Interviews and Profiles

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
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