Fiona Langan, Cara Pharmacies Limited

Tell us about your academic background?

I completed my Hons degree in Finance in Sligo IT. The course was 4 years and accommodated for students who did not study accountancy for the leaving cert, which was applicable to me.

Why accountancy? 

I wanted to be accountant, because I knew I wanted to work in business. An accountant is a role that is required in every industry and so you have flexibility to find the right fit.

Why Chartered Accountants Ireland?

Chartered Accountants Ireland came to the open days and spoke to the finance class about the accountancy body and spoke about the Flexible Route. When we were about to graduate the recession was very much present and it gave confidence that there would be opportunities to do my training.

Can you explain the Flexible Route to someone who doesn't know what it is?

The flexible route allows you to study and work in any company in any industry. The work experience and exams can be done at different stages depending on personal circumstances.

What are the advantages to working and studying?

You genuinely are putting the technical material into practice. This gives you a better understanding and more confidence when you are completing tasks that could be scenarios in exams.

Where have you worked and what kind of roles have you been in?

I worked in fund accountancy before moving to Donegal in 2009 to work in a US multinational where I worked on their pension funds. Whilst there I went back to do the Chartered qualification and exams. This helped me to move to the finance area within the company where I worked as one of the company accountants for 2 years. Then in 2017 I got the opportunity to join Kearney Naughton & Co as a partner in a busy accounting practice. This allowed me to join a growing practice and to re-locate back to my home town of Roscommon. Without the Chartered qualification this would not have been possible.

Describe a typical day for you? 

This is dependent on what week in the month. My role typically involves KPI reporting, sales analysis, payroll preparation and monthly management accounts for the financial director to review before the board meeting.

How was combining work and study?

This is challenging, especially around the audit. Working late and then trying to study and keep healthy. It is only temporary and all the hard work does pay off once you have qualified.

Can you see how someone who is not an accountant might benefit from this qualification?

I think there is a level that you can achieve without being qualified. If you want to progress to a more senior management role, you do need a qualification. Management want assurance, that the person in charge has the capacity to manage the finance function of the business.

Would you recommend the Flexible Route to others? Why?

Yes, I would recommend this route; you still have to complete the work experience required by the Institute that covers all areas in finance. Working in small and medium sizes companies gives you exposure to all areas of the business, including operations and company strategy.

What advice would you give someone who is considering the Flexible Route?

Go for it! You need to be committed to doing your study as well as working full time. Planning and organising are essential to find the right balance, as there is only so much study that can be done after work. 

What success are you looking for?

What I’m looking for is to continue reporting to management producing meaningful information that contributes to the decision making process.

What are your future goals?  

I think I would eventually like to be more involved in company strategy and business development. And also still be involved in finance. And possibly further study with the diploma options available.