Interviews and Profiles

AI Extra

Shaun McGlade, Managing Director of SMCG Ltd, talks about his day in his own practice – from the most challenging to the most important part of the day.6amI wake up and run, cycle, some gym work or meditate. I find these to be great mental preparation for the day ahead. 7.30amShower, get breakfast and get our two children ready for school – this is the most challenging part of my day!8.45amAs my staff are working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have a Teams call to co-ordinate our day and to catch up on how the previous day’s client work has progressed. 9.30amMeeting with an accountancy practice owner. We get a significant amount of client work subcontracted to our business. At these meetings, I review the client draft accounts with the partner so they can complete the client meeting either themselves or with us present.12.30pmLunch networking meeting with a fellow accountant in Strabane. It is vital to maintain a strong professional support network which can generate client work and provide a sounding board for new ideas.2pmI have to attend a management accounts meeting with a significant bookkeeping client who has two separate businesses. This client requires quarterly management accounts to be presented to their directors with KPIs analysed and corrective action identified to help determine both companies' strategies towards achieving the overall objectives of the businesses. 4pm Review any messages left today, calls which need to be returned to clients and any issues which have arisen with the staff on client work. These can vary in nature from tax planning, compliance, bookkeeping, loan applications and many more. 5pmThe most important part of my day is the next hour. I spend this time planning the four most important things I need to do the next day. This allows me to take my thinking out of the day-to-day, realign it with our weekly, monthly and annual objectives and re-focus myself to ensure I can continue to think strategically about our business. I will often review our marketing strategies, staffing levels, cashflow forecasting, website management and other varied ad hoc issues.6pm Finish work for the day and help with preparing dinner and getting our children ready for bed – again, this can be the most challenging part of my day!8.30pmRelax with a book, play five-a-side soccer, train with my local GAA team or watch some TV to relax and unwind.10.30pmBedtime time so that I am refreshed and ready for the next morning.

Sep 01, 2020
AI Extra

You never know where the qualification will take you. Some people go into practice while others find themselves working for one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. Eoghan Fox is making the most of his career with the latter.Where do you work, and what is your position?I work in Twitter Dublin as an EMEA Tax Analyst.How did you find your way to Twitter as a Chartered Accountant?I was coming to the end of my training contract in Deloitte in Dublin, having completed all my professional exams and wasn't really sure what my next move was. A recruiter from Twitter Dublin asked would I be interested in applying for a tax analyst role. To be honest, when you get approached by a well-known brand like Twitter, it's hard to turn it down. I definitely wanted the role but knew the competition would be high – however, gaining the experience of the interview would stand to me. I went through several rounds of interviews and was delighted to receive an offer to join the company as a tax analyst once my professional contract had concluded with Deloitte. I haven’t really looked back since – I am now with the company just under a year and love working here.What did your career look like leading up to your current role?In university, I studied for a Bachelor of Commerce in UCD and then went on to complete a Master of Accounting in Smurfit Business School. I completed an internship in the Income Tax department of Deloitte as part of my Bachelor of Commerce degree and that's how I got into the area of taxation and accountancy. I worked in Deloitte for three years during which I completed my professional accountancy exams with Chartered Accountants Ireland and my professional tax exams with the Accounting Technicians Ireland. During my time in Deloitte, I specialised in advising companies involved in the financial services sector and, during my final year with the firm, focused mainly on advising aircraft leasing companies.In what ways do Chartered Accountants contribute to a company like Twitter?The role of a Chartered Accountant in the finance department is particularly important – this is clear given the amount of the team that are Chartered Accountants. As a publicly listed company, there are more stringent conditions that need to be met from a reporting perspective and so a Chartered Accountants role is very valuable. The results of the company are released each quarter and the numbers are publicly available so it’s important that they are correct. It’s good to have that understanding of the accounting side, even though my role is primarily focused on corporation tax.What is a typical day for you in the office and now working from home?Before we began working from home full time – a typical day for me would consist of getting up around 5:30am as I train early in the morning before work (either swim, cycle or run) and then cycling into the office. Luckily, I had a short commute (maybe only 15ish minutes). Once I get to the office, I usually have breakfast with my team. I catch up on what is going on in the world on the Twitter platform usually before work (and admittedly throughout the day). Due to the type of role I am in, no two days are usually the same. The Twitter Dublin office is the EMEA headquarters and so we manage the tax responsibilities for the Twitter entities across the EMEA region. Typically, we would sync with the tax team in Singapore and the US on a weekly basis to update each other on what is happening in each region – this is important as it may impact on the work in another region. We have regular interactions with our accounting teams in Dublin, but also in the US. Now that we are working from home, my general routine hasn’t really changed. It’s good to save some time on the commute but definitely miss the office – especially seeing my team and getting the benefit of having free food onsite. From a work perspective, all meetings have gone online which was a challenge at first but everyone has adapted to this and understands this is the way we have to work for the short-term.What challenged you the most when you first joined Twitter?Coming into a new work environment is always difficult. What was most challenging was adapting professional services into industry – there is a big difference in terms of the type of work you're doing but also the dynamic. The most difficult thing was trying to understand how the company operates from a business perspective but also an environment perspective. Everyone made me feel very welcome, though, and I was able to adapt fairly quickly to my new role.How has the pandemic changed how you engage with your organisation?While the pandemic has obviously changed the way we work, I think the processes and supports put in place by Twitter has allowed me to adapt to the changes easily. Some things have changed completely – for example, team meetings are now completely online, we can't meet with advisors in their offices etc. However, being online is second nature now. Twitter provided us with what we needed to work effectively from home and are constantly linking in to make sure we are handling it OK. This helped massively, to be honest. It was a stressful time for everyone back then. March feels like a long time ago.What has been the most important lesson learned to date?Don't be afraid to ask questions. I think this is important not only in my current role but in everything. Especially when you are relatively new and you are expected to ask questions – it is the only real way to learn and understand the work you do. I think it also helps build bonds with your colleagues and help you learn how people operate. Where do you see yourself in five years?This is a tough one. It's so hard to know where we will be in five years, especially with the current pandemic. I think I would love to be still working at Twitter because the team is incredible, the work is enjoyable and the environment is really positive. I would also like to own my own business in the future so may end up pivoting towards that – but in the medium-term, I definitely see myself at Twitter and in the tech industry. 

Sep 01, 2020
Member Profile

Katy Lemon, a TAS Senior in EY Belfast, talks about the day-to-day changes in her job and the much-needed wind down she gets from being a part of the Queens University Women's rugby team. 7.30AM Alarm goes off, time to get ready for work and run for the bus.  9AM In the office sorting through emails from colleagues in Manchester, and our clients and solicitors that we work closely with in Belfast and Dublin. We work with a number of different offices across the UK and beyond on a daily basis, so organisation is key to ensure nothing is missed.  10.30AM Tea break followed by our weekly team meeting where we catch up on what the team are currently working on and any potential new projects on the horizon. This is a great opportunity for learning as team members discuss how they approached and resolved issues.  12PM Client call time. We have weekly calls with our clients to progress the Fixed Charged Receivership cases we work on and determine action points for the week.  Following this its back to emails and phone calls on my cases. I work on around 20 different cases on a weekly basis across the North and South of Ireland, each very different. Through this work, we have built strong relationships with solicitors and estate agents.   2PM After lunch, I focus my time on my larger projects, mainly administrations and liquidations where I deal with employee matters. This can include dealing with redundancies, TUPE transfers, company payroll and pension schemes. I will also deal directly with employees on any queries they have through emails and phone calls, and it’s important that these are dealt with quickly.  3PM Tea at 3! We try to catch up with our colleagues at 3PM and for a general chitchat. 3.30PM My firm is encourages us to learn new skills, so I try to spend an hour every few days working towards a ‘badge’, which is an achievement in a range of different areas, such as data visualisation, inclusion and belonging, digital, etc. I’m currently working on an excel course to improve my ability to work with large data. 5PM Time to update my to do list for tomorrow with anything I haven’t finished today! Our job is different every day, so it is very common for a to-do list roll on to the next day.  6PM Home time and straight into my rugby kit to be at training with Queens for 7PM (usually in the rain). Training provides an opportunity to wind down from work and gives a much-needed work-life balance. This is also a great way to catch up with friends in the evening! 8.45PM Home from training and more than ready for a hot dinner and Netflix! 

Jun 30, 2020
Student Profile

The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives in a short amount of time. Because of COVID, all students will take their exams online going forward. Sinead Henry, one of the first Institute trainees to trail the e-assessment in 2019 and 2020, explains the process. What was your first reaction when you were asked to take part in the trial e-assessment? I was definitely nervous at the prospect of taking an exam online. My exams had always been in paper format sat in large exam halls, but I’ve now sat three online exams, and the nerves are steadily going down.  How did you prepare for the e-assessment? Was there any change in your exam prep because of its online platform? I prepared for it pretty much the same way I normally would, using question packs and past papers. In hindsight, I think I would have practised typing out the workings as it would have helped me manage time better in the exam.  What was it like to use the technology? Using the technology was fine. Our office was able to provide laptops which had all the necessary features for the exam. There’s always the element of nerves about the technology not working, but you can run an equipment check on ProctorU before the exam to make sure everything is up and running.  The strangest part of using the technology was probably getting assigned a proctor. When you hit ‘start your exam’, you must wait for a proctor to be assigned to you and it can feel like an age for this to happen. Once you get assigned a proctor, they will make sure your set up is all good. In my experience, the proctors are usually really friendly and can help if you are experiencing any technical problems.  Was there any aspect of the e-assessment that you didn’t expect? Once you get stuck into the exam, part of you forgets it is an exam, because you’re at home or in the office and not an exam hall. This is both good and bad. It’s good because you can think more clearly and you don’t get the exam panic, but also you might not feel the same kind of pressure you would in an exam hall, which could slow down your pace. So, it’s important to keep an eye on the time and keep your focus.  Also, you can see straight away how much of the exam there is in a paper exam. I would encourage anyone sitting an e-assessment to view the overview of the exam straight away. This will show you how many questions you’ll need to answer to help you better plan your time.  Aside from the fact that you took the exam online, how else was the assessment different than normal? It’s probably not that different, having the exam online is a big change on its own, but the actual content didn’t seem that different from the mocks for the management e-assessment. If anything, the questions were clearer because of how the information was laid out, and it was easier to determine what the question wanted from you and what figures and numbers you needed to take from the question or resource.  Do you think moving to e-assessments is a positive step for students? I think it has its positives and negatives. I think students will miss the reliability of an in-person exam. The worst thing that can happen in a paper exam is that you forget the information, whereas with an e-assessment you might be worried about WiFi, powercuts, or being disturbed by other people at home.   On the other hand, it means that we can still sit our exams this year and not have our qualifications moved back. As well as that, this is the way exams will probably be in the future, so it’s to our benefit to get ahead of the curve.  What’s one piece of advice you would give to students about to take an e-assessment for the first time? Try not to overthink the online element and treat it like a normal exam. If you have any technical problems on the day, they will get resolved, and you’ll be able to continue your exam as normal and be at a disadvantage. It can seem daunting and scary because it’s different but try to put that aside and focus your energy on studying for your actual exams!

Jun 30, 2020
Member Profile

Paul Cassidy, Associate Vice President of Capital Markets at SKY Leasing, gets the job done from his dining room table. 7AM: Get up and go out for my daily run. During April, a group of friends are doing a Nike run challenge of 100km. I am trailing in sixth place, so work to do! 8.30AM: I go into my kitchen/dining room which now doubles as my office. I spend the first two hours catching up on emails. With offices in San Francisco and members of our marketing team in Asia presently, there is a lot of activity around the clock.  9AM: I have a quick catchup with our CFO to finalise our reporting to our debt facilities and our shareholders for quarter-end.  9.30AM: A request-for-proposal (RFP) for a sale and leaseback from a North American airline has come in overnight which has been assigned to me for completion. At SKY, we prepare intrinsic value cashflow modelling to price aircraft. I prepare the model and the maintenance forecast for this package of aircraft and circulate to the origination team for evaluation and discussion.  12AM: Pick up some lunch and take a walk in the Phoenix Park to get some fresh air. Take this chance to call a friend or family for a chat.  1PM: The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be what some are calling the 'greatest challenge to aviation in its history'. There are a number of webinars that provide real-time updates and provide useful insight during these rapidly changing times. I jump on a webinar for an hour while catching up on emails and macro news.  3PM: I receive a call from our Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) about the RFP. We discuss the merits of the transaction, he provides me with some market intelligence and we try to triangulate what a winning bid might be. I make some revisions to the cashflow modelling and recirculate to the origination team.  3.30PM: We have our weekly marketing call where originators and capital markets teams give updates on the ongoing campaigns and transactions. We evaluate the merits of the transactions and discuss and set action items for each.   5PM: The daily capital markets call starts and we discuss the capital market team’s workload.  6PM: We have been selected by an airline to advance to the second round of a sale and leaseback bidding process. The second round will require submission of a ‘Letter of Intent’ which I begin drafting and loop in the required teams.  7PM: My girlfriend and I get to making some dinner. With a little more time on our hands than usual, we’ve been trying some advanced dishes! Results are mixed. 8PM: Our CEO and Executive Vice President of Capital Markets have reviewed the initial price for the North American Lessee transaction, have some queries and would like to prepare scenario analysis based on a deferral arrangement or a haircut to the proposed lease rentals too. Our proposed bid meets our investment criteria and we finalise the economic terms of the bid, sending to our CCO for transmittal to the airline.   8.45PM: My girlfriend and I sit down and watch some Netlfix, which can’t produce new shows fast enough for us. We debate whether we should get Disney+!

May 01, 2020
Student Interviews

Ciara Woods, a third-year audit associate in KPMG, knows what it’s like to take the lead, be it of auditors or student societies. 7.15AM I leave the house around this time every morning and commute to the client. When I arrive at their office, I set up my laptop and review my emails. Sometimes, as my role as Chairperson of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Student Society Ulster (CASSU) Committee, I have meetings to attend first thing in the morning. 8.45AM All of the team have arrived. We grab a coffee together and create a plan for the day ahead. This includes the testing we wish to complete, any meetings or discussions arranged with the client and any coaching required. Following this, I focus on my tasks for the day. As a senior associate on an engagement, this involves more discussions with the client and management on the progress of the audit, organising the team, ensuring the work will be completed on time and completing the more complex areas of testing.  11AM Coffee break! 1PM The team usually take lunch together. Most days, I bring in a prepared lunch.  1.45PM I get stuck back into my tasks set out for the day.  5PM  Before the team head home for the evening, I discuss with each member of the engagement how they have got on. I collate a list of any outstanding items with the client, any work that was not complete in the day and discuss the team’s possible problems. When I have gathered all this information, I create a plan for the following day – reallocating tasks as required.  6PM  I leave the client site and head home. On some occasions, I will have meetings to attend in my role as Chairperson of the CASSU Committee including those for the main committee of Ulster as well as a monthly meeting with the CASSU Committee.  7.30PM Following dinner, I turn my laptop back on and review any correspondence received in respect of CASSU or Chartered Accountants Ireland Student Societies Ireland (CASSI). I create a list of action points and priority items. When I complete my tasks for the evening, I liaise with Emma, the Chairperson of CASSI, and the CASSU team as appropriate. 8.00PM  I go to the gym or spend time with family and friends and switch off for the evening.   If you’d like to get involved with CASSI, contact info@cassinetwork.ie or any of its social media accounts – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Mar 02, 2020