Interviews and Profiles

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
Student Profile

John Summers started out his career at the K Club, swerved into O’Brien’s and has now ended up in corporate finance, proving that any path you start taking can lead you to become a Chartered Accountant. The feeling I experienced the day I received my FAE results was one of the greatest feelings to date. A wave of relief was quickly followed by excitement and this immense sense of personal accomplishment. The culmination of four years of hard work creates much anticipation for the start of a promising career as a Chartered Accountant.  Unconventional start My road to becoming a Chartered Accountant is far from the ordinary. Having studied Applied Golf Management Studies at the University of Birmingham, I achieved a Bachelor of Science degree. As an avid golf player and fan, the course seemed like a natural fit for me and its varied subject matter from sports psychology to metallurgy and materials science, in particular, appealed to me.  When you’re unsure of what you want from your career, it can be difficult to choose a specific path. Much of the course involved coaching and finance while also touching on the commercial side of running a golf club. With an enjoyable and character-building experience under my belt, I graduated as a professional golfer and followed my cohort into the world of teaching, starting at The K Club in Kildare.  As I had completed the first three Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualifications and had a growing interest in wine and spirits, I began working for O’Brien’s Wines, using this time to focus on what I wanted. As my parents run their own successful businesses, I started to come around to the idea of entering a graduate program with a finance firm. I decided to join Beechwood Partners as a Tax Trainee.  Passion for numbers  During my time at Beechwood, I fully immersed myself in the world of finance. Specialising in the personal tax affairs of high-net-worth individuals, I learned to value the importance of positive client relations and how to communicate effectively and efficiently. The opportunities I was given in financial analysis and reviews were invaluable. I started to enjoy this side of the business and realised where my passion lies.  Pursuing my goal in investments and corporate finance, I took a leap and joined Baker Tilly and EIIS Management, as a corporate finance trainee and analyst for the Goodbody EIIS Funds, respectively.  A world of opportunity  Almost four years on and I’ve never looked back. I am enjoying the role now more than ever and much of this is attributed to the opportunities afforded to me by Stephen McGivern, Partner of Corporate Finance and the corporate finance team. From the outset, I have gained first-hand experience in many exciting and often demanding corporate finance transactions. From restructuring and refinancing a whiskey company to the financial analysis and sale of a food manufacturing company, I have really enjoyed financial modelling assignments and valuation projects. Balancing work, study and life  In addition to being surrounded by helpful, trusting and experienced colleagues at Baker Tilly, it’s especially refreshing working with market leaders in the EIIS sector from whom I have gained a wealth of invaluable knowledge.  The supportive nature of the firm around exams and exam leave really helped remove some of the pressures associated with the syllabus. Being the only person in the firm doing FAEs that year brought its own challenges. However, under the guidance of other newly qualified staff members – who provided plenty of useful tips – I kept my head in the game.  Leading up to the exams, studying filled the gap in my days. It can be difficult trying to achieve the elusive work-life balance. When you factor in exams, there are days it feels tough. For me, developing a detailed study plan and a consistent routine worked wonders. While many students prefer to study early in the morning, my preference was to study in the evening, often staying in the office after hours to learn theory and go over case studies.  Future success After celebrating my exam results, my future quickly shifted into focus. What was the next step for me?   I’m really appreciative of how my firm handled my qualification. Shortly after my results, I discussed my professional development with Stephen McGivern and signed a new contract as a Manager in Corporate Finance. This nod from management drives me to continue developing my skills.  My advice to trainee Chartered Accountants? Find what study routine works best for you as an individual and stick to it. There’s no magic secret to success; just hard work, discipline and self-belief. Believe that, irrespective of the path you take, you will get there. Also, always ask questions! The lecturers, other students and qualified members are all there to help you succeed. If you are currently pursuing your qualification with Chartered Accountants or are considering it for the future, recognise that the hard work will ultimately reap plenty of rewards as you set out on a career. It is all worth it.

Mar 02, 2020
AI Extra

Since Touchtech was acquired by Stripe in 2019, Joe Kinvi ACA has been enjoying the customer interaction and team collaboration at the company. 9AM I get to the office at this time every morning and I head straight to our canteen for breakfast. I grab a juice and a light breakfast depending on my mood while I catch up on my emails and Slack messages that I didn’t reply to on my commute. 9.30AM I review previous meeting notes and action points to prep for my daily 10 AM meeting with my team. As an account manager, I work closely with our technical project manager (TPM) and our integration engineer to ensure our clients’ asks are answered and executed timely. I check our customer dashboard daily for any downtime or overnight issues worth flagging to our TPM or directly to our engineers. Today, and 99% of the time, everything is working smoothly. Yes! 10AM I hold our daily stand up to discuss any upcoming calls, ongoing integration for new customers and pending work for existing customers. It can as short as five minutes and as long as 15/20 minutes depending on the day. We try to keep it very informal but ensure that we touch on anything that happened the previous day. This meeting often shapes what my day will look like. 10.30AM Productivity time! I have two hours this time blocked off in my calendar every day to focus on customer asks. I try to keep my meetings to the afternoon and to work without any interruption for at least an hour or two in the morning.  12PM  I head to lunch with my team. We all tend to grab lunch together in our canteen. We are very fortunate to get a free, healthy lunch at work with lots of options so just like my day-to-day, lunch is never the same!  1PM I’m usually in back-to-back meetings with existing customers to discuss ongoing projects, renewals, upsells, etc. Since being acquired in April, there are so many moving pieces and this gets me excited to be part of this company.  When I’m not working on customer projects, I’m working on internal projects within Stripe. I’m currently working on a business integration project that I am enjoying because it allows me to interact with various parts of the organisation and get to work with so many talented and equally motivated individuals. I enjoy working at Stripe because we are empowered to shape our future at the company. 4PM I reserve this time for calls with our US colleagues but it’s often open so I get to review my meeting notes and action points if needed. I catch up with our TPM and integration engineer to discuss anything that came up in our various meetings throughout the day. 5PM I update my account manager tracker for our weekly meeting every Friday with our manager. At this weekly meeting, we discuss ongoing projects status and customer satisfaction.  I complete any outstanding work and updates my calendar for the next day. 6PM I wrap up my day and head back home to work out, play football, hang out with my partner or help my brother with his startup. 

Jan 13, 2020
Student Profile

Patryja Jurkowska talks to Accountancy Ireland Extra about her highlights from the One Young World Summer in London, and what she plans on doing in the year ahead. What was the first thing you did when you got to the One Young World (OYW) Summit? When I arrived, I met with other Chartered Stars from around the world, arranged by Chartered Accountants Worldwide. It was a truly incredible experience. I loved hearing their stories and achievements. We bonded as a team very quickly and had an amazing week together. We plan on collaborating with each other in the future.   Of the speakers, who were you the most excited to see and why? I was very excited to hear from Mary Robinson. As the former President of Ireland and a climate change activist, she is someone I look up to. She has so much energy and passion for doing good for our planet. It is contagious.  Did you come away from the OYW Summit with any goals for the future? Absolutely. I came back from the OYW Summit inspired to do even more in areas like: responsible consumption and sustainability; climate change; and spreading awareness about the other pressing issues such as clean water, access to education, poverty and hunger. And, because of the amazing work done by Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, one of my goals is to ensure that the organisations I am involved in put disability on their leadership agenda.  What were the highlights from the summit? The opening ceremony was certainly one of the best parts of the summit. The Lord Mayor of London, William Russel, Ellie Goulding, Sir Bob Geldof and Meghan Merkle, the Duchess of Sussexwere highlights for me. During the parade of flags, we witnessed representatives from 190+ countries, including a refugee representative to recognise the large refugee diaspora around the globe. I must say that the moment where the representatives from South Korea and North Korea held hands on stage to embrace peace was truly emotional and received a standing ovation.   Another key highlight for me was speech from one of the delegate speakers, Dalia Yousiff, who, together with other young citizens of Sudan, had a huge contribution to the recent resignation of Sudan’s former president Omar Al-Bashir after 30 years of dictatorship by risking their lives to broadcast the reality of the regime. What did you take away from your few days in London? Business as usual is not an option. What struck me during the summit was the urgency of climate change and the role that we all should play in addressing it. I couldn’t agree more with Michael Izza, Chair of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, who said, “We must recognise the interdependence of the health of the planet, the health of society and, therefore, the health of the business. There will be no prosperity or well-being on a dead planet. The accountancy profession can and should play an important role in addressing this issue.” It was also important to acknowledge that we’re blessed to be born and raised in countries where human rights exist; where there is access to education and a free press. We often take our rights for granted but there are still so many countries where they are seen as a luxury. That’s exactly why we should take action to help those less fortunate. Lastly, I learned you’re never too young to lead and one person can make a difference. During the summit, we heard from many young people who, despite going through some tremendous challenges, have evolved into great leaders creating positive change around the world. As the Chartered Accountants Young Chartered Star, what do you hope to accomplish in the next year? My aim is to organise several events and write various articles to help members of our profession understand the urgency of the climate crisis and the key role that we can and must play in ending it. Again, I wholeheartedly agree with the words of Michael Izza who said, “Our members in business, and as advisors to businesses, have a fundamental responsibility – that is to ensure that the health of our planet becomes companies’ responsibility. Finance professionals and Chartered Accountants are problem-solvers, and what bigger problems do we face than the climate crisis?”

Jan 13, 2020
Student Profile

Niall Fitzgerald FCA, Head of Ethics and Governance at Chartered Accountants Ireland, details his day as the ethical touchstone in the Institute. 6.15AM It’s still dark outside and the pitter patter of rain is softly drumming against the bedroom window. I am invited to speak at a breakfast briefing on governance in sporting organisations this morning, so the alarm went off earlier than normal. My usual review of LinkedIn, Twitter and online news over porridge is replaced with run through of what I intend to cover at the event and the realisation that I am not a morning person in the winter. 7.45AM As I step into the room, I brush off the morning raindrops. It’s typical that my nerves strike just five minutes before I am to speak, but knowing there are some “friendlies” in the room helps. By the end of the talk, I’m relaxed and realise that everyone has the same burning questions, so I hang back for a little while to enjoy the one-on-one discussions. 10AM It has stopped raining as I head into the Dublin office on Pearse Street to tackle emails and today’s workplan.  11AM I meet a member who is a non-executive director on a few boards. We go for coffee in Café di Napoli to discuss a dilemma she is facing on one of them. One of the highlights of my job is engaging with members involved in governance or senior business roles. They work across every sector and in various industries. It is very satisfying to serve as an independent and confidential sounding board to them.  12PM It’s time for a team meeting to review progress on one of the projects we are working on. The meeting goes well with some deliverable outcomes. Everyone is clear on the next steps.  1PM I am off to Grand Canal Dock to have lunch with some of my colleagues from a course I did in University College Dublin (UCD), Diploma in Corporate Governance, some years ago. I make a mental note to do this more often. 2.15PM Time for my afternoon marathon of tasks. As my role also involves embedding and co-ordinating activities relevant to business ethics and governance across the Institute’s operations, I work with different teams in several departments. This afternoon, I am meeting with the Life-Long Learning and Continuous Professional Development team to assist forward planning of governance events. After that, I meet with the Communications team to discuss our involvement in the global Edelman Trust survey on the accounting profession. My last in-house meeting is with the Professional Standards department to discuss a project we are working on to consult with the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA). 5PM I head over the Liffey to the Institute of Banking for yet another meeting, this one regarding behaviour and culture in the financial services sector. 6.15PM Back to the office for a final sweep of emails. I head home once this is done. Tomorrow is another, but entirely different, day.  8PM An unusually late return home from work so I forgo the usual walk or trip to the gym with my wife. Instead, I head for the kitchen and begin preparations for dinner. Dinner is an important event in our house and gives my wife and I quality time to catch up (through English and Spanish) on the highlights of the day and talk about friends, family and just life in general.

Nov 05, 2019
Student Profile

Fiona Smiddy ACA, Founder of Green Outlook, a eco-friendly ecommerce shop, is running a one-woman business with an ethical approach. 8AM I start my day with cereal and check emails and my business social media. The reaction to yesterday’s TV appearance promoting my business has been great. I check my ecommerce site, greenoutlook.ie, Google Analytics and run site updates. I also check my business bank account. As a self-funded business, cashflow is very important.  8.26AM Ding! First sale of the day. 9AM I normally work from home (in a tracksuit) in Kildare, but today I’m heading to Dublin to visit a corporate customer and do a pop-up shop. I review the presentation I’ve prepared and check the news for any climate crisis items. The Amazon is on fire. I share the news on social media and take note to mention this later at my presentation.  9.30AM I double check my float for today and put the boxes of products and props I’ve pre-prepared for a pop-up shop in the car. 11.30AM I arrive, check in and get set up. 12PM The pop-up shop kicks off. It’s all go and I have a queue of customers.  1PM The sales and questions are flowing. I try to remember to drink water.  2.45PM I pack up, do a rough calculation of sales and deem the pop-up a success. I grab a snack and check my emails.  3PM I start my talk. I talk about the climate crisis, the problems with single-use plastic and plastic waste.  4.45PM I leave Dublin. Wow, the traffic! I’m definitely glad I’m not commuting on a daily basis. I use this time to listen to a podcast and eat another snack. 6.15PM I arrive home and make a quick video for my social media.  7PM I’m on the couch and the TV is on. There’s something relevant so I share it on social media.  8PM I haven’t eaten a meal since breakfast so I make and eat a vegetarian dinner with my boyfriend. 9PM My boyfriend’s watching Netflix so I pull out my laptop. Since I started my own business, I don’t really power down from work until just before bed. I tell myself it won’t be like this forever but right now I process all elements of the business by myself.  11PM  A quick plan of things to be done tomorrow: I’ve got some invoices to pay, applications for markets to complete, two posters to make for upcoming events, social media posts to prepare. I have orders to get ready and bring to the post office. Right now, I fulfil all orders myself, but I’m in the process of looking at fulfilment partners. I want to apply for a female business mentorship programme to help me put better structures in place as the business grows.  ...I also want to get to the gym tomorrow as I didn’t go today. 11.30PM  A final review of online sales for today. It’s good but not great. More work to be done but it can wait until tomorrow.   

Sep 02, 2019