapped into a market segment of people in Nigeria who want African inspired and locally produced furniture and art.
One key target for the rest of the year is rolling out the academies to a further two cities in Nigeria. We eventually want to bring the talent of the local African carpenter, painter, weaver and carver to the doorstep of the domestic and international customer.
I am very proud to be a CA and the lessons I learned all those years ago when I qualified, have had an impact on my career as an auditor, consultant and now a business owner. As a founder of a multi-faceted business that is building a unique Nigerian brand, I have been able to lean on the resources provided by ICAS and learn from all the successful CAs I read about in the CA magazine and online. I want to draw attention to the fact that the qualification is universal and translates easily across the globe”.
Suzy Kerton CA, 29
MBA student & Founder, Anything International Limited, London
Suzy is currently a MBA student at Imperial College Business School and she runs her own accounting practice. Suzy previously worked at the Cabinet Office and was CFO of a cloud accounting software company. She decided to do her MBA to improve her soft skills, being leadership and managerial skills, as her goal is to become a board director in the next 5 years. She is very passionate about gender equality and the MBA has presented opportunities for her to influence behaviour and start initiatives that help gender equality at Imperial, which she hopes to replicate in her next step after the MBA.
“I joined the Young Leaders Board following the 2016 One Young CA competition and I will complete the first rotation as Chair of the Young Leaders Board.
Further, since the competition last year I have grown my accountancy practice to service 15 small business clients while completing my MBA at Imperial College.
At Imperial I have taken on several leadership both being appointed to positions and also using my own influence to create leadership positions. I was appointed Social Leader of the Full Time MBA, Student Ambassador and Events Director for the Entrepreneurship Club.
Further, during my time at Imperial I have led the movement to improve gender equality in the business school. I created a group called the Allies to encourage men and women to work together for gender equality. As leader of the Allies, I have influenced the MBA so that the programme now includes workshops on unconscious bias and maternity/paternity leave.
Further, I attended the ICAS women in leadership breakfast as featured in the CA magazine to discuss women in the workplace with senior female leaders and I have also produced content for icas.com on the topic of gender equality.
At Imperial, I have been able to influence senior management to review their lecture content policy to ensure that it is inclusive and representative of both male and female students. At Imperial, I was also selected to complete an exchange at ESAN Business School in Lima, Peru, which I will be attending in July.
The CA qualification has totally shaped my career and given me so many opportunities including going on international secondment to Argentina”.
Kimberley Oliver CA, 29
Director, Xenith Financial Consulting Limited, Aberdeen
At the age of 22, Kimberley qualified as a CA achieving first time passes in all the examinations including a commendation in the Test of Professional Expertise exam whilst working at PwC. She was subsequently promoted to Assurance Manager at the age of 23, representing one of the youngest promotions within the firm. Kimberley set up her own business, Xenith Financial Consulting Limited in 2016. At the end of its first year, Xenith achieved a six-figure turnover and has successfully completed work for a variety of clients from small growing businesses to listed billion-pound turnover companies.
“In 2013, I became Group Financial Controller for Nautronix Group Limited, a high growth, global SME. Responsible for the global finance function, I was an integral part of the management team prior to being involved in the successful sale of the Group. By 2015, I had advanced to become the Group Finance Director of a global recruitment group before setting up my own business, Xenith Financial Consulting Limited in May 2016.
Xenith Financial was launched in Aberdeen during the midst of the longest and most severe oil and gas downturn in generations representing a huge personal and professional risk by leaving a lucrative Finance Director role to create my own legacy. Despite the turmoil in the sector, I identified a gap in the market for quality, flexible but ultimately affordable senior finance support by using my vast knowledge of the sector and awareness of business needs to create my own company. Although I trained as an accountant with a “Big-4” accounting firm, I have a passion for supporting smaller enterprises, working closely with management teams and making a significant difference to their organisations.
Xenith Financial allows SMEs to access high quality finance support on a fully flexible basis to meet their business needs rather than pay for a full-time staff member. We offer tailored services to each client that can be mobilised quickly and deliver immediate results at an affordable price. The company principles of “simplicity, practicality and efficiency” were established early and I have focused on creating a track record of delivering on these.
During the first three months, the business delivered several important engagements to a range of clients, from business forecasts for a growing small business to project assistance for a FTSE 250 company, and we quickly developed a strong revenue stream, solid client base and a pipeline of work into 2017 despite the economic challenges faced by businesses in Aberdeen and competition from established consulting companies.
In October 2016, only five months since the business was established, the first full-time staff member was employed. At the end of its first year, Xenith achieved a six-figure turnover and has successfully completed work for a variety of clients from small growing businesses to listed billion-pound turnover companies.
The CA qualification has made a significant difference to my success. There is already an established level of credibility and expertise before you meet a potential new client as it proves your value as a business advisor before you walk in the door. The breadth of experience you obtain with the CA qualification has helped throughout all of my client assignments, whether it is providing technical accounting guidance, building a forecasting model or sourcing new finance. The CA qualification helped me to obtain my previous roles, without which I would not have had the confidence or the experience to set up Xenith Financial. I am proud to represent the CA qualification, which is why my opening introductory line is always “I am a CA”.
The CA qualification has provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge in all areas of business and has developed me as a valued and trusted business advisor not just as a traditional accountant. The CA qualification provides credibility and proof of my value and expertise before I meet any potential client. The qualification has enabled me to obtain all of my previous staff roles, without which I would not have developed the confidence or experience to set up Xenith Financial”.
Raj Patel CA, 33
Managing Director, A.R.P. Capital Partners, London
Raj graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Economics in 2005 and began his career training to become a CA with EY in London. In 2009, he moved to Goldman Sachs before partnering with a former colleague to co-found A.R.P. Capital Partners, a UK-investment holding company focused on the sub-£25m revenue end of the UK SME market
“I qualified as a CA in EY’s M&A Lead Advisory Group. Soon after, I moved to Goldman Sachs (London), as an Equity Research Analyst covering the European Aerospace and Defence sector, where I also obtained the CFA charter. In 2011/2012, put together a business plan which would allow me to leverage the skills and experience gained up until that point and springboard into senior leadership roles in the UK SME space.
I had always wanted to utilise my skills in unique ways such that I could not only make a tangible difference to the direction of small-medium sized business and the people within them, but also satisfy my personal desire to craft a unique entrepreneurial path for myself and fast-track myself to an Executive/CEO position. Whilst my background and experience were plentiful in the corporate and investment banking world, they were in relatively short supply in smaller SME businesses, and I believed that my efforts could make a real difference in that space.
With that in mind, I partnered with a former Cambridge colleague, and in 2013, co-founded A.R.P. Capital Partners, an investment holding company supported by a broad range of equity partners (more than 20+ investors including private equity, family offices, HNW individuals and high-profile CEOs/Entrepreneurs from the US, Europe and Africa). Via A.R.P. Capital Partners, in 2015, I led a leveraged management buy-in into a £10m turnover company in the heating and renewable energy sector employing over 120 people at the time of acquisition. I assumed the role of Co-CEO of that business (Glevum Heating) despite having had no prior experience in senior executive/board level positions.
I also remain Co-MD of A.R.P. Capital Partners. I therefore have a dual role of operating a company as CEO and managing and deploying further capital for investors via the investment holding parent vehicle founded in 2013.
In the roughly two years since the acquisition of Glevum, I have overseen a large-scale management and operational re-structure of the business, against the backdrop of a difficult market and macro economic environment. This has required careful management of a complex group of stakeholders (equity investors, senior lender, non-executive board and operational management and staff). This has been particularly challenging (and rewarding) given that I am a first-time CEO with no prior industry experience, and I am proud of the progress made within a relatively short period of time.""
Devika Srimal Bapna CA, 30
Founder & CEO KANABIS, New-Delhi
Devika started her career at EY, London in Financial Services and simultaneously qualified as a CA with ICAS. She is a graduate from the University of Warwick, and holds an MBA from Duke University, USA. In 2015, she launched KANABIS, a brand of fashionable, high quality and Peta approved vegan footwear for women. Devika is also a teacher at Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Delhi.
“I always had an entrepreneurial itch since I was little and found my calling when I moved back to Delhi and identified a gap in the footwear industry. After a brief stint at Deloitte in corporate finance, I started KANABIS- a brand for fashionable, high quality and Peta approved vegan footwear for women.
As an animal lover and PETA volunteer, I gave up leather few years ago and had a tough time finding good non-leather shoes that were stylish, good quality and affordable. I noticed the unstructured footwear industry in India- we either have the non-Indian players that are expensive and mostly do leather shoes or the unorganized/unbranded segment where quality, price, make etc. is questionable.
It was almost a light-bulb moment when I thought ‘what the heck, I should start my own brand!’ And KANABIS was born.
All our products are made of high quality canvas, fabric and other leather substitutes keeping compassion for animals as a core value of the business. The designs are exclusive and tastefully crafted with a careful mix of fabrics for the right look and comfort. We keep a close eye on the current and upcoming trends in fashion. Each shoe also has a quirky name that tells a story about it.
KANABIS is a play on the word Cannabis (aka marijuana!) since we use a lot of canvas instead of leather in our shoes and canvas was historically made from hemp that came from cannabis.
We are available offline at exhibitions and multi brand stores and online at www.kanabis.in and all leading marketplaces in India.
In two years, we have been featured by Elle India magazine, NDTV news channel, Your Story and several other blogs and fashion media.
Our vision is to grow KANABIS into a strong, sustainable, global brand”.
Leadership & Influence Category
James Blackburn CA, 34
Head of Systems and Control, Asia Pacific, Savills, Hong Kong
James Blackburn qualified as a CA in 2008 while working for PwC in London. After qualifying he moved to Risk Assurance, specialising in controls redesign work for system implementations. He built specific expertise in working across borders, spending extended periods on system implementations for companies operating in Ghana and Barbados. After returning to the UK, he built a diverse team providing advisory services for management information systems implementations. He then moved to Hong Kong, working for Savills Asia Pacific as their Head of Systems and Control. James is passionate about transforming finance processes and also promoting diversity and inclusiveness.
“Experience in audit work on FTSE 100 audits helped me to recognise and build my skills in analysing and understanding business processes and controls, and influencing stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes when designing new, effective, efficient processes and implementing them.
This work supported a move to Risk Assurance where I specialised in controls redesign work for system implementations. I built specific expertise in working across borders, spending extended periods on system implementations for companies operating in Ghana and Barbados. This work gave me experience in process-focused IT implementation solutions, and I recognised that data and IT systems, using Cloud technology and increasingly automated connectivity, will define best practices in finance processes for enterprise in the next 20 years.
Aside from client facing work I actively participated in PwC London’s Diversity Action Group as Disability Officer and led an initiative to enable more flexible location working for junior staff, particularly parents and caregivers. I find it hugely rewarding to help make our profession more accessible and inclusive, and enjoyed working on this very much. I also find career coaching with junior staff to be very worthwhile and have always worked to support junior staff in their growth, development and promotion. I was delighted to have my efforts recognised when I was awarded People Manager of the Year by PwC London Top Tier Assurance in 2014.
Returning to the UK I built a diverse team (Most Inclusive Team 2015) providing advisory services for management information systems implementations, and after running this for 3 years handed the reins to the manager I had coached in running the team, and pursued my long term goal of applying these skills in industry, to help a business grow and move forward. An opportunity came to do this in Hong Kong, working for Savills Asia Pacific as their Head of Systems and Control. I am overseeing finance modernisation across 15 territories and to this end have implemented a Cloud-based accounting package, interactive dashboarding for management information and an electronic workflow approval system which have enabled us to reduce reliance on paper, bring cost savings, control the business better and process routine items faster, while building a flexible and scalable finance function to support our growth in the region. I find it hugely rewarding to bring change and improvement to businesses and my training as a CA has made this possible.""
Bradley Delamare CA, 33
CEO, Tank Steam Labs, Sydney
Bradley Delamare is the CEO for Tank Stream Labs. He is responsible for leading all aspects of Tank Stream Labs business including operations, corporate partnerships, attracting talented entrepreneurs and innovative start-up businesses to join and operate from the Tank Stream Labs community. He is also responsible for monitoring entrepreneurs, facilitating programs and events.
“Prior to Tank Stream Labs, I spent more than 10 years at EY working within the technology division across Australia and United Kingdom. My career history covers a diverse range of experiences including Accounting, audit, Transaction Services, Business Development and entrepreneurship.
I’ve always had a passion for technology, start-ups and entrepreneurship. The career path through EY has been a successful journey working with technology and early stage businesses when based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. An opportunity arose to move to Sydney, Australia with EY to continue working in the technology sector. From working with in this sector and closer with start-ups, another opportunity arose to work with start-ups on a day to day basis through Tank Stream Labs.
Tank Stream Labs is now Australia's largest technology focused hub/co-working space. It is recognised in the Australian industry as an innovation leader. We help some of the most innovative early stage technology companies in Australia scale. As part of our hub, we have close to 100 innovative early stage companies that are disrupting all industries. Tank Stream Labs is currently based in Sydney, Australia but there are confirmed plans to expand the operations into other cities within Australia. Due to the brand associated with technology and start-ups, it is important that the business helps all Australian start-ups, not just those residing in Sydney.
Since becoming CEO of TSL, I have significantly expanded the operations of the business and grown the financial performance (over 50% growth in revenue in last 12 months). This has included all types of Australian firsts for a technology hub/co-working space including:
* partnerships with domestic (located in other Australian cities) and international technology hubs. Tank Stream Labs currently has partnerships with tech hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Germany and soon to be UK, Sweden, Israel and US.
* partnerships with tech specific industries associations i.e. fintech, insurtech, regtech etc
* technology program aimed to help female entrepreneurs with a non-tech background
My extensive network in the business community has helped me build a strong community of large international corporates that are partners of Tank Stream Labs. These include the likes of EY, IBM, VISA, Talent International, Etihad Airways. All of these corporates provide services and assistance to help all our companies scale globally. Without the support of corporate partners, it makes the process of scaling for businesses even more difficult to achieve.
I have also built Tank Stream Labs to be an events leader in the technology and start up sector. The business hosts between 30 to 50 events a month. All events are aimed to help start-ups whether this is through education, networking, scaling or sales. Events are fundamental to early stage businesses. Tank Stream Labs due to their brand are fortunate to host events with key speakers including business leaders, successful entrepreneurs and even Australian Government officials.
I’m a mentor in the Australian innovation and technology sector and have assisted many businesses with issues and with scaling.
The CA qualification has been fundamental to my career progression to date. It has allowed me to work within EY for 10 years moving between countries and departments. The qualification has given me a structured grounding and an understanding of finance that is fundamental for running a business”.
Jonny Jacobs CA, 34
Head of Supply Chain Finance, UK & Ireland, pladis (formally United Biscuits), London
Jonny leads Supply Chain Finance for pladis UK & Ireland, the global biscuit and confectionery company which brings together the iconic brands of McVitie's, Jacob's, go ahead!, Ulker and Godiva. After graduating with an Accountancy degree, Jonny trained as a CA with KPMG. Following five years in professional practice, Jonny stepped into Industry joining Heineken in its Pub business. Following this, Jonny worked with the international logistics business John Menzies plc on Corporate Strategy and Investor Relations. In 2011, Jonny joined United Biscuits (now part of pladis) guiding the business through major change programs including the company sale to the Turkish conglomerate Yildiz Holding, culture change initiatives and most recently the formation of pladis in June 2016. Other than his core expertise in Finance, Jonny has experience and a keen interest in strategy, organisation design and people development. He joined Aspire (a UK spinal cord injury charity) in 2016 as Treasurer and Trustee.
“In my current role for pladis, I'm proud to lead a fantastic team of 35 financial professionals across Supply Chain Finance in the UK and our Shared Service Centre in India. This includes managing end-to-end Supply Chain Finance across seven Manufacturing sites, the logistics hub, internal and external warehousing, and the Sales and Operations Planning function. My role provides leadership across a range of areas including; planning, reporting, control, strategy, decision support, investment and M&A. I am a member of both the Finance and Supply Chain Executive Committees, providing both function, organisation and business direction. Prior to moving into Supply Chain, I supported pladis on the commercial side of the business. This involved business partnering with the Sales team to ensure we maximised our joint business plans with the UK’s top grocery accounts.
Before pladis, I was Finance Manager at John Menzies plc where I worked closely with the Group CFO. I supported the CFO and the Executive Committee over a broad range of areas including Investor Relations, corporate strategy, statutory & management reporting and planning.
Why did I chose this path? I have a close affinity with consumer branded goods, which came about following my first summer job with Diageo. I just loved the smell of the distillery and was fascinated by the way that simple raw ingredients could produce such iconic drinks. During another summer role at Grant Thornton, I spent time auditing a number of manufacturing sites and it was clear to me that I had a passion and natural curiosity for how products were made and sold. This lead me into the consumer markets division of KPMG where I spent three years auditing a range of food and drink businesses. I did experience other areas, including M&A, services and the public sector, however the lure of consumer goods proved very strong. That led me to join Heineken in a Commercial Finance role that met both my ambition for being at the heart of FMCG and also business partnering. Following that role, an opportunity arose to work with the Group CFO at John Menzies. That role gave me truly fantastic experience operating at the heart of a plc and developing my stakeholder management skills. After two highly formative years at John Menzies, London beckoned and the attraction of the UK’s biggest snacking brands was too good to refuse.
The CA has been the linchpin for my career to date, which I am very grateful for. The training I received was second to none and has supported not only my professional development, but has also shaped me personally. It provided an incredibly solid grounding in core accounting, financial, business and ethical concepts and has given me the tools required for each role. As the Institute has a huge amount of credibility in the marketplace, the qualification has provided an essential stamp of quality for all of my roles. Since qualifying as a CA I've been fortunate enough to work at the heart of some incredible businesses, with very talented people, as well as using my organisational experience to support a very worthy charity - all before my 35th birthday!”.
Catherine Jess-Gibson CA, 32
Finance Business Partner for Economic Development, Department for International Development (DFID), Glasgow
Having enjoyed maths at school, Catherine felt accountancy was a natural progression so undertook a degree in Business and Accounting at the University of Edinburgh. She excelled at her studies and received a number of awards. After qualifying as a CA with KPMG in Edinburgh, she undertook an international secondment with KPMG Cayman Islands, which exposed her to new, complex industries. After three years, she returned to the UK and joined the Department for International Development (DFID) as a Senior Financial Accountant. In 2016 she was promoted to Finance Business Partner for Economic Development, a section of DFID which focuses on advancing economic development in the poorest countries and producing the life-changing progress which comes from growth that transforms economies.
“On obtaining my CA qualification I took the opportunity of an international secondment with KPMG Cayman Islands. Despite having no financial services experience, I applied the knowledge obtained during my CA qualification to audit complex entities within the captive insurance and banking sectors and was successful in obtaining promotion to assistant manager and then manager within a year.
I was asked to design a training programme for new joiners to the Insurance practice and to implement this programme in both the Cayman Islands and the outsource partner office in Delhi. In addition to being a member of the Community committee I also mentored local Caymanians within my department through their career development, focusing on obtaining their CPA qualifications.
After 3 years, I returned to the UK in 2014. I departed from my professional services background and undertook the Senior Financial Accountant role with the Department for International Development (DFID). This role enabled me to be part of the UK’s effort to eliminate extreme poverty.
Despite having not worked in the public sector previously, I immediately led the financial accounting team in the production of the 2014-15 DFID Annual Report & Accounts and successful completion of the audit by the National Audit Office, both within a reduced timeline. My role involved liaising with Ministers and Senior Civil Servants, resulting in the presentation of the Annual Report & Accounts to the Permanent Secretary for signing.
In 2015 I was asked to take on the role of Senior Programme Accounting Adviser, leading on the financial management of DFID’s new investment portfolio along with the Private Sector Department. On identifying a knowledge gap in relation to alternative investments across HM Government I set up a knowledge network, leading meetings for civil servants from several Departments to share best practice and increase technical awareness. I undertook this new adviser role while still retaining leadership of the production of the 2015-16 DFID Annual Accounts and completion of the audit process.
While at DFID I have had the opportunity to get involved in a number of issues that I feel passionately towards. I relished being involved in the creation of the Women’s Network and subsequently sitting on the Committee which has provided me the opportunity to work to strengthen gender equality throughout the Civil Service. I feel strongly about helping others advance their careers and have used my CA experience to mentor junior colleagues through achieving their qualifications as well as becoming a mentor on the ICAS Foundation programme. During 2016 I was nominated by DFID senior leadership for a place on the Civil Service Future Leaders Programme and this has inspired me to seek further opportunities to excel in DFID including undertaking a short term secondment as a Private Secretary to the current DFID Secretary of State, Priti Patel.
In November 2016 I was successful in obtaining promotion to Finance Business Partner for Economic Development, a section of DFID which focuses on advancing economic development in the poorest countries and producing the life-changing progress which comes from growth that transforms economies. In this role I am responsible for leading a finance team to support the Director General for Economic Development in optimising the performance and impact of programme teams whilst ensuring value for money and robust financial management are embedded within strategic decision making. Whilst a departure from my financial accounting background, this role challenges me to use my knowledge and experience to provide strategic advice that considers the political as well as financial implications of decisions”.
Michael McKenna CA, 33
Head of Finance - Entertainment, Music and Events, BBC, London
Michael trained to become a CA with EY in Aberdeen and after qualifying he joined the EY M&A Lead Advisory team in London. In 2011, he decided to leave practice to join the BBC’s Corporate Finance Team. Michael played an integral role in creating BBC Studios, anewly launched commercial production company of the BBC. He is currently Head of Finance of the Entertainment, Music and Events division of this new company.
""I have always been interested in media, and so a career somewhere in the business of TV and film production had always been something I aspired to. I never would have anticipated how much having a CA qualification has opened doors for me into this industry though.
When I set out on my career I knew I wanted to find a way into media, but I also wanted a strong skill and professional qualification under my belt - which would maximise the flexibility and recognition required to be able to move around companies and locations. So after graduating in Business and Management, I made my initial foray working as an Accounts Assistant at an owner managed CA firm, taking bundles of receipts from local sole traders and turning them into a set of accounts. Immediately I found this a rewarding job, both people facing and using my skills, so I knew I wanted to explore further.
It was here I first properly learnt about the value of the CA qualification, and I decided to pursue and push myself to gain a place with a Big 4 firm. I joined EY 2006, where I trained in Aberdeen but also worked out of the Glasgow and Edinburgh offices. I was promoted to Assistant Manager and throughout my time in Scotland met some really amazing people (enjoying all the audit room banter along the way). It was here I had first-hand experience of leading audit teams and taking on development of staff, which I found incredibly rewarding - seeing first-hand the positive impact that you can have on someone’s life and career when you are in a managerial position.
This Audit underpinning has been incredibly valuable ever since, but it was Corporate Finance that I enjoyed the most through studying for ICAS. I knew two things, that Corporate Finance/M&A and the Media business are both hugely centred around London, so it made perfect sense for me to join the EY M&A Lead Advisory team in London. After gaining valuable deal making experience in this team I eventually took the plunge and left practice to enter a role squarely in the media industry - with the BBC Corporate Finance team in 2011.
I started off owning the Pan-BBC funding model, which led me into ownership of the overall BBC financial plan through times of huge change at the organisation. I was promoted to Corporate Finance Partner, and eventually in 2014 was given responsibility for managing the development of all the Analysts in the team, where I tried hard to ensure they gained development opportunities and reach their potential.
The convergence of all my interests and professional skills came to a head in 2014, when the BBC made the strategic decision to carve out the majority of in-house TV production business into a standalone commercial subsidiary - which would make TV programmes for other broadcasters.
I was approached to take on the role of Finance Lead for the project to build the business case and financial plan, carry it through regulatory approval and influence the process changes, governance, operating model design, technological requirements and then launch and help to implement the new company. Over 2 years I led the way for finance to deliver, as planned, regulatory approval for BBC Studios and doing my part to ensure all the building blocks were place to launch a new commercial subsidiary in April 2017. This drew on all my skills as a professional accountant, my corporate finance experience, a strategic mindset and a being strong people manager in order to lead my team through a complex change and into new ground for the BBC. I managed most of the project remotely from Scotland having moved back to Glasgow temporarily for 18 months - which was a real eye-opener as to what can now be achieved using new technology like Lync and Telepresence.
Now, having successfully launched BBC Studios, my current role is leading the finance department of the Entertainment, Music and Events division of the commercial company. As a member of the divisional management team this includes greenlighting production budgets of many household names, including Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear, A Question of Sport, Dragons Den and many others (more here https://www.bbcstudios.com/teams/entertainment-music-events/). I enjoy my current job, which continues to be very challenging as we move into a commercial subsidiary, where finance is front and centre in the change.
Overall I am very proud to have played an integral part in creating BBC Studios, and would never had the opportunity to do so were it not for my CA qualification. I’m now looking forward to its future success.""
Graeme Morrison CA, 34
Strategy & Corporate Development, RBS, Edinburgh
After a successful career as a professional rugby player representing the Glasgow Warriors a record 176 times and gaining 35 caps for Scotland, including at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, Graeme’s career took a different turn following his retirement from rugby. In 2014, he joined RBS and began training to become a CA, qualifying in March 2017. Graeme has transferred his professional experiences in team management and top-level sport, to several teams at RBS, where he is currently in Corporate Development.
“I was a Professional Rugby Player from 2003 to 2013, representing the Glasgow Warriors a record 176 times and also playing for Scotland on 35 occasions, including at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011. Throughout this time I also captained the Warriors on a number of occasions and was present in the Scotland Team's leadership groups. My career was unfortunately cut short through injury and I was forced to retire prematurely from the sport.
In the lead up to my retirement, I met with several CAs both in the UK and in Hong Kong, who explained that there were many similarities between sport and business; Leadership, Teamwork and decision making under pressure, to name a few. They also gave me insight into their careers, which made it clear that being a CA had given them great opportunities to having successful and fulfilling roles. This was the basis for my decision to pursue a new career as a CA.
I started with ICAS in September 2013 and RBS in January 2014, and was admitted as a member into ICAS in March 2017. I currently work in the Corporate Development team at RBS, having spent my training contract rotating through several of the Finance functions such as; Financial Control, Decision Support and Group Projects.
Having only recently obtained the CA qualification, I have yet to benefit from the support that I am sure it will provide. However, on the journey to get here I have learned so much through both the course materials and having had the opportunity to work in several areas of the bank. In addition, I believe that the discipline, perseverance and work ethic required to progress through the exams will definitely stand me in good stead for the future. The achievement of being admitted as a CA has given me confidence to succeed in a completely different environment to rugby.
My previous career has enabled me to engage with many colleagues at the bank, to share my experiences of how a strong culture in an organisation can lead to success and being a CA has helped me to better demonstrate how skills can be transferred from sport to business”.
Claire Robertson CA, 27
Director, BDO LLP, Glasgow
After graduating with a degree in law from the university of Aberdeen, Claire trained as a CA with Deloitte, within the Enterprise Risk Services team, working on mainly internal audit clients and consultancy engagements. She progressed quickly to Manager before moving to BDO in 2013. She was promoted to Director in 2014, heading up the Scotland Internal Audit function and in this time she has tripled the department headcount and significantly grown sales by 500%.
“At BDO I established a Risk and Advisory Services Practice in Scotland and was quickly promoted to Director. I have developed a team (mainly comprised of fellow CAs) which now advises a broad portfolio of clients on a variety of internal controls, risk and corporate governance matters including clients within the public sector, financial services, and the broader commercial sector. I am really passionate about business development and about making a difference to the clients we advise and providing exceptional client service, and I really enjoy the variety and continuing challenge that growing and developing a strong team and delivering challenging projects entails.
Outside of work, I participate in triathlons and also volunteer to enhance opportunities for others to participate in sport. I also have a young family, who I love to spend time with, preferably being active outdoors.
I was keen to obtain a professional qualification that would equip me well to advise on the challenges faced by a diverse and dynamic client base. The CA qualification helped me not only develop a financial skillset but also sound business acumen, which has served me well in the broader advisory role I undertake. It is a really solid foundation, providing a rounded business education, and is one which our clients recognise and respect. I always advise our new graduates to undertake a CA qualification, because as well as a sound education you receive a qualification that is globally recognised and able to open doors wherever your career might take you.""
Anisha Seth CA, 27
Tax Advisor, EMEIA Financial Services (London), EY, London
Anisha is currently a Tax Advisor at EY in London in Banking after joining the graduate scheme in 2013. As a Law graduate from University College London, she decided to change the ‘natural and obvious’ path to practise Law and in fact was interested in tax accountancy. She is extremely interested in social and community initiatives and has chaired the EY Sikh Network for the last two years, she sits on the steering committee for Vaisakhi in London held by the Mayor of London as a representative of EY, and is involved in a number of social community organisations. She has a passion for gender parity, and has led programmes with academic institutions such as Oxford University exploring violence against South Asian women and also the importance of cultural identity.
“I wanted to achieve something valuable at work, which in my mind was a qualification that can be utilised in many ways. In my case the ICAS qualification provides skills that are wider than Law, and can be utilised in a number of career paths and across multiple industries.
Further I wanted to be part of a large corporation, as I come from a BME background and am the first generation to go to university in my family. I was very motivated to have a career that appeared professional, but also one that would inspire others from my background to achieve. Both being a woman and from a South Asian background you do not see many role models from that background in leadership positions at larger corporations and this is something that I have set out to achieve.
Alongside my career I am extremely interested in social and community initiatives and I have found that working at EY this was definitely encouraged and supported. Whilst being one of the highest performing graduates in Tax in my year, my team have known about the extra-curricular activities that I have been managing in addition to my day job.
I have been key in building lasting relationships to win further work from clients and being asked to return in a more senior role because the client wanted to continue working with me. It was highlighted in my feedback that my people skills again exceeded those of my peers and I am able to build strong relationships within the whole team.
Further, I have been chairing the EY Sikh Network for the past 2 years. The network consist of c3000 people. I am the most junior leader of a Network at EY and the EY Sikh Network is considered one of the most active Network’s at EY. Also I was the first female lead of this Network. In addition, in my role as Chair, I regularly consult with EY's D&I leadership to drive its strategy and initiatives. On numerous occasions I have managed to gain buy-in and support from leadership on a number of initiatives taken by the Network. Therefore I have created lasting relationships with the Leadership team in EY.
I currently sit on the steering committee for Vaisakhi in London held by the Mayor of London as a representative of EY. I have recently worked with the Mayor of London to coordinate cultural events visited by over 20,000 people due to her leadership in the D&I space in EY I have been at the forefront of organising graduate insight days to talk to students from BME backgrounds, to engage with the youth and encourage recruitment in to professional services. This has led to more than 20 students accepting offers to EY from these events.
Further I am an active volunteer with many social community organisations. Firstly I have been a volunteer since it’s commencement with the Jaskomal Foundation, to encourage more South Asians on to the stem cell donor list. I have supported the Pink Ladoo campaign in 2016 which went viral, encouraging South Asian families to celebrate the birth of a girl child equal to that of a son. I also assisted the organisation Happy to Help with their annual donation of Christmas presents to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
I have a passion for gender parity and have used pioneered many gender parity initiatives at EY through the EY Sikh Network and beyond. I have led programmes with academic institutions such as Oxford University exploring violence against South Asian women and also the importance of cultural identity.
I mentor a number of senior male colleagues in EY and client firms around specific gender issues within the South Asian context and community which is hugely beneficial for men to understand issues faced by BME women and to subsequently champion some of these causes.
I was also asked to be part of the EY careers campaign for gender parity, again the most junior person asked. It was actually my campaign question/comment that became one of EY Careers most engaged tweets in FY16. For my commitment to EY’s values I was nominated for an EMEIA wide internal award ‘Better Begins with you’ and I was the only individual shortlisted (out of 4) in the Communities category alongside extremely well known firm wide charities and initiatives. I received a lot of recognition within the EY leadership for this.
Additionally I received an award for International Women’s Day from EY leadership for Future Leader, for my commitment to the field of accounting and the wider community. These are the true values of being a CA.”
Leanne Sweet CA, 27
Financial Controlling Manager, Danone, Trowbridge
Leanne decided to follow a career in Finance from an early age, and alongside her a degree in accounting and finance at the University of Bath, she volunteered to teach English in China to students in poor economic areas and assisting at an after-school club for primary school children who struggled with mathematics. She trained to become a CA with EY in Bristol, and then moved to Imperial Brands as a Group Audit Manager. In her current role as Financial Controlling Manager at Danone, she is responsible for the financial reporting for three business units and overseeing another two business units.
“I studied Accounting & Finance at University of Bath, where I received the First Year Undergraduate of the Year award for my academic achievements alongside my volunteering. I volunteered to teach English in China to students in poor economic areas and spent two years assisting at an after-school club for primary school children who struggled with mathematics.
In 2011 I started at EY in the audit department where I was responsible for the key clients in the Bristol office including EE and Western Power Distribution. I also volunteered to manage graduate and school leaver recruitment for the South West, helping students to develop a passion for a career in Finance and give them guidance on interviews and completing applications.
On the day I qualified as a CA, I joined Imperial Brands as a Group Audit Manager and was the youngest member of the audit team. My role involved travelling to various countries to perform an internal audit and oversee a team of two/three individuals. The review included the traditional elements of an audit; however I also added value to Senior Management through providing recommendation to address individual risks and influencing Management to implement changes. I was particularly involved in audits where there was a high risk of fraud (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Dominican Republic). This involved providing recommendations in a difficult environment where traditional methods would not be effective. It resulted in a strengthening of the control environment in these locations and reduction in the fraud experienced. I coached my team members on the necessary audit and soft skills, particularly around communicating in different countries.
I led several key projects to re-invent the Audit function, including meeting with the CFO and CEO to discuss finance’s role in the wider organisation.
Prior to leaving Imperial Brand, I managed a project to create a formal control framework across all functions, as this did not exist. I led several key audits for the Group, including a review of their start up in Tokyo, providing recommendations to improve sales.
In 2016, I joined Danone, a business with strong ethics, as a Financial Controlling Manager. My key responsibilities include leading the financial reporting for the Dairies UK&I business units. In addition I oversee the reporting for the Waters business unit. In the short term I am also responsible for the Baby UK&I divisions, therefore managing £800m turnover and 75% of the sales entities for Danone in UK&I.
I am also the youngest member of the finance team at a senior management grade. The finance team in Danone has recently undergone a restructure and therefore I am responsible for leading several key projects across all departments to establish new ways of working. I oversee the wider finance teams, ensuring they have the necessary knowledge and understand the wider finance agenda. I undertake key decisions on the financial reporting and coach a direct report.
The CA qualification has supported me to follow my passion for a career in Finance. It provided me with the necessary knowledge to complete my roles and allowed me to coach other team members. It has given me access to workshops and seminars to keep my knowledge up to date and meet other finance professionals to develop a strong network. I have been able to follow other CA professional’s stories, which have inspired me on the career path I would like to follow and how to achieve this”.
John Waterson CA, 34
Director, KPMG LLP, Glasgow
John qualified as a CA with ICAS in 2007, having started with KPMG in Glasgow in 2004. Prior to this, he qualified with an Honours degree in accountancy at 20, and subsequently took a year out to teach English as a foreign language in China. Whilst working with KPMG he has completed international secondments in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Bank of South Pacific. He is currently a Director in the Financial Services Practice.
“Over twelve and a half years later, I am still with KPMG, having travelled and worked in many different roles and three different international secondments. Throughout my entire career I have strived to lead, mentor and act as role model.
In my current role as a Director in the Financial Services Practice at KPMG in Scotland, I lead and sign the audit opinions of a number of clients, from a FTSE 100 listed entity through to smaller private equity vehicles, and many others in between! I have a unique position to empower, develop and challenge the next generation of ICAS graduates, and I take this very seriously.
Having graduated in 2007 following three years in Financial Services Audit in Scotland, I undertook my first international secondment to Brisbane for six months.
This was followed in 2010 with a long term, three-year secondment to Melbourne. My time in Australia also included a spell on secondment to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea to the Bank of South Pacific a memorable experience over 12 weeks!
Across all my international secondments, with the different people, reporting frameworks, client cultures and operating styles, I loved the task of overcoming new challenges and building my experience. This varied from mentoring local staff in Port Moresby to writing accounting advice for various clients in Melbourne.
Working overseas, being promoted and receiving excellent feedback from the leadership of the KPMG Australian firm informed my desire to come back to the UK and work in a leadership / people oriented role. On return from international secondment in 2013, I have worked across a number of different service lines in both Internal and External Audit, as well as serving (2013/14) as people leader, leading a diverse team of 40 staff on all operational, people & talent, compliance and finance matters. Open, honest communication has always been a key part of this.
In my current role, I also mentor both client and KPMG management in a variety of topics from business development and technical accounting to general career advice.
With respect to training, coaching and the development of talent within the firm, I have written and delivered a variety of bespoke training and presented at numerous seminars. For example, I co-wrote and delivered training to clients and internal management nationally to help bridge a skills gap with respect to the quality of report writing. This received excellent feedback and is being run on an annual basis with me remaining as course director. Financial Services talent event I planned and delivered a flagship talent event for FS Audit UK (80-100 people), noting the importance that such talent events have had on my career as a nominated emerging leader at KPMG.
Simply put, there is no way I would have the career and success I have thus far enjoyed without my CA qualification. The CA qualification has empowered me with the confidence, knowledge and technical ability to grasp and exploit many opportunities all over the world. It has led me to an extensive network of contacts globally which I can leverage when required.
The network I have established has been a significant foundation in my career success. I am now well established in the FS industry in Scotland. A large part of this has been through building relationships that last with ICAS members e.g. Lord Smith of Kelvin at the UK Green Investment Bank plc, where I spent a year on secondment.
I also sit on the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) Corporate and Financial Reporting Panel which provides access to senior figures in Scottish business and also affords real insights to clients. For example ICAS’ interpretation on Fair, Balanced and Understandable and the evolution of corporate reporting.
The CA qualification has also afforded many business development activities, as a result of dramatically increased audit tendering. This has allowed me to mentor and coach many of our junior staff in a commercial manner, separate to the day to day world of audit delivery. My involvement in significant business development successes e.g. Standard Life external audit, various listed investment trusts is once again founded in the basic values and principles I learned in acquiring my CA”
Innovation & Technology
Mark Anderson CA, 32
UK Operations Analyst, ConocoPhillips, Aberdeen
Mark qualified in 2011 with PwC in Edinburgh. At PwC he worked for two years in the Assurance department, focussing on Financial Services clients, and two years as part of the Deals time, specifically Business Recovery Services. He joined ConocoPhillips in 2013 and has been in his current role as the UK Operations Analyst since 2016. At the start of this year, Mark initiated and led a new cost management initiative to improve visibility and accountability within Cost Management to eliminate waste and optimise costs.
“I qualified in 2011 with PwC in Edinburgh. At PwC I worked for two years in the Assurance department, focussing on Financial Services clients, and two years as part of the Deals time, specifically Business Recovery Services.
I left PwC as a Senior Associate to join Accenture on their Talisman-Sinopec (now Repsol-Sinopec) contract in Aberdeen at the end of 2012. I worked firstly as a Joint Venture Accounting Supervisor and then as a Business Analyst before leaving to join ConocoPhillips at the end of 2013.
The oil and gas industry has always appealed to me due to the global career opportunities, the complexity of the production process and the global reliance on the industry.
My roles at ConocoPhillips have been Joint Venture Accountant, Joint Venture and Business Analysis Supervisor and UK Operations Analyst. I started my role as the UK Operations Analyst in September 2016. This was a new role whose purpose was to provide more support and leverage existing finance resources to our Operations department to ensure that costs were optimized. The role has developed as I'm now also heavily focused on continuous development, specifically with Cost Management and the supporting IT tools.
The CA qualification has given me the opportunity to work in a variety of interesting and challenging roles. The CA qualification has provided me with the confidence to challenge the status quo and to think about the big picture when presenting management information or business discussions”
James Hamilton CA, 32
Senior Manager, Ernst & Young LLP, Glasgow
James graduated from Glasgow University in 2006 with an accountancy degree and then joined the Baker Tilly ICAS graduate scheme in 2006 as an auditor in Glasgow. After qualifying as a CA, in 2009 he joined EY and progressed to his current role as senior manager, where he is becoming a clear leader locally in the innovation of audit. Using passion and enthusiasm, James is transforming the audit approach from the traditional approach to one powered by analytics
“During my time at Baker Tilly I had a three-month secondment at BAA as reporting accountant. I qualified as a CA in 2009 before joining EY in November 2009 as audit senior in Glasgow. I progressed to assistant manager with EY in October 2011, promoted to manager in October 2012, and then promoted to current role of senior manager in October 2015. During this time, I've been exposed to a wide variety of interesting and challenging clients, travelled extensively within the UK, worked with colleagues across the Globe and trained our audit seniors from across EMEIA.
My current role involves managing client portfolio, leading the regions implementation of analytical audit techniques and new platforms, leading the strive for audit quality and the audit team’s representative on the cross service private middle markets board.
Initially, I stayed in audit after qualifying as a CA to buy more thinking time for my longer-term goals. Now I realise I've stayed within practice and audit because I find the variety of work, wide range of challenging technical matters and interaction with people highly rewarding. You get great access to business leaders in large corporates to entrepreneurs of SME's. The visibility of the career path in a professional services firm particularly in audit is also very appealing.
Undoubtedly the CA qualification has given me the foundation to build my career and provided me with a solid foundation to succeed as an auditor. It's helped build up my commercial acumen which I've been able to apply in the day job as an auditor. The grounding I have as a CA certainly helps when it comes to embedding new techniques and approaches in audit”.
Aneela Mather-Khan CA, 28
Financial Analyst, A.M. Best, London
Aneela began studying towards her CA qualification at EY in 2010, where she worked for 2.5 years. She went on to complete her CA at Marsh and McLennan as an internal auditor and graduated in March 2014. Since then, she has worked as a Financial Analyst at A.M. Best and a manager at Deloitte. Whilst at Deloitte, Aneela identified a gap in the market for the provision of ratings advisory services.
“I decided to branch away from Audit and pursue a role that would allow me to gain more of a strategic view of insurance companies. I worked as a financial analyst, rating insurance companies in the middle-east at A.M. Best for 18 months before moving to Deloitte to work in Insurance Regulation and Strategy. Whilst working there I helped develop a new service line and was actively involved in charity initiatives.
I returned to A.M. Best in February as I realised my interest lay in ratings and I wanted to further develop my analytical skills and knowledge.
I believe I should be on the CAs under 35 list as I have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and spearheaded the creation of a new service offering for my previous employer.
Whilst working at Deloitte, I identified a gap in the market for the provision of ratings advisory services, which would help companies looking to achieve a credit rating or undergoing a strategic change in direction assess both what rating outcome they would likely receive and prepare for the process. I also identified this as an opportunity to encourage greater cross-border and cross-service line partnership.
The Partner in charge of my department saw the merit in my idea, as it was both an innovative proposition for the firm and a potential revenue stream. I demonstrated that there was a market for the service through independent research and discussions with both clients and colleagues across the firm. I designed a work stream for the service bringing together Audit, Tax, Consulting and Corporate Finance. During this process, I developed a strong network across the firm with senior Partners and Directors and had the opportunity to speak at two international conferences. I was praised by senior members of the firm for independently pursuing the idea and for the innovation.
Being part of the ICAS network and listening to the achievements of other young CAs gave me the confidence to pursue my ideas. I used my CA training to create a business case and plan. My CA gave me credibility when speaking to clients and gave me the skills and knowledge needed to scrutinise their financial performance and business strategy. Importantly, it gave me the confidence to build a team around me, training junior staff on how to perform financial analysis.
I have also used my CA outside of work to help an entrepreneurial social enterprise to grow over the past year.
I hope to one-day start my own business and my experience has provided me with the confidence that I have the skills to achieve that dream. To get closer to realising this dream I made the tough decision to leave Deloitte to work as a financial analyst at A.M. Best recognising the need for me to gain more experience in a field I have a passion for.
Achieving my CA was an arduous process but I am proud of my achievements and it has proved invaluable in my career progression. My experience led me to mentor other young professionals that have failed their exams and provide them with the encouragement and motivation not to give up.
My CA has provided me with the skills needed to understand business. It has also provided me with greater confidence. I believe my CA gives me access to an amazing network of individuals and opens numerous doors”.
Colin McLellan, 34
CFO, Skyscanner, Edinburgh
Colin graduated with a degree in accountancy from Strathclyde university and qualified as a CA and tax advisor with KPMG in 2008. Since then, Colin has worked at Scottish Power and Worldmark, before joining Skyscanner in 2013 as group financial controller. He’s recently been promoted to chief financial officer
""I qualified as a CA and tax advisor with KPMG in 2008 and after being there four years left to work with Scottish Power as their IAS39 hedge accountant. I then moved to the role of group accountant at Worldmark, a global material science and manufacturing business in the electronics sector where I learned a great deal about managing cashflows and margins.
In 2013 I joined Skyscanner as Group Financial Controller at that stage the business had around 150 people and 3 offices.
In H2’15 I took up the post of interim CEO of Skycanner’s Japan joint venture with Yahoo! Japan which involved relocating to Tokyo. On returning to the UK in H1’16 I was promoted to Finance Director.
The three most important aspects of my development and impact in the last year have been:
1) I played a key role in the acquisition of Skyscanner by Ctrip in H2’16.
2) leading the team through Squadification of our Finance Tribe, and
3) actively participating in the strategic CxO level discussions about the evolution of our products
I have recently been promoted to the role of CFO. Skyscanner now has around 900 employees and 11 offices globally and in 2016 is estimated to have facilitated over $16bn in total transaction value”.
Iain McMichael CA, 31
Senior Manager Data Analytics, PwC, London
Iain completed a degree in physics and started with PwC eight years ago. His current role is as a Senior Manager within the Global Transformation team where he is in charge of automating Journals transformation toolkits. Previous roles include (and still do) leading the Halo for Funds platform and before that he worked in Scotland from SA1 through to Manager at the inception of the analytics team. In Scotland, he grew the number of clients who used analytics from three up to 103 clients.
“I have been at the forefront of transforming PwC's auditing approach, using the core skills that my CA has given me, and combining this with my programming skills to develop new tools and technology to deliver audits. PwC is the world's largest professional services firm, and it's so satisfying to see the firm step up and invest in technology and be brave in leading the market.
Having delivered several technologies locally within the Scottish practice, I was seconded into our global transformation team where I was put in charge of delivering our Halo for Funds analytics solution. This market leading visualisation technology has allowed us to create efficiencies in our delivery, thus improving quality, as we are able to look at full populations rather than sampling, and to give our staff a richer experience: so they can now focus on advising clients and adding value to our clients teams as opposed to spending time inputting and processing data. Candidly, it’s what our clients expect from us and is where our audit practice is moving as a whole.
PwC is the market leader in the funds industry in the U.K. and the Halo technology developed is now being used on 80% of our U.K. fund clients. In addition to the success in the U.K. - the tool has been used to win large European audit proposals and we are working with several partner firms in the EU and our Australian practice to embed the process within those territories.
Leading the team in launching this to the UK firm was challenging. The skills and business knowledge acquired during my CA were invaluable in this process. My qualification offered me both immediate credibility when discussing matters with engagement teams and it has enabled me to consider decisions from a balanced position; addressing issues from a regulatory, auditing, management, process and technical perspective. Without my CA, I know I would lack much of the insight required to flex myself between these, often competing, technical and business roles.
My next challenge has been to drive efficiencies in our global application ‘Halo for Journals’. This has involved managing a global team to automate the delivery of our flagship analytics platform. Halo for Journals has seen rapid global adoption, now being used in over 30 countries and with circa 144,000 global users. However, this has placed a heavy burden on our data analysts and delivery centres to review the huge quantities of data. By automating a new end to end solution and removing the need for human intervention, we have shown we can reduce costs by a factor of ten, allowing for us to complete the rollout to our remaining member firms.
Completing my CA was one of the proudest achievements of my life. It gave me fundamental skills which I continue to build upon. It has, and will continue to be, the foundation upon which I grow my role and my brand in my career”.
Mark Smith CA, 32
Director, KPMG, London
Mark joined KPMG in 2007 and, after completing the CA and CTA on the Tax Graduate programme, he moved into software development. He has launched many successful accounting technology products, which are used by hundreds of clients in the UK and globally. Mark has also set up technology teams for KPMG in South Africa and Australia.
“During my training contract, I was surprised at the level of manual intervention required by clients and advisors and curious how technology could be used to resolve process issues. I started by developing financial models to replace the manual data manipulation in the tax compliance process. After I qualified, I transferred to KPMG’s Business Technology team so that I could focus full time on working with developers to create and implement technology solutions. These solutions have grown from ideas into products that support numerous clients.
I also set up accounting technology teams in Australia and South Africa that build and implement technology solutions to resolve client issues in their markets. These secondments have broadened my experience and mind-set.
My experience at KPMG has given me the opportunity to become a business leader in technology and innovation. I now jointly lead all aspects of the team including strategy, budget and finances, product development, technical accounting, sales and implementation.
The CA qualification has had both a direct and indirect impact on my career. Directly, the qualification has given me the skills to recognise accounting issues and then input directly into building and implementing solutions. Indirectly, the qualification is much more than learning technical accounting; it has also provided me with a commercial foundation to deal with wider business issues, for example, assessing competing investment opportunities”.
2016 ICAS 35 CAs under 35
Kieran D’Silva CA, 29
Co-Founder & CFO, PrimaryBid Limited, London
Kieran qualified as a CA with EY in London within the Audit, Banking and Capital Markets team. He then worked as an Investment Banker in Mergers and Acquisitions at Citi within the Financial Institutions Group before joining the Alternative Investment Manager, Darwin Strategic Limited (“Darwin”) as an Associate in 2013. Within the first year, Kieran was promoted to Chief Financial Officer aged just 26. Kieran is co-founder and CFO of PrimaryBid.com, the world’s first crowdfunding platform for AIM listed companies. Kieran is a member of the Venture Partnership Foundation (VPF) which provides a combination of financial support and professional expertise to social enterprises and is an Advisory Board Member of Footprints Life Camp (Footprints).
""Having set-up a couple of businesses during university, I knew that was the direction I wanted my career to take after graduation.""
Kevin Harvie CA, 30
Founder, Hectares Food Limited, Glasgow
After studying Law at university, Kevin trained to become a CA with Grant Thornton in Glasgow, initially in their Audit practice before moving to Corporate Finance. He worked with a range of businesses providing advisory and due diligence services and built up a real interest in the Food and Drink sector. In 2013 Kevin left his job at Grant Thornton to launch his own snack company called Hectares. Since launching, the company have sold over half a million packets of sweet potato crisps and secured a number of high profile clients.
""Whilst working at Grant Thornton I had been looking for an idea to start my own business and I spotted the growth in demand for sweet potatoes.""
Jennifer Hatfield CA, 32
Chartered Accountant, Hummingbird Accountancy Services Ltd, Leeds
Jennifer started out in Accountancy in 2006 where she joined KPMG’s Tax and Accounting Graduate programme where she gained her CA and CTA qualification. Jennifer gained experience working in Tax compliance and Advisory services, and also had an 18-month secondment into the Public Sector to work on an Energy infrastructure project. Since then, Jennifer has worked in Commercial Finance with Asda and then with a not-for-profit agency delivering NHS services. 18 months ago, Jennifer set up Hummingbird Chartered Accountants, which has a focus on supporting small businesses to know their numbers through using Digital Technology.
“I am young, I'm a CA and I am a Digital Entrepreneur. I believe that online, cloud accounting and flexible mobile apps are the future of numbers.""
James Roy Poulter CA, 28
CEO, Pronto, London
James had an interest in science in school and after graduating from university, joined the graduate scheme at EY. During his three years at EY, James worked in multiple service lines and secondments in New York. He won the highest internal commendation EY from the graduate scheme, being the only one in an intake of 1,000 graduates. James is the founder and CEO of Pronto, an online food ordering start-up which is building the food infrastructure of the future, replacing kitchens and supermarkets.
""I have spent my recent professional life working in technology startups - but Pronto is so much deeper, so much more important than just another app on the iStore.""
Brian Toward CA, 30
IT & Finance Director, Wholesale Domestic, Glasgow
Brian trained as a CA with Deloitte and was part of the technology risk team, working on extremely high profile clients, delivering a mixture of audit support and consultancy based engagements. After rising to the rank of manager, Brian decided to transfer his skills to his family’s 50-year-old bathroom retail company, Wholesale Domestic.
""Within three months of joining I took the business online and we now retail 24 hours a day throughout the UK.""
Mark Spiers CA, 32
CFO, Trocafone, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Mark’s current role is CFO and Partner of Trocafone based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Trocafone is one of Latin America's fastest growing technology start-ups, currently in its second year with annual revenue of USD 40million, operating in Brazil and Argentina, and due to launch in Colombia, Chile and Peru. Prior to this Mark was at Deutsche Bank for four years, most recently as Vice President of Latin America Finance and moved to Brazil during his second year at Deutsche Bank to lead a major transformation of local accounting teams and processes.
""I very quickly realized the importance of having efficient business processes and strong IT systems to support finance and the business.""
Joel Watt CA, 28
Founder, Jack Taylor/VISTEM, Aberdeen
Joel has demonstrated his entrepreneurial flair using the skills he developed during his CA training and applying it to starting his own businesses. At the age of 24, Joel and his business partner set up Jack Taylor, a fish trading company that looks to introduce the UK and Europe to Scotland’s world class cuisine. Within the first three years Jack Taylor broke into new markets in England, Ireland, Wales and France and is currently trading at turnover of £5 million per annum and supports 25 staff in full time employment. In 2014 Joel set up a second start up, VISTEM Limited (Visionary Systems).
""It is my ability to spot and understand opportunity that has been key to my success to date.""
John Wilmot CA, 32
CEO, Nameloop, Glasgow
John trained to become a CA with Wylie & Bisset in Glasgow and once qualified, he moved to Brewin Dolphin to work in their investment banking team on M&A deals and IPOs. In 2009 John started a new digital marketing agency which grew quickly before being sold in 2011. John has recently invested his passion and talents into a new venture; Nameloop, an app which allows people to share contact details and personal information.
""The most important thing for me is being true to myself and the strong ethical stance that comes with being a CA.""
Edward Brewerton CA, 31
Manager, Financial and Marketing Accounting, Apache Canada Ltd, Calgary
Edward trained to become a CA at EY in Nottingham in the transaction support group. Once qualified, Edward transferred to EY in Calgary, Alberta and gained industry-specific knowledge of the oil and gas industry. He then transferred to work with Imperial Oil Limited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil as Senior Accounting Policy Advisor. Edward joined Apache Canada Ltd in late 2014 on a contract term as a Supervisor of Financial Reporting. Six months later he was promoted to Manager of Financial and Corporation and is currently the youngest Manager within the finance department.
""Quite simply the CA designation is the primary reason I have been able to start my new life in Canada. Upon obtaining the designation, the transfer to EY Canada was almost automatic.""
Ben Collins CA, 31
Associate Director, EY, Birmingham
Ben joined the EY graduate programme eight years ago after completing a degree in Mathematics and Management studies at Nottingham University. He is currently an Associate Director in EY’s Transaction Advisory Services team in Birmingham. A consistent top performer and EY rising star, Ben has worked across the Audit, Insolvency and Transaction teams as well as seconding to Cape Town. Ben mentors new graduates, leads training sessions and business host for EY’s Smart Futures programme. Outside of work, Ben is a trustee for two charities.
""A key driver for me becoming a CA was the ability to stand alongside directors as they carry out what is often the most significant change in their business that they have had to handle.""
Stuart MacDougall CA, 32
Assurance Director, PwC, London
Stuart’s passion and agility in developing the business led to him being identified as one of PwC’s Emerging Leaders and he graduated from the Emerging Leaders programme in 2014. A combination of his industry knowledge and leadership resulted in Stuart moving to London to bring a fresh perspective to some of PwC’s largest accounts and use his business development skills to help drive audit tenders.
Having suffered as a child with kidney and liver failure, Stuart developed a passion for health, fitness and wellbeing, which he uses to raise money for good causes. Stuart is a keen runner and recently ran the London Marathon.
“My CA qualification has been instrumental in all that I have achieved to date. This was especially the case when working overseas; such is the reputation being a CA brings.""
Scott Dunbar CA, 32
Business Advisory Director, Johnston Carmichael, Elgin
Scott joined Johnston Carmichael in 2008, having previously completed both AAT and CA training. Scott’s route to the CA qualification differed from the traditional graduate route and gave Scott six years of hands on, practical working experience up to the date of qualifying. Scott joined Johnston Carmichael as a qualified assistant to the Finance Director, progressing to Financial Controller in 2011. During this time Scott worked alongside the Executive Team on strategic planning and development, assisting and providing input to the commercial aspects of acquisitions together with leading a finance team of 13. Scott’s progress and potential in the business has recently earned him a promotion to Director at the age of 32. Scott is also involved with a local community company, Forres Events Limited, providing full and comprehensive finance support to the Board of Directors.
""There are many different avenues that you can take in business and I believe that the CA qualification has given me access to opportunities I may not otherwise have had.""
Colin McLellan CA, 33
Finance Director, Skyscanner, Edinburgh
Colin qualified as a CA and tax advisor with KPMG in 2008 and after being there four years left to work with Scottish Power as their IAS39 hedge accountant. Colin then moved to the role of group accountant at Worldmark, a global material science and manufacturing business in the electronics sector. In 2013 Colin joined Skyscanner as Group Financial Controller and has recently been promoted to Financial Director. Earlier this year Colin took up the post of interim CEO of Skycanner’s Japan joint venture with Yahoo! Japan and developed a team in Tokyo to improve the product and drive growth.
""Fundamentally, the CA qualification has given me a very clear sense of what robust and ethical business decisions look like and the importance of making such decisions.""
Claire Monaghan CA, 33
Partner, RSM, Edinburgh
Claire trained as a CA with RSM UK Audit LLP, formerly Baker Tilly UK Audit LLP, joining the firm as an audit graduate. After qualifying, she progressed through the ranks to Manager and Senior Manager before gaining RI status in 2015 and becoming partner in 2016. Claire is responsible for a large proportion of RSM’s corporate audit portfolio in Edinburgh and is actively involved in staff management in the local and wider Scottish teams. Claire is passionate about empowering her team to develop key skills to support their career ambitions.
""Over the years it became apparent that a career in this area was much more than just debits and credits and offers the opportunity to get involved with a variety of businesses. No day is ever the same.""
Katherine Ritchie CA, 27
Executive, EY, London
After graduating with an economics and geography degree from the University of Sheffield, Katherine took a gap year travelling to India and Australia. On return, she joined EY on the Transaction (TAS) graduate programme and has since spent over three years in Operational Transaction Services (OTS). During her time at EY, Katherine has participated in the EY secondment programme, spending time working in the EY Dubai OTS practice. Katherine is actively involved in the Sheffield campus team, meeting future candidates as well as mentoring students.
""The opportunity to work internationally offered new and rewarding perspectives and experiences. It also helped address my self-development and broader career ambitions within EY.""
Rory Shedden CA, 33
Director, Solution Development, Radius, Bristol
After completing a BA in German and History in 2005, Rory briefly worked in London before moving to Bristol in 2006 to join EY in their Audit practice. He qualified in 2009 and remained at EY Bristol until February 2011, during which time he was promoted to Assistant Manager and enjoyed several months on secondment to Lloyds Banking Group. Rory spent time in EY’s Munich office with project time in Asia, North and South America and across Europe. Rory then moved to Radius, a consultancy which supports companies as they expand internationally. In 2015 Rory temporarily relocated to Mumbai to run Radius’ India office. Rory will be shortly relocating to the USA.
""The depth and breadth of the CA has given me the confidence and self-belief to be able to move between service lines, countries and organisations and to thrive in all of these different environments.""
Stephen Smith CA, 31
Chief Financial Officer, Suzo Happ, Melbourne, Australia
Stephen studied Economics and Finance at the University of Manchester and at the end of his second year successfully completed a short term secondment to EY. After graduating Stephen joined EY Southampton, and worked hard to be considered for major projects and secondment opportunities. During his career in EY, Stephen undertook secondments to Delhi for nine months and Melbourne for two years. In 2013, Stephen joined SuzoHapp, owned by private equity company ACON Investments, as CFO at age 28.
""The CA qualification gave me the skill-set to succeed at EY. I was able to take what I had learnt in class and apply it to real life scenarios.""
Graham Stirling CA, 29
Audit Manager, Grant Thornton Singapore
Graham trained with Grant Thornton in their Glasgow office and qualified as a CA in 2013. He left Scotland to undertake a secondment with their Singapore member firm, Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton, before playing a major role in setting up the new Singapore member firm, Grant Thornton Singapore, in 2015. As a highly regarded manager in Grant Thornton’s global audit fraternity, Graham has maintained his position as a high performer and is really making a name for himself across the 138 member firms. Graham plays an active role in the firm’s mentoring scheme and has designed and led the firm’s graduate recruitment scheme which has resulted in a high number of quality applications and subsequent hires from each of the major universities in Singapore.
""The CA qualification has been like having a second passport; it is an internationally renowned and respected qualification which has helped me reach my career ambition of working abroad.""
Sustainability & CSR category
Jenny Chu CA, 25
Consultant, Deloitte, London
Jenny is a consultant with a solid foundation in finance, accounting and a passion to progress sustainability and corporate social reporting within the professional industry. After graduating with a degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Glasgow, Jenny joined the Deloitte graduate programme in audit and qualified as a CA in 2014. During her training contract, Jenny sought out opportunity to contribute to Deloitte’s sustainability and community investment programmes. Jenny was joint winner in the 2013 ICAS Sustainability Essay competition and is currently a member of the ICAS Sustainability Committee.
""I now work on finance transformation programmes as well as process efficiency and cost reduction projects.""
George Cobb CA, 34
Group Sustainable Accountant, Scottish and Southern Energy, Perth
Dr George Cobb is the Group Sustainability Accountant at SSE Plc, a FTSE 350 company based in Perth. He currently also holds the positions of Chair of the ICAS Sustainability Committee and Vice Chair of HRH’s Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) CFO Network Capex project. George believes passionately in what he is doing and actively seeks to share his views, work and understanding of the developing sustainability field. In 2015 George won the Finance leader of the future award in the Finance for the Future Awards.
""Being a CA has provided me the reputation and professionalism to be an authority of knowledge and truth.""
Andrew Dane CA, 32
Financial Director, Argent Energy, Edinburgh
Andrew qualified as a CA with KPMG on their advisory (Transaction Services) graduate programme. During his eight years working in Transaction Services, Andrew worked on over a hundred transactions, and worked for periods in London, Edinburgh and Toronto. He left KPMG in 2014 and joined Argent Energy, one of the UK’s leading green and sustainable businesses in the energy sector, producing biodiesel from waste fats and oils. As Finance Director, Andrew is involved in strategically growing the business’ financials, and to identify and ensure operational efficiencies for large scale contracts that Argent has won.
“This was always a business that I loved to be involved with as it has a fantastic mix of entrepreneurial attitude and outstanding green credentials.""
Jamie Davidson CA, 34
Associate Director, Johnston Carmichael, Edinburgh
Jamie Davidson is an Associate Director with Chartered Accountants, Johnston Carmichael and has a long history of involvement in CSR and Sustainability activities. As Deputy Convener of the ICAS Sustainability Committee, in 2014, Jamie received a National Award from his then employer, Baker Tilly, for his fundraising efforts.
""I took the opportunity to work in renewable energy after visiting Canada in 1992 and being impressed at how advanced their recycling was in comparison to the UK.""
Rachel Singh Davies CA, 33
Chief Financial Officer, Shell Foundation, London
Rachel joined Shell in 2009 and demonstrated her passion for CSR through her pro-bono work for Shell Foundation (SF). In 2014, Rachel moved permanently to Shell Foundation, an independent charity, as a Social Business Manager and became Chief Financial Officer the following year. Rachel is committed to building an efficient and forward thinking social finance function. Rachel is a trustee of the charity UCanDoIT.
""I chose to forgo promotion in the corporate business and moved permanently to SF as a Social Business Manager.""
Heather Donald CA, 33
Sustainability Manager, Heathrow Airport Ltd, London
Heather is Sustainability Manager at Heathrow Airport Ltd where she is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Heathrow’s sustainability communications and engagement strategy. Heather is also member of the ICAS Sustainability Committee and Lead Alumni on the University of Liverpool’s Social Enterprise and Impact Professional Interest Network.
""Being a CA has opened doors for me and I am hugely proud to be part of the ICAS family through my role on the sustainability committee.""
Thomas Gillan CA, 30
Chief Financial Officer, Social Investment Scotland, Edinburgh
Thomas qualified as a CA in 2011 following training largely completed in audit and corporate finance in Edinburgh. In 2012 he joined Social Investment Scotland (SIS), a social finance intermediary investing in high impact businesses which have a social mission at the heart of the organisation. Thomas’ role allows him to be entrepreneurial and he recently founded SIS Community Capital; the UK's first mass participation social investment fund backed by social investment tax relief.
""I'm totally motivated by the concept of using profit to achieve purpose and connecting organisations with investors to support growth and social impact.""
Oliva Ng CA, 31
Acting Area Financial Controller, Africa and Developing Countries, GSK, London
While working at PwC in London, Olivia undertook a secondment in Mongolia to develop a new office, which grew from a headcount of 30 to 80 within 18 months. This opportunity provided Olivia first-hand experience the positive impact a private corporation can have on the economy and the importance of embedding shared value and sustainability as part of day-to-day business. Olivia has recently returned from a six week volunteering trip to Ghana, working with a social enterprise making and selling bamboo bikes.
""When I qualified as a CA, I never thought one day I would be developing a new office in Mongolia.""
Elizabeth Young CA, 31
Internal Audit Senior Manager, Scott-Moncrieff
In her role in Scott-Moncrieff, Elizabeth works with charity and public sector bodies and her current portfolio focuses mainly on education and on central government. Outside of work, Elizabeth co-founded a group that are working towards establishment of a community run hotel, a project which brings together community activists and local business people to try and regenerate her local town, providing jobs, preserving a listed building and providing amenities and community facilities. Elizabeth is a founding independent trustee of East Ayrshire Leisure Trust and despite being the youngest board member, at the age of 29 was chosen to become the senior independent trustee and vice-chair of the trust. In 2015 she was named in Charity Finance Magazine’s ‘top 25 under 35’ list. Elizabeth is also an ICAS Foundation mentor.
""When I began my CA training at PKF, the first clients that I worked with were in the charity and public sectors.""
Influence & Innovation category
Heather Abel CA, 29
Tax Adviser, Shell Canada, Calgary, Canada
Heather trained to become a CA with EY in the Tax Compliance & Advisory Financial Services team in Edinburgh, and then transferred to EY’s International Tax Services team in London. After 5 years with EY, Heather joined Shell as a Tax Advisor in the Holdings & Treasury Tax Team based in London. Heather is currently on a one-year assignment in Shell Canada’s Tax Audits & Litigation team, based in Calgary. During this assignment, Heather has significantly contributed to a project aiming to incorporate Shell Canada into Shell's vision of its offshore tax operation becoming a centre of tax expertise for filing and reporting, and also supporting Shell's dispute resolution work.
""The CA qualification has allowed me to build on the solid grounding of knowledge in tax and accountancy...and expand my expertise in international tax.""
Rimla Akhtar MBE CA, 33
Inclusion & Diversity Consultant, RimJhim Consulting, London
Rimla’s exponential rise in position and authority within the sports industry is unparalleled for a woman of her background, demonstrating her tenacity, integrity and commitment to always working with her core values. She is an inspiration to both men and women who can see now, through her achievements, that it could be possible for them as well. As an extremely respected individual within the sports industry, Rimla’s knowledge and experience working with various communities is well sought after.
""I actively use my experience and pride of being a CA to create real sustainable change for our world. I’ve worked as far afield as the US, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and across Europe.""
Patrick Brown CA, 29
Senior Management Accountant, Department for International Development, Glasgow
Patrick started his career in accountancy when he was 17 when he took a part time job with a budding entrepreneur as his bookkeeper in the summer before starting University. After graduating with an accountancy degree, Patrick completed his CA training with Robb Ferguson in Glasgow. In December 2013 he took up the role of Financial Accountant at the Department for International Development (DFID), an organisation which reflects Patrick’s ethical stance on helping those in need. In 2014, he was promoted to Senior Management Accountant, with the role of leading in-year financial management of a £10bn budget.
“Being a CA has given me experiences that I would never have achieved without the qualification. Most importantly, I have a job that I love, that makes me feel fulfilled and makes me happy.""
Pete Ferguson CA, 32
Senior Compliance Manager, Green Investment Bank Plc, Edinburgh/London
Pete is the Senior Compliance Manager at the UK Green Investment Bank plc, the world’s first green investment bank, a role he has held since November 2015 following a six-month secondment from PwC. In his role he focuses on driving change and improvements in processes across the bank and streamlining procedures to achieve efficiencies in the compliance framework. Pete volunteers support to the Edinburgh Limb Loss Association, a local not-for-profit organisation, examining their annual accounts and assisting with their application to obtain charitable trust status to secure future funding and continue providing essential rehabilitation opportunities to the local community.
""Had I not started on the CA path I doubt I would be in the position I am today in my career, or had the opportunity outside of work to share my knowledge and skills to support others.""
Gillian Hunter CA, 28
Tax Manager, Johnston Carmichael, Aberdeen
Gillian graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2011 with a first class degree in accountancy and then trained to become a CA with Johnston Carmichael working in the corporate tax department. Gillian continued to work with the firm after qualifying and in her current role as Tax Manager, she demonstrates an innovative approach to client work, along with strong commerciality. Gillian differentiates herself from others through her unique relationship building skills with both clients and colleagues. Gillian plays a key role in recruiting students and graduates into the firm.
""I believe that the confidence and business skills I developed while training to become a CA stood me in great stead for the CTA which has provided me with further skills in my chosen career.""
Suzy Kerton CA, 28
Financial Accountant, The Cabinet Office, London
In Suzy’s current role in the Cabinet Office, she supports the finance team in preparing the financial statements of the Cabinet Office and dealing with audit queries from the National Audit Office. Prior to this role, Suzy was CFO at ClearBooks plc. Keen to always improving and challenging herself, Suzy will be starting an MBA at Imperial College Business school in September. In 2015 Suzy co-founded a company called ‘Anything International’ which offers international secondments in South America to qualified accountants. Suzy has recently joined a start-up incubator, demonstrating her passion for innovation and challenging the status-quo.
""I hope that my move to the Cabinet Office shows other CAs that the opportunities for CAs are endless and demonstrates how prestigious the CA qualification is.""
Edward Phippen CA, 30
Senior Executive, EY, London
Ed studied mechanical engineering at University, before joining the EY graduate scheme in Bristol as part of the Corporate Finance Department specialising in restructuring engagements. In 2012, Ed joined EY Corporate Finance Operations and Transactions Services (OTS) team in London. His current role is based in Denmark where he’s supporting management with the integration of a Japanese Dermatology business and products.
""The CA qualification has provided me with the confidence to take on any professional challenge with the knowledge that my training ensures I have the tools to tackle a wide range of business issues and problems.""
Claire Sowden CA, 27
Principal Analyst, Capital One (Europe) plc, Nottingham
Claire’s role as Principal Analyst in the Finance Cost team at Capital One (Europe) has been game changing. She has played a supportive role on everything from detailed budgeting to visiting vendors as part of contract negotiations. On a strategic level Claire has partnered to uncover multi-million-pound savings that have been re-invested in the business’ evolution in to a FinTech. Despite being one of the younger members of her team, Claire plays an active role in elevating the work of others. Last year she introduced ‘Cost Star of the Week’, which seeks to recognise and award the exceptional work of others within her team. Claire’s also an active member of a department level team that co-ordinates a recognition programme called ‘Share the Love’ which promotes peer-to-peer recognition.