Spotlight

Members in sport

Apr 01, 2019
Students and members share their thoughts on the crossover between Chartered Accountancy and elite sports.

Dan Morrissey

Hurler with the Limerick senior team and Chartered Accountant/Chartered Tax Adviser at Deloitte.

How did you get involved in sport?

My parents encouraged me to play all sports when I was young and I was playing in the local GAA club once I could walk. I played GAA, soccer, rugby and golf when I was growing up. Hurling was always my favourite sport and when I was 16, I decided to focus solely on hurling. I’m still a keen fan and keep a close eye on all sports.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

I’ve been on the Limerick senior hurling team for the past six years and I’m very fortunate that my employers (Deloitte) allow me to find a great balance between work, study and sport. I’ve been completing my Chartered Accountancy exams over the last couple of years and there were times when I was very busy between work, trying to make training in the evening and going to lectures at weekends. I make a plan at the start of every week and month so I know exactly what I have planned for each day.

How has sport influenced your career as a Chartered Accountant?

The discipline you acquire from sport and the ability to pick yourself up and stay positive after a poor result are characteristics that have helped me in my career. I’ve also met so many business contacts through sport, which has been a great benefit to me.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

Last August, I was wing back on the Limerick senior hurling team that won the All-Ireland championship for the first time in 45 years and I also won an All-Star award for my performances over the course of 2018. The celebrations of winning the All-Ireland had to be cut short, though, as I sat my FAE exams the week after beating Galway in the final (I passed, thankfully). Winning an All-Ireland and passing my final exams in such a short space of time was a very proud period for me.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

On the sporting front, I would love to win another All-Ireland medal and continue playing for Limerick for as long as I can. On the career front, I’m currently working in the taxation department in Deloitte’s Limerick office and I really enjoy the challenge. I hope to continue using both my ACA qualification and Chartered Tax qualification to progress further in my career. 

Caitriona Jennings

Olympian, long-distance runner and Head of Tax at Goshawk.

How did you get involved in sport?

I’ve been involved in sport from a very young age, as my parents encouraged myself and my two sisters to participate in all sorts of sporting activities. There was very little choice in my home growing up – my sister Sinead is also an Olympian and a former rowing world champion.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

Organisation is key to striking the right balance. I plan for the week ahead at the weekend, determining when and how I will fit in my scheduled sessions. It’s also important to know when to ease off training when work is extremely busy, as not doing so will lead to injury.

How has sport influenced your career as a Chartered Accountant?

I have developed many traits through sport such as resilience, ambition, drive and passion. These have enabled me to take on challenges that might otherwise seem unachievable. It has also developed my sense of self-belief and I now know that hard work leads to success.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

My proudest sporting moment was qualifying for the Olympic Games in London 2012 and representing my country in the marathon. It’s difficult to isolate one moment in my professional career, but key achievements include becoming a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Adviser.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

I’m keen to broaden my experience within the aircraft leasing industry. My sporting goals are currently secondary to my career goals, but I love running so I will continue to train and compete nationally and aim for another podium finish in the Dublin Marathon in 2019.

Louise Coffey

Irish golfer and Associate Director in Grant Thornton’s tax department.

How did you get involved in sport?

There are a few golfers in my family so my mum arranged for me to start golf lessons when I was 12. From the first lesson, I was hooked.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

My firm (Grant Thornton) has been great. They have allowed me to alter my 37.5 hour weeks so I can play in the Tuesday morning competitions in my club or get another long practice session in mid-week. During the season, it all comes down to forward planning and anticipating upcoming deadlines so I can prioritise my work.

How has sport influenced your career as a Chartered Accountant?

Being a female golfer really helped raise my profile from the very start of my career. Senior staff tended to recognise me because of my golfing activities, so I was regularly picked for work tournaments. This gave me the chance to show my drive and determination and ultimately helped accelerate my career.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

My highlight is representing Ireland in 2016 and 2018 – I worked hard not to sacrifice my career aspirations and in 2018, I was proud and delighted that those career aspirations were realised when I joined Grant Thornton, where I head up the corporation tax compliance service line. 

What are your future sporting and career goals?

I want to continue to be a high-performing Irish amateur golfer, but both my career and golf remain important from a personal perspective. As a golf4girls4life ambassador, having both helps me show young girls who are interested in the sport that they can have both a good career and achieve their sporting objectives.     

Niamh Halton

Cavan footballer and Senior Associate with PwC’s Business Service Recovery team.

How did you get involved in sport?

I come from a very small village in Cavan and to be honest, there isn’t a lot to do other than play GAA. My family is very involved in the local GAA club so I was always around the football pitch from a very young age.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

I have my training schedule six weeks in advance so it’s really about discipline. Obviously, things get busy in work and study can get pretty intense around exam time but I make a study plan for each exam and try to work around my training commitments.

How has sport influenced your career as a trainee Chartered Accountant?

Sport takes a lot of commitment and dedication and for me, accountancy is the exact same. Sport has given me insights into working as part of a team; it has taught me to have patience and to always respect those around me. These traits can transfer into any profession, but especially accountancy.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

My proudest professional moment was being selected to join the PwC graduate programme. Working in such an understanding and welcoming environment is the reason I’m able to continue playing sport while studying. My proudest sporting moment would probably be captaining my club team – these are women I grew up with and are my best friends, so to be selected as their captain was a huge honour.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

My sporting goal is to keep playing at the highest level and hopefully collect some silverware along the way. My main career goal is to pass my FAEs and become a Chartered Accountant. Who knows what life will have in store after that!

Martin Quigley

Former Wexford hurler and Partner at Martin Quigley & Co. Chartered Accountants.

What are the key aspects of your sporting career?

I played hurling for Rathnure and Wexford at all levels, winning 10 Wexford club championships and five Leinster club titles with Rathnure. With Wexford, I won a minor All-Ireland in 1968, three Leinster U21 and three Leinster senior titles. I received four All-Star awards in a row from 1973–1976. I also represented Wexford at football and won a minor Leinster football title in 1969.

What is your proudest sporting moment?

Wearing the purple and gold jersey for 20 years at senior level, winning my first All-Star award, playing in Croke Park on All-Ireland Sunday and winning 10 county championships with my club Rathnure were all very proud moments.

How did sport influence your career as a Chartered Accountant?

When I set up my own practice in the early 1980s, the profile I gained from my sporting career was certainly a help at that time.

What was the best lesson you learned on the pitch?

Some of the most important lessons I learned included discipline, work ethic and attention to detail. Without these traits, it’s impossible to succeed at a high level on the sports field or in business.

Whose sporting leadership do you most admire and why?

Former GAA president and Chartered Accountant, Peter Quinn, is someone I have admired for his leadership and vision in revamping Croke Park into the world-class stadium we have today.

Paul Gleghorne

Olympian, Irish international hockey player and Senior Manager, Corporate Finance at HNH Group.

How did you get involved in sport?

My parents and two brothers were heavily involved in sport, so I naturally followed suit and played a range of different sports at local clubs and at school. I loved playing sport, so most of the time I spent in the classroom was spent thinking about playing sport.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

I compete with and against professional sportspeople who don’t work outside of their chosen sport, so it can be difficult to fit in the required training. It means lots of early mornings and late nights, but I have an amazing support network around me. My hockey commitments can sometimes mean extended time out of the office for training camps and tournaments, but I receive incredible support from my employers, HNH Group, which makes this possible.

How has sport influenced your career as a trainee Chartered Accountant?

I’ve learned so many skills through sport, from time management to teamwork and effective communication. I also believe that from a general well-being perspective, it’s very beneficial to have pursuits beyond your working life.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of my sport, so competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is something I look back on with pride. Working in corporate finance, every time a transaction is completed is also a very proud professional moment for me.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

My next major sporting goal is to qualify for and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. From a career viewpoint, my immediate goal is to get involved in more and more corporate finance transactions.

Síonna Healy

Current Irish champion in coastal rowing and Audit Senior at JPA Brenson Lawlor.

How did you get involved in sport?

I have been involved in sport all my life from Gaelic football to hockey and coastal rowing. I come from a sporting family, particularly my father, who was a huge influence while I was growing up. He was always heavily involved in playing and coaching over the years.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

At the moment, I leave Arklow at 5.30am for a gym session in Dundrum. After work, I do a water session and a long rowing session on the weekends. At the weekend, whenever I don’t have class, I train.

How has sport influenced your career as a trainee Chartered Accountant?

Rowing rewards determination and effort, which has taught me to continue striving to do better. This has influenced my career to date as when challenges arise, I endeavour to overcome them.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

Becoming the number one coastal rower in Ireland in the ladies singles was a proud moment, but my proudest was finishing eighth at last year’s World Rowing Coastal Championships.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

To retain my title as Irish champion, win the Welsh Open for the third year in a row and qualify for the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Hong Kong. In my professional life, I am focused on qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in the near future.

Sean Cavanagh

Former Tyrone footballer and Managing Director at Sean Cavanagh & Co. Chartered Accountants.

How did you get involved in sport?

My father was an avid sportsman and played Gaelic football and soccer, so I grew up watching him play and spending evenings on the side-line during trainings. Growing up in a family of three brothers, and with a healthy competition to everything, sport was the natural fit and still is to this day.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

Time has always been sparse for me since I was a child – I played Gaelic football, basketball and soccer at quite high levels for local teams so there wasn’t an evening or weekend that I wasn’t doing something. So from an early age, I learned to be clinical with my time and I tend to squeeze a lot into my days through serious discipline. 

How has sport influenced your career as a Chartered Accountant?

The traits I’ve attained from sport have been invaluable to me both in doing exams and working as a Chartered Accountant. Team environments teach you that everyone has a unique set of skills and it’s vital that you take the time to assess whether those skills are being utilised in your current role.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

My proudest sporting moment was winning an All-Ireland title with my home club, Moy Tír Na nÓg, in February 2018 at Croke Park surrounded by friends and family. Starting my own practice in February 2017 and watching it grow has been, and continues to be, my professional highlight.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

I’m the kind of person who always wants to improve and help others achieve while enjoying the journey. So far, I think that has been the case but I’m optimistic that the future will be even better.

Chloe Watkins

Irish international hockey player and trainee Chartered Accountant at Mazars Ireland.

How did you get involved in sport?

My family are very into sports – my sister plays and coaches hockey, my Dad and brother have both played hockey for Ireland and my Mum played badminton but is now a converted hockey expert!

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

I had to balance hockey throughout school and college, so I’m used to managing my time. I train in the early morning and late evening, so it never clashes with work. The main challenge this year will be balancing leave for the Olympic qualifiers with study leave.

How has sport influenced your career as a trainee Chartered Accountant?

I’m very much at the beginning of my accountancy career, but I’ve learnt a lot about working within a team and group dynamics from playing sport at a high level. I’ve also had to learn to push myself and deal with adversity.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

At the World Cup in 2018, we won the silver medal and I earned my 200th international cap in the World Cup final. It was a massive achievement for us as a squad; we were competing against countries with professional programmes, so we played far beyond our ranking. Signing my training contract with Mazars and starting the Chartered Accountancy qualification was also a special moment for me as it’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

I want to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 with the Irish team. I’ve been involved in two Olympic campaigns since 2010 and narrowly missed out in both, so hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky! I also hope to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in the future.

Eddie Hoare

Galway footballer and Corporate Finance Associate at DHKN Chartered Accountants.

How did you get involved in sport?

My involvement in Gaelic games began at a very young age through the Community Games. In 1993, our local parish competed at U10 level, winning the All-Ireland series.

How do you balance your sporting and professional lives?

Efficient time management and effective planning are key when juggling a busy professional and sporting life. I’ve also been very fortunate in that my employers, DHKN Chartered Accountants, have always afforded me the flexibility to do both.

How has sport influenced your career as a Chartered Accountant?

Competing at an elite level in any sport requires a high level of commitment and self-discipline. These traits have been fundamental for me in becoming, and now practicing as, a Chartered Accountant.

What are your proudest sporting and professional moments?

On the field, one of my proudest moments was representing my club in Croke Park in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club final. Unfortunately, we lost the game but it’s an occasion I will always cherish. Another notable moment was making my senior inter-county debut with Galway in 2008. On a professional level, my proudest moment was being inducted into Chartered Accountants Ireland as an Associate Member in 2012.

What are your future sporting and career goals?

In 2019, I will become a partner in Hoare Chartered Accountants. The firm is run by my mother, Mary Hoare FCA. On the pitch, I look forward to stepping into semi-retirement and getting involved in underage coaching with my local club.

Donal Courtney

Former international rugby referee and independent non-executive director.

What are the key aspects of your sporting career?

I played rugby with CBC Monkstown and Monkstown F.C. until injury struck in 1991. I then took up refereeing at the age of 27.

What is your proudest sporting moment?

My first time refereeing a Six Nations game, which was Wales and Scotland in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – a day I will never, ever forget.

How did sport influence your career?

Decision-making is key as a referee; the ability to make judgements in a short period of time under pressure. Another is how you deal with people; it’s important to have clarity in your messages to players and be able to deliver these messages in a non-confrontational way.

What was the best lesson you learned on the pitch?

The ability to communicate under pressure. The best communicator in world refereeing is Nigel Owens. He remains calm, knows what he’s going to say, how he’s going to say it, and he has empathy with players when he needs to, but also players understand where the line is.

Whose leadership do you most admire?

Munster’s Anthony Foley, who passed away a few years ago. I once appointed a young English referee to an important Heineken Cup game between Munster and Montauban. It was his first Heineken Cup game. Munster didn’t get the bonus point they needed but Anthony rang me and told me he was very impressed by the young referee. Anthony understood that, like him playing for Munster or Ireland, he had to be given his first game. That was the man that Anthony Foley was on and off the pitch – a true leader with empathy.