Suzie Arbuthnot, PGR Accountants Limited

Tell us about your academic background?

I went to Queen’s University Belfast to study Food and Nutrition but changed to Joint Economics and Management after 1 year.

Why accountancy? 

I didn’t actually want to become an accountant, during university my lecturers advised me to do the accountancy modules but I refused to do them as I didn’t want to become ‘a boring accountant’! I started my accountancy journey when I was 25! I started from CAP 1 as I didn’t have exemptions with my degree (but I would have if I listened to my university lecturers!). 

Why Chartered Accountants Ireland?

I started on the graduate programme with BDO NI and started the 3.5 years training contract with them in audit. I left after 2.5 years as I was offered 2 industry jobs which I felt was a better path for me in the long term.

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

The flexible route is totally at your own pace. I self-funded my flexible route path from when I started in industry.

What are advantages to working and studying?

It helped me balance my work life balance as I was able to split my modules at CAP 2 level. 

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

I have worked in many industries and roles. I’ve worked as an assistant accountant, finance and operations manager, business advisory and accounts manager. I’ve worked in a children’s service provider, stock market linked hospital equipment manufacturer, youth charity, freight forwarding company, back into an accountancy practice and now I’m self-employed.

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

This qualification has helped me in a number of different ways and has helped opened doors to jobs which would have never been open to me before.

Would you recommend the Flexible Route to others? If so, why?

I was able to carry on with my life and keep it on hold. Yes I did take 8 years to complete my qualification but within that time- I got married, bought our family home, got a dog and a cat, and had a baby. 

What success are you looking for?

I’m now self-employed and without this qualification I would not have been able to make this step for my family and be comfortable.

What are your future goals?

I’m just taking the next couple of years at a slower pace as I want to enjoy my 2 young children, after that I can ramp up my hours and probably go back into industry or practice.