Top 35 CAs Under 35 2016
We are delighted to announce the top 35 CAs under 35.
These are the future leaders who are standing out from the crowd and leading the next generation of CAs.
Each nominee was considered for one of four competition categories:
Growing great ideas, be it a business venture, a start-up or an entrepreneurial initiative outside their day job. We would love to hear about it.
- Influence & Innovation:
Challenging the status quo and influencing how CAs are perceived across the business world.
Leading the way and inspiring the next generation of CAs. We want to hear of examples when your nominee has successfully lead others.
- Sustainability & CSR:
Giving back and making a positive impact, not just in business but across society too. The nominee may be involved in fundraising work, or volunteering their time and skills to help a charity organisation.
From the 35, four category winners will be announced at this year's CA Dinner and One Young CA Awards in London on 7 September. One of the category winners will then be crowned One Young CA 2016.
Click below to expand and explore the top 35 CAs under 35 2016.
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. In order to reach Board level it was clear that a professional qualification was required and Chartered Accountancy aligned closely with my skill-set. After qualification I was keen to go into M&A in order to gain transaction experience. I then decided to gain investment experience and move towards growth companies as well as working in a more dynamic and entrepreneurial environment and so joined Darwin.
PrimaryBid was spun out into its own entity and completed a Series A fundraise in January 2016. The fundraise was backed by high net worth individuals as well as a number of strategic investors including finnCap, Shore Capital and Arden Partners. The platform formally launched on 3 March 2016 after operating in a Beta format since March 2015 and has raised c£2.4m on behalf of AIM listed companies to date.
As Co-Founder and CFO, Kieran is responsible for oversight of the finance and compliance functions and is involved in the strategic development of the business.
Outside of work, I’m a member of the Venture Partnership Foundation (VPF) which provides a combination of financial support and professional expertise to social enterprises. I’m the VPF point of contact for Hospices of Hope and successfully led them through the VPF funding due diligence process and continue to advise them on their strategy and financial planning.
In my role as Advisory Board Member of Footprints Life Camp (Footprints), I’ve combined my entrepreneurial and social enterprise experience to work closely with the Founder to successfully launch Footprints in 2016. Footprints is a social enterprise which offers camps to young people on the autistic spectrum irrespective of financial circumstances. My input ranged from drafting the business plan, financial forecasts, companies house filings, corporate sponsorship and government grant applications, to marketing and PR messaging. Within its first few months of launch, Footprints has already secured funds from corporates and trusts and has recently completed its first ‘pilot week’ camp.
My CA training underpins my financial skill set and has been at the core of all the roles in my career to date. When I joined the M&A team at Citi, the intake was specifically for qualified Chartered Accountants. At Darwin I was promoted to CFO due to the experience which my CA qualification had allowed me to obtain. During the launch process of PrimaryBid, having the CA was key both internally and externally to regulators, shareholders, clients and the market”.
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. At that time there wasn’t a company doing sweet potato crisps so I decided that was what I was going to do.
I then went on to launch Hectares, which is a premium snack brand. Our focus is on producing snacks for busy people living and working in cities across the UK. As a big fan of snacks I noticed there were no sweet potato crisps on the market. I also believed the big snack companies had become lazy in developing new, innovative products. Consumers were, and continue to, look for healthier snack alternatives without compromising on taste.
The sweet potato crisps were our first product launch and we hope to launch two new ranges during 2016. Our snacks have to meet strict criteria of being simple, nutritious and delicious.
Since launching we have sold over half a million packets of sweet potato crisps and secured customers including BP, Whole Foods and Harvey Nichols.
In 2016 we have big plans to expand our range of products and drive revenue to £1m. It’s very difficult to achieve this but companies like Hectares are pushing ahead with innovation leaving the big brands behind to focus on large volume white potato based products.
Hauling a business off the ground from scratch has been very tough and we are still in the very early stages. There have been many challenges including developing a robust supply chain and managing cashflow. However, we have a very clear idea of where we want to take the business and huge determination in the team to succeed.
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. It's what HMRC want, and it’s what new ambitious Entrepreneurs, just like me want. I'm Big 4 Trained (thanks KPMG for the fantastic CA and CTA qualifications and experience), I'm an experienced Management Accountant who loves to train others in the team and lives to engage operators and push my clients to deliver targets (thanks to Asda head office and the NHS).
I now run my own practice (Hummingbird) where I love to work with people passionate about their own small businesses. I've only been running for 18 months, and have become a Sage One Partner having my clients use and engaged in online services for Payroll and Accounts (both of our lives are easier!). I've been a sponsored Chiclet through RBS's fantastic Entrepreneurial Spark programme where I have received mentoring and also delivered Accounting support to over 50 Entrepreneurs. I've established myself as the Digital Accountant for Barristers in Leeds, including being the local market leader for Barrister incorporations (based on moving quickly on a recent change in regulations for self-employed barristers that can now incorporate) and having one of the first 15 barristers in the UK to incorporate with strong praise from the Bar Standards Board on the quality of my business plan and application.
The CA qualification has helped massively to get where I am today. Firstly, the knowledge I gained from the qualification wasn’t just Accounts, but gave me an overview of areas to watch out for including Contract Law, Management Accounts, Finance and Company and business structures which has led me to be able to be an all-round advisor that highlights risks and suggests where additional advice is required to avoid pitfalls. The qualification helped me to get my roles in both Asda and the not for profit sector where I gained invaluable experience. In relation to my practice it’s recognised and respected by my clients, and most of all the resources that I get through ICAS have been a huge help in setting up. Without the ICAS practice guide I would spend a fortune on Legal fees getting my Engagement Letters drawn up, my practice visit has helped to steer me in the right direction to tighten up my processes and I have used the technical help and Ethics support on offer. Even though I work alone, I do feel like I have additional support when needed”.
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.
“Pronto currently provides the simplest ordering experience, fastest delivery, best packaging, and highest quality food of any company providing hot, on-demand meals in the country. And we do this at the lowest price in the market - customers are able to order a meal from £7, with no minimum order, and no delivery fee, to their door or desk in 20 minutes. But we will do this for £2 within 4 years. And just £1 within 7. Your favourite meal, nutritionally optimised, delivered in 5 minutes, for £1.
The implications of this are vast. Supermarkets cease to exist. Kitchens become the luxury they should be - and cease to exist in 99% of the homes they do currently; the waste of human time through the decentralisation of cooking ends. We don't all collect & purify our own water from the local river - there are better ways! And we are at the forefront of this change. It isn’t crazy - it will happen.
I’ve been recognised by Forbes 30 under 30 for leading this charge, and raised £1m seed funding from Europe’s top venture capitalists and angel investors - Playfair Capital, Seedcamp, Kima Ventures, the largest shareholder in Domino’s - to name a few. We have also just launched a private crowdfunding on Seedrs - and have already surpassed our fundraising target of £700k - we have an unbelievably energetically evangelised customer base. This will open up to the public next week - who knows how far it will go, and will roll into our much larger private fundraise in Q3 this year.
I am also privileged to lead an unbelievable team of over 100 individuals Feeding London - including one other CA! It is too clichéd how we’ve got here; I lived and worked in the warehouse that was our original kitchen for 8 months. A brutal 8 months. I’ve delivered to our customers rain or shine - over 400 times. We endeavour to be a force for good - to bring positive change. That is our first company value. We believe pursuing our vision is in line with this - but we want to do more on the way.
We are launching our ‘Pronto - Stories’ series, with two refugees telling their life stories, alongside Pronto’s pledge 1% commitment, and an initiative to donate a day’s worth of food to refugees on each purchase, next month. I, personally, have already legally given away 5% of any future wealth I create - through the Founder’s Pledge. I will give it all away in the end - of course.
Being a CA is an important part of who I am how, and how I am able to perform. 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, and my CA training gives me the breadth and depth of experience to lead this multi-faceted company. I want to draw attention to that.”
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.
“When I joined Wholesale Domestic, I quickly discovered there was a lack of an IT based stock management system, processes that had been passed through the years with no revision or change, a lack of HR control and a finance function that operated but never excelled. Fast forward three years and we now run the business through an entity wide ERP system with full stock management and control, all staff have documented processes to follow for all tasks, employment contracts exist for all members of the company and the finance function produces monthly management numbers against budgets and targets.
Within three months of joining I took the business online and we now retail 24 hours a day throughout the UK - the result of which has seen turnover in a 50-year-old business double in three years and the number of full time staff increase from 35 to 49.
Our competition changed from local firms to national companies very quickly and as a result we had to support this through the narrowing of our supply chain and review of product offering. We now source product from throughout the world and bring this to market at a price and quality which allows us to be considered a UK firm as opposed to a Glasgow one.
As I write we are putting the final coats of paint on our new 133,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution centre to open summer 2016, which will see more staff added and the ability to serve our ever growing customer base better. This represents a massive leap for a company that always managed stock and fulfilled orders from a 30,000 square ft facility.
In my time with the company, now as IT & Finance Director, the business has been nominated for several awards and we have established connections with Business Gateway, Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise. All of which are required to push through our ambitious growth targets.
I am most proud of what we have achieved with the local employability schemes taking over 20 young trainees with no route to employment and providing them with skills and experience to allow them to seek their first step on their career journey. This has proven so successful for us that 11 of them have earned full time employment with us and several others have had the boost to go on and work with other leading Scottish businesses. I truly believe that the education that the CA gave me has allowed me to revitalise an established business with the promise of becoming larger and give it the required boost to get there. Being able to consider Wholesale Domestic as a national competitor in our industry is great reward for the seeds I planted but then ultimately grown by my staff and colleagues.
“I simply cannot stress how much the rounded nature of the CA qualification has set me up for my current role. Having the ability to understand how a business operates from the roots to the tips has allowed me to come into my current role, review processes that have been operating for decades and implement sweeping changes which have resulted in efficiency changes and business growth. I really took some of the smaller parts of the course for granted when doing them, but they now feature in my daily routine. Some examples would be the ethics part of the education which I practice every day, the personal taxation modules which have allowed me to help my staff with questions both in and out of work, the business systems sections which have allowed me to implement best practice and most importantly pulling all sections together in the final stages of the qualification which has given me the ability to sit back and analyse my business from a distance and be objective as to where it could be improved. As stated above, the CA has been invaluable to myself as an individual, Wholesale Domestic as a business and in turn the growing number of staff we employ and suppliers we deal with”.
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 believe my career achievements are a result of the decisions made since University. Having acquired a computer science related degree; I was intending to become a Management Consultant with Accenture. However, my father (who is also a mentor and role model) convinced me to become a CA. During his time as IT Director at large corporate organisations, he had worked with numerous CFOs and CEOs, and believed whilst organisations are becoming ever more technology and IT focused, there was a clear skills gap of professionals having both strong finance and IT skills. He believed most IT projects ran over budget and failed to fully deliver due to lack of business and IT coordination.
On hearing this, I was convinced there was a niche to fill, so I joined PwC and embarked on my career as a CA. I joined the Risk Assurance Services division of PwC in Birmingham, UK. 50% of my time was spent performing financial audits and 50% performing IT, risk and business process reviews across a range of industries. I very quickly realized the importance of having efficient business processes and strong IT systems to support finance and the business.
After three years, I fully qualified as a CA passing all exams on first sitting. Following five years at PwC, I joined Barclays Bank to be Financial Controller of SME Banking, providing me with my first real industrial accounting experience. I later realised one area of weakness was my product knowledge, so I joined the Product Analytics team to lead a project on product pricing and profitability. This provided me my first hands on commercial business experience. The combination of the CA qualification and experience acquired from the breadth of roles I have performed during my career to date have provided me with the confidence and business acumen to launch a start-up from nothing, and also join a more established technology focused start-up as CFO, leading their finance organisation. Since the initial decision to become a CA, my objective has been to achieve CFO status at a leading organisation that challenges the status quo. And I intend to be a CFO that fully integrates IT and finance to realise the organisation's full potential”.
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),
“With a strong management team, we set about to introduce new and innovative technologies to the Oil and Gas industry. Each product that we looked to supply had only two key requirements; Improve the current health and safety condition and provide and improvement in efficiency resulting in a cost reduction.
We spent the next year and a half introducing various products to the onshore Oil and Gas industry; with mixed success. Our clients are the major operating companies, such as Shell and Total. The products were well received; however, it was felt that they could all be implemented with more success in an offshore environment. We focused resources on a new product that would result in bringing the first fully ATEX low level access lift to the Oil and Gas industry. Removing the requirement for expensive and inefficient scaffolding.
On release of the product in April 2016, we received interest from nine of the sixteen major oil and gas operators in the North Sea and subsequently completed four deployments with different companies in May. This low level access lift will place VISTEM on the forefront of access technology in the world; allowing for international sales to be developed in a further 6 months.
I have proved on several occasions that age has no impact when it comes to ability. I take risks with a view to progression and am willing to deal with the consequences. It is my ability to spot and understand opportunity that has been key to my success to date, along with a firm understanding of the supply and demand equation.
As well as having mentors to run business ideas past, I now help other start up’s in anyway I can. From having a coffee with a founder to share some of the basics, or presenting to local businesses on my experiences to date.
The CA qualification supported this first venture on many different levels. From raising debt finance on different occasions, to supporting both the set up and the growth. As the business progressed an ERP was required with an accounts team; a full system of controls were implemented”.
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.
“In 2009 I got the opportunity to start a new digital marketing agency which we called Bourne, where I took on the role of FD. The business grew quickly with me setting up the legal trading entity in the US for our New York office. We were doing nearly £3m revenue with around a 30% net margin - this attracted attention from bigger players in the space. We sold in 2011 to Next Fifteen Plc. I stayed with the business for a further two years where I was promoted to FD, EMEA of a larger subsidiary, Bite.
In 2013 the entrepreneurial bug hit me again and I left Bite to start Nameloop, an app that allows people to share contact and personal information. The vision is to be the world's network for people to store and share their personal info meaning people control their data and who had access to it; creating one place for managing changes with people and companies you're connected to.
The technical aspects of being a CA are clearly very important to the roles I've had in my career and have set an extremely stable base from which to develop. However, the most important thing for me is being true to myself and the strong ethical stance that comes with being a CA. Trust is huge in business and this has stood me in good stead. Before I setup Bourne, I was with another digital agency very briefly where the company was full of fraud and inappropriate accounting treatment. I had to contact the ICAS ethical support, seek legal advice on my position and also write a TPE (final ICAS reporting exam) style report to the then board of that company, aged just 25! But I stood strong and it was this that gained me the support and trust of people around me who asked me to be part of the new venture (Bourne) that ultimately accelerated my career”.
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.
“Once I qualified as a CA, I transferred to EY in Calgary, Alberta and gained some industry-specific knowledge of the oil and gas industry which is prominent in this region. After two more years of working on a variety of due diligence projects, I transferred to industry with Imperial Oil Limited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. My role there was as Senior Accounting Policy Advisor, with core duties of ensuring the accuracy of reporting in external filings (e.g. 10K / 10Q).
I was also fortunate to be in the role during the emergence of the Dodd-Frank Section 1504 legislation in the US and the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act in Canada, following in the footsteps of the EITI in Europe. I led the readiness and implementation project for Imperial, regularly meeting with industry bodies (the API in Washington and CAPP in Calgary) as well as government officials to determine the best path to increased public transparency in the industry.
After two years at Imperial, I took a maternity leave cover position at Apache Canada Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apache Corporation. Six months in, I was hired full time and promoted to Manager of Financial and Marketing Accounting, leading a team of two supervisors and six accountants at various levels of qualification and training. This is an extremely diverse role, with core responsibility for internal and external reporting and accounting for the region, as well as accurate accounting for our oil and gas marketing division. Early in 2015, the company made the decision to convert from Full Cost to Successful Efforts accounting. My role has therefore expanded to training the Canada team on Successful Efforts accounting, many of whom have only had experience of Full Cost. I also was responsible for calculating the region's adjustment required in order to present historical financial statements under Successful Efforts. Furthermore, due to the economic downturn as a result of the collapse in commodity prices, there have been a number of restructuring activities during my tenure. Perhaps my biggest challenge has been providing staff with growth and learning opportunities and keeping them motivated and focused during this time. To do this, I created rotation opportunities within the function and I am working with CPA Canada to obtain designated training office status, in order to provide a solid foundation for our young CPAs in training.
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 Ernst & Young Canada was almost automatic. This also had a huge impact on my personal life as I had met my Canadian girlfriend (now wife) on holiday prior to commencing my CA training in England. Having endured the three years of living on separate continents, obtaining the CA designation allowed me to easily move to Canada to join her there and we married last year”.
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 specialised in Transaction Services was firstly the ability to encounter so many different businesses and stand alongside the directors as they carry out what is often the most significant change in their business that they have had to handle. Secondly, (dare I say it!) I also quite enjoy the simplicity and maths of a set of accounts and using that to help solve a client’s problem.
I have been consistently graded as a top performer and recently was awarded the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year award for the finance category (after being nominated by my team and undergoing a gruelling interview process!).
I have led delivery on a significant number of transactions with deals in the last year alone being worth in the billions. Some of the higher profile projects my team have led include Ardagh’s $4bn acquisition of Rexam and Ball’s beverage can plants, the £3bn sale of a stake in Associated British Ports, and a significant number of high profile local deals enabling growth and opportunity for businesses in the region.
Two secondments to a FTSE250 company have given me a real commercial insight when advising clients. Alongside client facing engagements I am also active in both my external network and internal EY network, building on my passions of developing people and giving back to the community."
Stuart MacDougall CA, 32
Assurance Director, PwC, London
Stuart studied Accountancy and Finance at Strathclyde University and graduated with a 1st class Honours degree. He joined PwC Glasgow in Core Assurance in 2005. During 2012 Stuart moved to Aberdeen to help support the growth in the Oil and Gas industry.
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. In the growth market in Aberdeen it was a passport to immediate recognition and a platform for trust. This was especially the case when working overseas such is reputation being a CA brings. I have had an opportunity to travel extensively with the firm from regular trips to Houston and The Netherlands, I have also been fortunate to travel to Finland, Cyprus and even Barbados with the firm and each time I travel I always feel that I am supporting our brand as a profession.
My ICAS training has instilled technical and people skills, discipline, the ability to be very organised and manage many teams. I have been involved in a huge variety of engagements and projects, which stems from the confidence given by being a CA, the same confidence that opens many doors within PwC and externally. My move to London was possible as a result of my CA, as is working across many borders.
Being under 35, I am always looking to a future where I can progress further both within the profession as it develops and outside particularly in a rapidly changing world. I have watched ICAS adapt over the past decade and know I can use my experiences to help others adapt. Global connections are fundamental to being a CA in a modern world, as well as being prepared to stand up for integrity and trust.”
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.
“I joined Johnston Carmichael in 2008 as a qualified assistant to the Finance Director and after two years progressed to Financial Controller. I then transferred back into a client facing role in early 2014 becoming a Senior Client Relationship Manager and looking after a diverse portfolio of clients. More recently I have been promoted to a Business Advisory Director with Johnston Carmichael.
I remember having a desire when leaving school to go out and begin a career where I could build up practical experience from day one as I always felt that practical, hands on experience was the secret art in any good career. I also had a desire to “put a pound in my pocket” from day one which learning on the job allowed me to do. I didn't know at the time that accountancy was the career choice that I wanted to pursue however I was good with numbers at school and therefore decided that putting my numeracy skills to good use made sense. I wrote to all the banks and accountancy firms in my local area enclosing my C.V. asking them to consider me for a trainee position. One of the local accountancy firms replied offering me an interview and thereafter a job.
Throughout my career to date I have always felt very fortunate to be sitting with the experience that I have and to work for a firm that has fully supported my career progression. Entering the profession at grass-roots level, straight from school, has given me a strong work ethic and a foot up in gaining valuable practical and commercial experience from an early age. This has provided me with the solid foundation on which to progress my career further and I enjoy drawing down on that experience in assisting clients solve their business issues and in helping them to plan for their future. I am also passionate about inspiring colleagues around me and our next generation of CAs, in particular, inspiring those who are thinking of pursuing a career route similar to mine. I actively assist in speaking to students and parents from our local schools about my experience in obtaining the CA qualification and am passionate about inspiring individuals not only to pursue their ambition to become an accountant, but also to develop an appetite for business and be able to think commercially.
I was once told by a partner of the firm I worked for whilst studying for my CA qualification that the best thing about having the qualification is the doors that it opens for you and my experience since obtaining my CA qualification has been exactly that. 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.
“During H2 I relocated to Tokyo to take up the post of interim CEO with our new JV with Yahoo! Japan, developing the team in Tokyo to improve the product and drive growth. During this period, we more than doubled monthly visitors and revenue. I successfully advocating for systems access rights for team in Japan, which initially faced opposition from CxOs but was a significant blocker to progress for the team in Japan. The team of software engineers in Japan don’t own any of the code, either front end (on the website) or backend (the systems that serve up the results). Therefore, without access to other squad’s code bases they couldn’t make changes by themselves to improve the product to tailor it for the Japanese traveller.
The growth of Skyscanner over the last few years means I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in refinancing the business, employee option buy-backs, implementing new employee global share schemes, numerous acquisitions including Fogg (hotel metasearch business) and Youbibi (the Shenzhen (China) based travel metasearch site) as well as the challenges of overseeing the Finance operations across the 9 offices we now have across the world. We’re also currently implementing a new global FMS, creating process efficiencies and growing and helping to develop the impact of the Finance team across our international locations.
The CA qualification has given me the ability to objectively and constructively challenge ideas, including my own. It's helped me to communicate in a concise way that will address the needs or concerns of stakeholders and importantly it's encouraged me to make data driven decisions where possible, and where that's not possible to make decisions based on risk appetite. 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.
“In my current role as Partner in RSM, I am responsible for a large proportion of the corporate audit clients serviced out of our Edinburgh office. My portfolio focuses on the manufacturing & distribution, food & drink, infrastructure and professional practice sectors. I’ve played an active role in shaping RSM’s audit practice in Scotland and following the merger with RSM Tenon in 2013, I was involved in integrating and embedding the new team and new clients to ensure consistency in service across an expanding client portfolio.
I elected to study Accountancy & Finance at University having enjoyed this subject at school. Over the years however 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 supporting them to achieve their long term goals and understanding their differing requirements. 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.
“Working in OTS, we support the whole deal lifecycle from initial assessment, operational due diligence, merger integration, separation, though to post deal value enhancement. We work on projects which vary in service offering, sector, duration and team size; offering great variety! As an Analyst I was fortunate to be selected as a grade representative at the EMEIA TAS Leaders and Women Partners Conference: actively discussing perceptions of females in leadership and inclusive leadership. I continued to support this initiative in developing and sharing ideas for improving the gender imbalance in TAS.
This year I participated in the EY Secondment Programme. My placement was to our Dubai OTS practice, which gave me great insight to working in a smaller team (MENA has eleven people, compared to the 200 we have). The opportunity to work internationally offered new and rewarding perspectives and experiences; providing me with the opportunity to work abroad in a fast-paced dynamic environment and to support EY/OTS achieve the objective of building diverse borderless teams in order to better service our clients. It also helped address my self-development and broader career ambitions within EY.
Whilst in Dubai I had the chance to plan a Middle Eastern oil and gas integration, identify and assure synergies for a deal within healthcare and led the diagnostic phase of a global consumer product integration. I really enjoy the people element of my job and love that my department is open to any member, despite their grade, being involved in shaping and driving forward development of the practice. Recognising theimportance of identifying talent for the future growth of the team, and in the absence of a formal programme structure when I joined, I liaised with our leadership to develop and establish a structured Graduate Programme.
I am also an active member of the OTS and EY Women’s Network, attending talks and sharing/learning from others’ experiences."
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.
“In March 2011 I took the decision to move to EY’s Munich office in the Risk Advisory practice. While progressing to Manager I played a key role on a highly complex project for a German blue-chip business, with project time spent in Asia, North and South America and across Europe. During my time in Germany I loved working in a rapidly growing service line and navigating some of the inevitable challenges which come with that growth.
When I returned to the UK in the autumn of 2013 I knew that I wanted to work for a smaller but, fast-growing company. I wanted to find a role where I would be able to get exposure to a management team focused on achieving the highest growth expectations. I was confident that I would be able to use my CA training and experience to be a key asset to such a leadership team, while also learning new skills and building my network outside of EY.
I chose to join what is now Radius; a consultancy business which supports companies as they expand internationally. Following a brief period working in the Compliance team, I moved into the role of Program Manager. This saw me working as a direct report to the VP Operations, who has ownership of a broad swathe of the company’s business, primarily building and scaling our Indian Centre of Excellence delivering payroll, accounting and compliance services to our customers. The Program Manager role required me to synthesise all of the skills I had gained from my CA studies and working experience. I drew upon my time in Advisory to look critically at the ‘as-is’ processes and led a range of actions to improve the quality, speed and cost of our operations. I also played a financial controller role for the Operations function, providing financial analysis and insight to our performance. I worked closely with the CFO and the FP&A team on projections, models and budgets for the Operations area in a time of significant organisational change and growth.
In June 2015 I was asked to relocate to Mumbai to be the interim leader of our India offices. I took on the day-to-day running of our delivery centre; over 500 staff in two separate cities during a period of very rapid growth, which included the successful insourcing of around 250 client accounts from a third party provider. When I arrived in India I was determined to give the staff all the tools and opportunities they needed to enable them to succeed. I advocated and publicised the company goals and ensured that our daily behaviours reflected and re-enforced these.
Since returning to the UK, I have been asked to lead a Solution Development team to work on our largest and most complex sales opportunities. I’ll soon be relocating to the USA to be closer to our main market and am truly excited to have this opportunity to be part of the front line in helping to grow the business. The new role promises to offer a wealth of developmental opportunities, including building a new team and embedding our skill set as a key part of the sales process, as well as continuing to work closely alongside some of the company’s senior leaders to help us achieve our goals.
ICAS and the CA qualification have been a constant element in my career to date. The depth and breadth of the training has given me the confidence and self-belief to be able to move between service lines (audit, advisory), countries (UK, Germany, India and soon America) and organisations (EY, Radius) 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.
“Numbers were my strength from a young age. I loved a good maths puzzle. I also enjoy exploring the world, learning from new cultures as I went. During my eight years at EY I worked in Delhi, India, managing a major listing opportunity for SMR Group. I also seconded to BAE and Vosper Thorneycroft (BVT) multi-million-dollar ship building joint venture to create a consolidated accounting function. I learnt that I was able to make a notable and positive difference in a short space of time.
I joined SuzoHapp in October 2013 after a successful career at EY. I loved my time at EY, but to have been headhunted for this role - it was an offer I could not refuse. I took the opportunity to restructure the Australian operations and expand into Hong Kong, India and the Philippines. We have gone from strength to strength through acquisition and organic growth. We pride ourselves on innovation and this year we won the Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Innovation Award at the Asia Gaming Awards.
The support that I receive from the Executive Management team, bearing in mind that they appointed me straight from a Big 4, at age 28, has been phenomenal. Without their trust and guidance, I would have struggled to make the impact that I believe I have done in the past three years. We are now going through the due diligence process to package the company for sale, allowing our investors to realize a solid return.
Melbourne is a city build on sport and the arts. I sit as Treasurer on the Board and Executive Committee of NETS, the touring arm of the National Gallery of Victoria. I am responsible for the review of the monthly financial statements, budgeting, Grant approvals, financial statement audits and banking relationships. The feedback that I receive from the rest of the Board is that they are amazed at how much I have achieved in three years, in terms of streamlining procedures, transparency, budgeting and introducing a new ERP system.
Initially 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 whilst out at audit clients. My managers and partners had obtained the same qualification. They were very supportive and accommodating to my learning needs. I certainly improved my time management, task prioritisation and on-the-job knowledge sharing techniques in my early years."
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.
“I left Scotland to undertake a two-year secondment with our Singapore member firm, Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton, in March 2013. Around the time this secondment ended, Foo Kon Tan left the Grant Thornton International network and a new member firm, Grant Thornton Singapore, was established. I was invited to join the new firm and helped establish the audit department in conjunction with one partner and one senior manager. Grant Thornton Singapore now has over 80 employees, with nearly half of these in the audit department. I am an audit manager, with other responsibilities including line-manager to 9 associates, training coordinator for various professional qualification programmes (including ICAEW, ISCA and CPA Australia), head of graduate recruitment, independence compliance officer and mentor. I chose this career path as I wanted a career in which I could make a real positive difference to clients, colleagues and the profession, experience new places and cultures and have no two days the same...I've undoubtedly found this!
The CA qualification has been like having a second passport; it is an internationally renowned and respected qualification which has helped me reach one of my career ambitions of working abroad. The qualification has provided me with a fantastic technical knowledge, instilled professional values such as honesty and integrity and encouraged me to make a real positive difference to our profession. I couldn't have made it this far in my career without such support from the CA qualification and the Institute”.
Sustainability & CSR
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 was the first person in my family to attend university and graduated with a "top of class" honours in B.Acc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Glasgow in 2011.
After volunteering abroad over the summer break, I joined the Deloitte graduate programme in audit and became CA-qualified in 2014. During the three years, I had the opportunity to build Financial Services experience through my audit work. At the same time, I sought out opportunities to contribute to the firm's community investment and "Green Journey" programmes and was an advisor to a Glasgow University student-led social enterprise (Enactus) as well as Strathclyde University's international student volunteering initiative (SID).
In 2013, my essay on sustainable supply chains was awarded joint-first in the ICAS Sustainability Essay competition and I have been involved in the ICAS Sustainability Committee since, focusing specifically on the "digital subgroup" to engage younger members on issues of sustainability, e.g., through the annual competition and social media campaigns.
In 2015,I moved to London to work in consulting services. I now work on finance transformation programmes as well as process efficiency and cost reduction projects. Since moving to London, I have taken part in the firm's Social Impact agenda, including running workshops for some of our social innovation pioneers, as well as actively shaping the Diversity and Inclusion agenda within my department”.
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.
“After graduating with a BA in Accounting from the University of Dundee, I completed an MA investigating ethical investment and the performance of the FTSE4Good indices, followed by a PhD in financial reporting.
Prior to joining SSE in 2010 as part of their group audit function, I completed my CA training with PwC in their Edinburgh and Aberdeen offices. I have published in both international accounting journals and non-academic publications. The reason I choose sustainability is that I want to help companies make better business decisions that consider more than financial implications so we all have a sustainable future.
Being a CA has internally provided me core skills in analytical thinking and an evidence based approach. Externally it 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.
“During my eight years working in Transaction Services at KPMG, I worked on over a hundred transactions, including four involving Argent. 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.
When I decided to leave KPMG in 2014, and the opportunity to join Argent arose, I was delighted to be able to say yes. Since joining the business, in addition to the very wide range of activities associated with being a Finance Director, I've enjoyed much of the hands on and commercial aspects to. Including taking a lead in the development of our strategy to grow sales direct to end customers (such as the recent Metroline contract win in London). I also help to monitor and manage the oversight of the construction of the new plant at Stanlow (near Liverpool). This will more than double Argent's current production capacity. It will also greatly increase the range of feedstocks from which Argent can produce biodiesel, including a range of fats, oils and greases such as sewer grease, an area which Argent has pioneered and has recently been awarded a patent for this product.
There are three key areas where the CA qualification has been very helpful. Firstly, as someone who had very limited experience of this sector before starting the graduate programme and CA studies, the introduction to finance and accountancy has proved invaluable. Secondly, in terms of financial analysis. Both the actual practicalities of certain types of analysis (bridges, common ratios etc) but more importantly the thorough grounding in the analytical frame of mind and approach. And finally, developing commercial thinking has probably been the most useful area which was developed during the CA training, in particular during TPE”.
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.
Jamie is currently finishing building a three bedroom, upside down, Eco-House in East Ayrshire. The key to an Eco-house is quality insulation and with triple glazing the house can be heated by a single candle. The renewable highlights of the house include a ground source heat pump which provides under floor heating and hot water, heat recovery system and solar PV. Jamie has worked on the house with the help of his uncle and dad as well as local contractors when required.
Jamie is a member of Townhead Community Church in Newmilns and chairs a small team of co-ordinators who are responsible for putting on free events for the benefit of the local community. Highlights include a Burns Supper and Ceilidh, a Family Fun Day and the popular Quiz and Curry Night. Jamie teaches the Good News Club (Sunday School) and helps organise the week long annual Sunday School camp in Arbroath at the start of July (Daisy has been counting down the days since March). Jamie also assisted Scripture Union with the Ayrshire Camp at Lendrickmuir in May this year.
In 2012, Jamie went to the Philippines with four friends (Callum, Zara, Stuart and Katie) to build houses on a dump site in Smokey Mountain for two weeks with charity Philippine Community Fund (PCF), which works to tackle poverty and end child labour. The small team managed to build five houses in the time they were there and organised a local joiner to build a sixth house after they returned to the UK.
Jamie has maintained links with the Philippines and the team sponsor Ariel through school. Ariel helped the team on the dump site but wasn’t able to go to school with the other children as he didn’t have a birth certificate. The team paid the admin fee for the birth certificate for 5,000 Peso (circa. £5) and Ariel has been doing well in school ever since. The team sponsors Brenda through College. Brenda acted as the team’s translator while the team were in Tondo. Jamie also sponsors Giomarc and Jovanie through primary school through the PCF programme.
“I work in Corporate Finance for Johnston Carmichael specialising in infrastructure and renewable energy projects. 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 which also inspired me to build an Eco-House. I am also passionate about community renewable energy projects and was involved in the Award Winning Point & Sandwick project - the largest wholly owned community renewable energy project in the UK and have been appointed to the Board of Neilston Development Trust on a pro bono basis.”
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. SF's goal is to catalyse the innovation and scale-up of disruptive new models and technologies that can ultimately transform the lives and livelihoods of many millions of people. This was a non-finance, commercial role, identifying, financing and working with social enterprises directly to maximise their social and environmental impact and accelerate their journey sustainability.
In this role, I was responsible for six partner enterprises and also oversaw the development of SF’s launch in China, including supporting their first Chinese social enterprise. The diverse social objectives of these partners included sustainable electricity to off-grid communities in India, to improving the sustainability of the cotton supply chain benefitting smallholder farmers in the developing world.
In 2015 I became SF's CFO and am now responsible for managing all social investments and its $450 million endowment fund, which by the end of 2015 had created over 55,000 jobs; reduced carbon in the environment by over 10 million tonnes; and is believed to have benefitted the lives of nearly 48 million people. With SF’s support, their partners have also been able to raise over $5 billion of additional financial support from other sources. I use my technical CA background to advise finance functions in partner enterprises and assist them in building long-term business strategies and operations leading to financial sustainability.
In addition to the external impact SF are making to social enterprises globally, my priority has also been to build an efficient and forward thinking finance function within SF. This aims to enable SF to more efficiently finance and fund social enterprises, allowing SF to maximise the impact its endowment has on the world. I will continue to innovate in the way SF uses its flexible capital to support partners, demonstrating the tremendous power of philanthropic capital when deployed in a calculated, risk tolerant manner,
In my spare time, I’m a Trustee of the charity UCanDoIT which has delivered over 50,000 individual IT training sessions to people with various disabilities in their own homes, on their own computers at a cost they can afford, enabling them to access the benefits of the digital world”.
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
“As Sustainability Manager at Heathrow Airport Limited, I focus on sustaining and continuously improving Heathrow’s reputation with regard to sustainability performance and ambition and lead engagement with a wide range of stakeholders.”
At Heathrow she is wellbeing ambassador where she is helping her colleagues to think about their physical and mental wellbeing and as part of Heathrow's Diamond partnership with Duke of Edinburgh in 2016, she has organised a series of challenges for her colleagues to raise money that will give local young people the opportunity to gain access to the world's leading youth achievement award.
I am also Lead Alumni on the University of Liverpool’s Social Enterprise and Impact Professional Interest Network which is a professional development forum for alumni to collaborate, learn and network together in areas of shared interest. In 2015, I was a finalist in Finance Leader of Future Category at the Finance for the Future Awards sponsored by ICAEW and the Princes Accounting for Sustainability Project. I was recently asked to join the Edie Sustainability Leadership Network and I am awards assessor for Business in the Community’s 2016 Responsible Business Awards.”
Heather qualified as a CA with KPMG and decided to pursue a career in sustainable finance, working with companies to integrate sustainability into core business strategy and across their supply chains and operations. This passion led Heather to work in sustainable development for The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery money in the UK to good causes and in the for the Organising Committee for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in a dual capacity as sustainability coordinator and as finance business partner.
“The CA qualification has given me a comprehensive training in core business processes and these skills which have been essential to my understanding of business strategy and developing the business case for sustainability. For example, at Heathrow I work closely with our procurement department to embed sustainability in our supply chain through the tender and contract management processes. I’m currently an advisory panel member on the ICAS Sustainability Committee, a position I value immensely. The committee aims to increase awareness of sustainability issues and disseminate best practice to ICAS members and the wider public. I’m a member of the media subgroup which promotes sustainability through producing content for the ICAS website, CA magazine and in 2015 we ran a successful and engaging ICAS Sustainable Business Case competition. 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.
“After a further year in CF advisory I knew I wanted to leave practice and go into industry but I was unclear in terms of sector other than I enjoyed financial services and sought a purpose in my job."
In 2012, Thomas joined Social Investment Scotland (SIS) as FD following a search for an organisation which shared his values and demonstrated incredible potential.
"Over the years, we have grown the team from five to 18 and increased funds under management by almost £20m, raising over £25m from over 30 new investors - most importantly connecting capital with communities across Scotland which otherwise cannot access investment through commercial means.
This journey has had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. I'm totally motivated by the concept of using profit to achieve purpose and connecting organisations with investors to support growth and social impact. Over the last three years it is clear this concept is gaining significant momentum throughout the UK, both from an entrepreneur and investor perspective. It's about doing business the right way. My role has organically evolved into a more operational and strategic position. This has allowed me to be more entrepreneurial and is best demonstrated through a fund I founded and operate called Community Capital. This was the UK's first mass participation social investment fund backed by a tax relief; attracting 27 new investors into the market whilst providing more flexible and affordable investment which I hope will unlock significant innovation in the social business sector.
SIS has also developed significant partnerships with leading financial institutions and also Asda over the past 18 months. I was involved in brokering each relationship driven by a passion of influencing large corporate behaviours to act in a more sustainable and social way. What we are now seeing is a shift in attitude across the board and many are appraising social return on investments rather than purely financial.
So in summary, my career path so far has been influenced by several factors and chance throughout. However, at the core is the alignment of mission and values and also having a lot of fun on the way!
The CA qualification has been vital for my career progression to date. Since I was young, I knew I wanted to be involved in business and through ICAS I have had a depth of experience in many different sectors. The rich knowledge gained and networks accessed through the institute have been instrumental for my personal development and career goals. I regularly underestimate the breadth of knowledge and skills leveraged by the qualification. ICAS has also introduced me to partners which have strategically benefited SIS (such as SSE and The Robertson Trust) and also supported platform articles circulated throughout the membership”.
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.
“I have recently taken the role of Acting Area Financial Controller, for the Africa and Developing Countries business within GSK. Prior to joining GSK I worked with PwC London for five years, mainly working on FTSE 100 clients, before taking a secondment developing a new office in Mongolia. This experience has been a pivotal change in my career, and has shaped the subsequent career choices. It was there where I experienced first-hand the positive impact a private corporation can have on the economy and importance of embedding shared value and sustainability as part of day to day business. Not only was the Rio Tinto investment driving significant growth in the economy, but also in developing a mining town near the site, they were able to raise the living standards as well as being good for the bottom line (the reduction in flight costs overall balance out the cost of developing the town).
In our free time a couple of us got together and organised a Queen’s Jubilee ball in Ulaanbaatar in 2012, and together we raised £15,000 for charity from that event.
I decided a change was needed after coming back from secondment, and explored a number of options including sustainability reporting and moving into the not-for-profit sector. That was also the time I was invited to join the Volunteer Action for Peace executive committee, and also the ICAS Sustainability Committee. Whilst acting as chair to the Sustainability Committee’s digital sub group, I came up with the idea of organising a sustainable business competition and led the project last year. We are currently in the process of designing the activities calendar for the next 12 months and will be looking to run a similar competition next year.
I have recently returned from a six-week volunteering trip in Ghana, working with the Bright Generation Community Foundation(BGCF)/Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative on finance capability building. Having returned to the UK, we are trying to find ways to develop two projects, on access to water and meeting sanitary needs. I am currently contacting a number of organisations including Unilever, WaterAid, and also the Enactus Programme (there was one project which created sanitary products using banana fibre – a material that is also readily available in Ghana).
The CA qualification has opened up many opportunities in my career to date. When I qualified as a CA I never thought one day I would be developing a new office in Mongolia! It has also allowed me to explore other career options informally (for example through the Sustainability Committee). It is also worth mentioning the strength of the network – having returned from the Ghana visit I have been looking for ways to continue to support the organisation (as mentioned above). I am able to use the sustainability committee as a sounding board, and also leverage on their network. The CA qualification has also helped to enable me to make a more technical contribution when volunteering. I have previously volunteered in an orphanage in Mongolia and also with a number of other organisations as a generalist. But the impact is much greater contributing as an accountant – not only am I bringing technical skills to the table, but in return I am also able to see a much broader picture of the running of the organisation, which makes it a more fulfilling experience”.
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. I soon discovered that I particularly enjoyed with those types of organisations and so I went on to specialise in not-for-profit work during my training, doing both internal and external audit assignments. After qualifying, I continued working at PKF but developed more of a focus in internal audit and worked in both London and Glasgow, doing assignments on both national and international not for profit organisations. I then left practice for three years to widen my experience in internal audit as I wanted to gain experience of implementing improvements from within an organisation to help better appreciate the challenges that can be faced.
Eighteen months ago I moved to Scott-Moncrieff, initially as an internal audit manager however I was then promoted to Senior Manager in November last year. Within Scott-Moncrieff, I have continued to work with both charities and public sector bodies and my current portfolio focuses mainly on education and on central government. I also recently completed the Chartered Internal Auditor exams and I act as a mentor to students who are sitting both ICAS and IIA exams. I am currently also leading a project team to implement a new internal audit system for use throughout the firm.
The CA qualification has meant that prospective employers know that I have a world class qualification with excellent technical skills but also strong strategic, economic and business skills. Being a CA meant I was given a more senior role when I moved into industry working at a Fortune 500 company. Although I did not have managerial experience, the director in charge was a fellow CA and so knew the skills that I had already acquired would equip me to take on the challenges ahead. I have found that in my present role, working with senior executives, civil servants and government, that being a CA means that they understand my qualification is a benchmark for a high level of expertise, giving them confidence in my capabilities from the outset”.
Influence & Innovation
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.
“I’m currently undertaking a secondment in Shell Canada’s Tax Audit & Litigation team, based in Calgary, Canada. During my secondment, I have effectively and positively contributed to advancing Shell Canada’s audit and litigation matters. In addition, I’ve significantly contributed to a project aiming to incorporate Shell Canada into Shell’s vision of its offshore tax operation supporting dispute resolution work. The international context of the project has required me to adopt an innovative approach to completing a wholesale analysis of Shell Canada’s audit & dispute resolution issues. Throughout the project, strong analytical skills were required to determine the feasibility of the migration of particular activities while considering geographical and legal
constraints and opportunities to strategically rethink ways of working to support the migration effort. This involved significant risk assessment, identification of possible risk mitigation strategies and consideration of realistic timelines given the complex technical nature of audit issues.
Given my role, and the size and scope of Shell’s international operations, I’ve built upon my CA knowledge and expertise by completing a second professional qualification focusing on international tax, resulting in the awarding of an Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (“ADIT”), for which I was awarded distinction.
Outside of my day to day role, I have further utilised my CA and ADIT expertise and problem solving skills by participating in a 2015 Shell country tax review project which focused on identifying potential opportunities for improvements in-country and best practices to be shared with other countries. I’m also responsible for organising regular knowledge sharing presentations for the broader Tax team based in London.
The CA qualification has been an excellent basis for a career in tax. It taught practical and analytical skills and how to communicate issues and solutions in a concise and clear manner, particularly during TPE, which assists me to tailor complex tax advice for audiences as required. The CA qualification hasallowed me to buildon the solid grounding of knowledge in tax and accountancy it provided and expand my expertise in international tax. The breadth of the CA qualification has enabled various career opportunities such as moving into an industry role and undertaking a 1-year international assignment in Canada”.
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.
“In 2014, I was elected onto the FA Council and, at less than half the average age, I’m the youngest FA Councillor of any background and the first Asian and first Muslim woman on this, the ultimate decision making body of the organisation.
I actively use my experience and pride of being a CA to create real sustainable change for our world. My work spans from community groups right through to the Government and I’ve worked as far afield as the US, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and across Europe.
When I’m not organising community clubs, sports events and educational programmes, I am an inspirational speaker, commentator, motivator and panellist at a number of events as well as advising some of the largest sports, Premier League Clubs and equality organisations.
I’ve given evidence to Parliament’s Women in Sport Inquiry and was appointed to support the triennial review of the DCMS in 2015 by the then Sports Minister. I have worked with Government, including with Sports Ministers Tracey Crouch and Helen Grant, the DCMS and Sport England.
I'm also on the Advisory Board of the international digital magazine, Shirzanan Global, to help encourage more Muslim women role models in sport.
I was named Sky Sports and Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year in 2013, FA Grassroots Hero in 2013 (award presented by HRH Prince William) and was a member of the 2009 Muslim Women Power List.
I help nurture, support and develop others, particularly those from minority communities, so that they too may work towards reaching their potential. I’m opening doors for myself whilst also ensuring that they are kept firmly open for others to follow in my footsteps. This includes my recent connection with Leadership Through Sport & Business, which supports young disadvantaged people to begin accounting careers in the City of London.
I’m still beginning my leadership journey and have recently set up my own consulting business, Rimjhim Consulting, where I work with the sports industry and business sector to increase opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds”.
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.
“In December 2013 I took up the role of Financial Accountant at DFID. I was responsible for the preparation of the annual financial statements as well as responsibility for DFID’s VAT matters. In November 2014 I was promoted to the Senior Management accountant with the role of leading in-year financial management of a £10bn budget, ensuring key targets (including ODA which is the UK Governments commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on international aid.) and ring-fences are monitored and managed through the year.
I directly lead a team of three qualified accountants, two trainees and two non-qualified staff. I also provide support to over 30 finance managers and four finance business partners across the organisation. This role is a perfect role for me as it balances using my skill, an interest in politics with an organisation that is doing good in the world. I am not out on the front line delivering aid but without the skill of the finance staff DFID would be unable to maximise its aid spend to deliver more results. It is an organisation which fits my morale conscious that is why I enjoy working here.
In addition, I hold a second employment with the entrepreneur who employed me back when I was 17. His businesses continue to grow and he required a part time person to oversee his bookkeeper. I do this on a part time basis in the evening and weekends. I really wanted to give back to him after supporting me early in my career.
Within my current role I am also mentoring a finance graduate through their qualification and training. I also stood for ICAS council at the AGM in 2013.
Being a CA has given me experiences that I would never have achieved without the qualification. Most importantly as a result of being a CA I have a job that I love, I have achieved a great deal under the age of 30 which has allowed me to provide for and create a very happy family environment for my wife and daughter. I have also been able to combine a number of my hobbies and interests with my career over the years including my love of politics combined with my job at DFID. My role at DFID also sits well with my ethical stance on helping those in need, something which I have always considered to be important since a young age. Whilst I was at Robb Ferguson I was able to give back and support young and entrepreneurial business which I believe it the strength of our economy. Being a CA has given me a great deal of confidence in my ability as the training is tough and to achieve the qualification builds your confidence greatly. It has also given me the opportunity to teach, it has built my presentational skills through presenting board papers at Senior Management Meetings, in front of a class of fellow professionals teaching them a new subject, and communicating with clients on a regular basis.
Being a CA has also allowed me to build a great support network with fellow professionals, it allows me to continue to learn through CPD opportunities and it has allowed me to do some good in this world through my job and volunteering which I hope to build on. Without the CA badge I would have never been able to obtain the role in DFID which has allowed me to travel to Ethiopia for a week to experience our programmes in action, a continent I never thought I would get the opportunity to visit, I would never have been involved in politics at the level I am at including sitting in the civil servants box on the floor of the House of Commons. Most importantly I would not 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.
“My decision to study for the CA qualification was an easy choice as I had always enjoyed finance and knew this was the route I would pursue. I was fortunate to know a number of experienced CA’s, some who held high profile jobs, therefore was aware of the opportunities that would be available working as a qualified CA at PwC.
In my current role, I’m responsible for embedding a robust and effective compliance framework across the GIB group. This involves advising the business on relevant legislation and industry regulatory changes, identifying and monitoring all material internal and external compliance risks, managing ongoing financial crime/due diligence risk assessments and ensuring the business is in compliance with its policies and procedures.
The opportunity to join the GIB was too good to turn down for two reasons. Firstly, as I have a young family I wanted flexibility to spend more time with them, therefore achieving a better work life balance was very important to me. Secondly, I was ready for a new challenge and was excited to take on a completely new role where I could test myself in an exciting sector.
I have always taken a keen interest in climate change and renewable energy and now have the opportunity to be a part of building a unique Scottish business which is leading the way in the UK renewables market and stimulating investment into a greener economy. I also wanted to show that being a CA is not always about numbers and prove to myself that I had the experience and ability to learn new skills in a different area.
I was told from day one that a CA qualification opened doors to so many opportunities and whilst I’m still in the early stages of my career, I have no doubt that the experience I have gained as a CA has been crucial to my success so far. When applying for my role at GIB I could demonstrate the flexible and transferable nature of the qualification and my peers trusted and respected my experience, allowing me to build new relationships in a very short period of time. Training as a CA also made me realise I am a competitive person and driven to always better myself. On reflection I didn’t push myself hard enough at school or university but studying at ICAS changed this mind-set and made me strive to achieve the best results and become a top performer. I always want to improve and learn and at PwC this drive was reflected in achieving early promotion to Manager ahead of my peer group, followed by a subsequent early promotion to Senior Manager.
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. I review accounts and help with financial planning for a local charity, the Edinburgh Limb Loss Association, which I have a personal connection with and also help my mother manage the financial affairs of her gardening business. This is a venture she started later in life but with no experience of how to run a business or manage its finances, therefore I am in the fortunate position to provide support to keep her accounts on track and give advice whenever she needs it”.
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.
“My role has evolved into a mixture of compliance work, managing a portfolio of corporate tax clients, and a strong focus on 'innovation taxes', including R&D and Patent Box claims. I have always enjoyed studying and working in tax, utilising a mixture of technical and communication skills while having the opportunity to find solutions for clients and, in many cases with innovation taxes, apply the reliefs which can result in a real cash flow benefit (critical for many clients in Aberdeen in recent times).
The training I undertook to become a CA has been invaluable for me working in tax. Added to the knowledge I gained at university, the technical skills developed during TPS exams provided a firm grounding for my career in corporate tax. The communication and business awareness skills I then developed during TPE have allowed me to build strong relationships with clients and understand the bigger picture while having a better understanding of the challenges their businesses face. Following my qualifying as a CA, I then decided to enhance my skills further by undertaking studies to become a Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA) with the Chartered Institute of Taxation. I believe that the confidence and business skills I developed while training to become a CA stood me in great stead for this qualification 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.
“As CFO of ClearBooks for nearly two years and through exposure in One Young CA 2015 I hope that I have been a role model for young female CAs to encourage them to strive for leadership positions.
As CFO I was included in the 2016 Business Awards - FD Growing Business shortlist demonstrating the positive changes I brought to ClearBooks and I spoke at ICAS’ Values into Action event to share my experiences and inspire others to use their CA qualification to make a positive difference.
This year my goal has been to challenge myself and broaden my horizons. I have recently taken up a Financial Accountant role at the Cabinet Office, where I am supporting the finance team prepare the annual accounts. 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.
Through my experience at ClearBooks of being a young, female CFO, I realised that to gain respect and credibility in the business world I need to armour myself with further skills. Therefore, in the spirit of always improving and challenging myself, I decided my natural next step was a MBA at Imperial College Business School starting in September 2016. I am particularly eager to use my experiences to inspire other young businesswomen to strive for opportunities and to become more involved in the movement to promote women in business during my MBA. On joining Imperial, I hope to influence the way that CAs are perceived across the business world.
Last year I co-founded a company called Anything International. We aim to offer international secondment opportunities in South America to qualified accountants. The idea came from my own experience of going on secondment to Baker Tilly Argentina and I want to be able to offer CAs this opportunity as it was such a valuable life experience.
I have joined a start-up incubator to develop the idea, demonstrating my passion for innovation and challenging the status-quo for accountants. I have also recently attained my practising certificate from ICAS as I wanted to offer my accounting services to start-ups and female entrepreneurs. I have become a mentor for the MassChallenge incubator where I offer my advice as a CA to start-ups on a voluntary basis.
I have started hosting bookkeeping workshops for start-ups to help teach basic bookkeeping skills. My passion for helping start-ups is driven by wanting to use my skills to help social enterprises that have a positive impact in society.
The CA has supported me in every aspect of my career to date. From going on international secondment to being offered a place and scholarship on the MBA course at Imperial College Business School. I can honestly say that I have been supported by the CA qualification in everything that I have done in my career to date”.
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 rationale for joining a professional services firm was simple; I had a desire to understand how companies operate and make money. My initial three years with the firm were based in Bristol, where I was part of the Corporate Finance department specialising in Restructuring engagements. The exposure to distressed businesses in Nightclubs, Hire Purchase, Media / Entertainment, Telecommunications and Retail industries was fascinating.
However, in 2012 I chose a different career path and joined EY Corporate Finance Operations and Transaction Services (OTS) team in London. The reason for this change was a desire to support growing businesses and gain an exposure to an increase in M&A activity. OTS support and partner management teams through the transaction lifecycle and specialise in complex integrations and carve-outs. The work varies from due diligence engagements, strategic roles, through to large scale project management roles.
My current role is based in Denmark where we are supporting management with the integration of a Japanese Dermatology business and products. This complex deal is transformational to the Danish company and provides them with an opportunity to grow into new markets. The fact that the Danish company have never undertaken a deal of this size has meant my trusted adviser skills are being used to their full extent.
The CA qualification has provided me with the confidence to take on any professional challenge with the knowledge that my CA 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.
“I started my accountancy career on a Graduate scheme in Audit at EY, Nottingham. I was drawn into Ernst & Young following attendance at a Milkround event at Nottingham University, where I completed my BSc degree in Mathematics. I was attracted to the culture of the practice and the idea of getting experience at a number of different businesses. During my time at EY, I was given the chance to work on a number of high profile audits including Britvic plc & Next plc. After three and half years as an audit associate I became interested in a role in industry, so I could put into practice a lot of the skills I had learnt whilst auditing businesses. I was lucky enough to join the Cost team at Capital One as a business partner for the Operations area of the business. After a year in this role, which involved budgeting, driving million-pound cost savings and input into vendor RFP's, I was promoted to a role consolidating the entire cost base for Capital One in the UK which involves reporting to key leadership and coaching a team of three.
My CA qualification has been the driving force for my career path. The qualification gave me the knowledge required to excel during my time with audit clients which gave my managers the confidence to increase my exposure including a trip to Chicago to work with a subsidiary for a new client. Since my time at Capital One, the analytical skills I learnt whilst completing my CA qualification have enabled me to aid business decisions and explain finance implications of projects to the wider business. This led to a nomination by the finance leadership team for the New Accountant of the Year award at the Business Finance Awards which I ultimately won”.