My dad was a senior accountant for Vodafone so I grew up with, and always liked, the accountancy world. I was always good with numbers and logic.

James Cowper Kreston is a large UK practice of 24 partners and more than 200 staff. We offer a broad spectrum of services to our clients, most of whom are based in the Thames Valley. We also do a lot of work internationally as part of our Kreston Global membership.

We've always done a lot of fundraising, and we give our people a certain number of days off a year to do corporate social responsibility-related activities. It's our 100th anniversary this year, so we felt it was a good time to launched the James Cowper Kreston Foundation, which is driven by a nominations committee made up of a range of people across the firm. We all feel passionately about giving something back, so hopefully over the next 12 months we will be giving grants to lots of great local causes.

I really enjoy helping our students. A lot of what we do is helping them learn by osmosis

I work with owner-managed business clients from zero to £100m turnover. I see a private equity-backed business that has a management team as an extension to that owner-managed business. We want to act for them from day one until whenever they exit. I buy into the journey and want to be part of it. We've always done a lot of work with tech-based start-ups and spin-outs. There are huge opportunities for firms of our size. For example, there’s the shakeup of the audit market, as well as international opportunities arising from our Kreston Global membership, especially from a tax perspective.

A lot of my work is with UK-based companies that have overseas parents. This presents challenges, such as language and cultural barriers. You need to build trust, not just with the UK management but overseas management as well.

I'm passionate about making sure the training we give on the job is the best it can be

Staffing is, without a doubt, the single most pressing issue for accountants today – both retention and recruitment. Candidate interviews are almost sales pitches, and we are asked more questions than we ask ourselves – mostly about what it's like working here. We usually invite them to meet the team so they can see our visions and values in practice.

I really enjoy helping our students. In my role as ‘qualified person responsible for training’, I oversee their development and make sure that we provide appropriate resources. I'm passionate about making sure that the training we give them on the job is the best it can be; for example, we might get them to sit in on client meetings. A lot of what we do is helping them learn by osmosis, and I know from my experience that going in there and seeing that process helps you to absorb more information.

We are moving ever further from compliance-driven services to advisory. For this, you need to be a good communicator, able to articulate complex problems or advice in a straightforward way while ensuring that you're delivering that in a manner that our clients understand. It will always be about compliance, but that won't be what the advisers in the future do.