In my role at Canterbury Christ Church University, I work to shape the next generation of accountants: the leaders of the future. As programme director, I overhauled our curriculum to ensure we are allied with the ACCA syllabus, embedding equality, diversity and inclusion and leadership training. As a consultant with Advance HE, a member-led organisation that works to improve higher education, I am part of the governance team, working as a leadership consultant. I am passionate about education, given the profound impact it has on individuals and society. And as a non-executive board member, my interactions are with fellow directors with a focus on governance.
My career has been wonderfully varied. I have worked with an array of blue-chip organisations in the public and private sectors, across a range of industries in Ireland and the UK. I now have a portfolio career involving a number of diverse roles, so no two days are the same.
Pitching to a crowded room was terrifying but showed me the power of clear and honest communication
Throughout my life, I have advocated for social justice. I believe that if we can, we should help those who, through no fault of their own, have been dealt a difficult hand. I like to lead by example, believing that each of us can make a positive difference to our world. As accountants we can always add value.
I volunteer as the chairperson of a local charity, The Fifth Trust, which supports adults with learning disabilities. The charity needed to raise almost £2m for new buildings; using my previous experience, I identified a VAT saving of around £250,000, and the redevelopment is due to be completed early this year.
In my various roles I have mostly been surrounded by incredibly talented and ambitious people. An early success was pitching a new product to a crowded room within a month of joining the organisation. It was terrifying but showed me the power of clear and honest communication. Another success was delivering a Sarbanes-Oxley implementation for the UK operation of Credit Suisse Asset Management, and then being deployed to New York the week before Christmas to rescue the US project. And as chair of the finance committee at Cross Keys Homes, I was proud to be a member of the team who retained the highest rating from the social housing regulator.
My advice to a young accountant starting out is to actively manage your career. Take time to get to know yourself and trust your instincts. Work with an experienced mentor to help you develop and to identify opportunities. Find a sponsor who will champion you and support your career success.
Away from work I run a little, including a half marathon to fundraise for The Fifth Trust. My most recent run was a charity 5K with friends dressed as Santa Claus! Tai chi is a new experience, but nothing beats catching up with friends.