Sinead Fox, Ulster Society Young Professionals Group Chairperson & Business Manager for McKinty Associates Recruitment:
Tell us about your background?
I went to St Patrick’s Girls Academy in Dungannon and was fortunate enough to do very well in my GCSE’s and A Levels so it meant I had a good choice of courses I could choose to study at University. I decided to study Law at Queen’s in Belfast but realised along the way that a legal career perhaps wasn’t for me. I always had an interest in business (I had worked in the local shop since I was 14 and got a taste for it) so I was keen to try and follow a more commercial career path. I didn’t ever have an innate desire to become a Chartered Accountant as such; it was only when I began to take the time to learn more about the qualification that I realised it was a practical and promising route to take. I perhaps thought doing Accountancy meant you had to be a ‘traditional Accountant’ and to be honest I couldn’t picture myself enjoying that type of role but I since realised it opens so many doors and really gives you a footing into many sectors and is a solid foundation for business in the wider sense. So for me it was the ideal fit and I set my sights on pursuing same.
Outline your career to date?
After graduating I joined KPMG Belfast as a trainee Chartered Accountant and worked within their Advisory department between the Corporate Finance and Public Sector Consultancy teams. Since qualifying I’ve had a few career changes which have included working with Bombardier as a Commercial Financial Analyst and then working for Ulster Bank as an Assistant Relationship Manager. In 2014, I then moved to McKinty Associates as a Business Manager and my role here is a mix of Finance and Recruitment Consultancy work.
Tell us about your qualifications/training and why you chose Chartered Accountancy?
Truth be told I fell into the Chartered Accountancy route following a chance attendance to a KPMG careers seminar that was being hosted in University. It was only at this session that I realised that students from all disciplines were eligible and were indeed encouraged to consider the route; the fact I was a Law student did not discount me from applying – all it would mean was that I would have an extra level of exams to sit. This session motivated me to explore further and my research confirmed that the qualification was indeed highly regarded and would certainly provide a solid basis for any future career choice. I also liked the idea of working and studying in tandem so that I could add value to my CV in a practical professional sense as well as academically. So I was sold from that point on and I put an application in straight away and the rest, as they say, is history! My qualification route then involved 3 levels of annual exams and a 3.5 year training contract so I appreciated from the outset that it would be a big undertaking as balancing a day job along with study is no easy feat and it proved just that. Training as a Chartered Accountant is demanding but it’s been very much worth it.
For you, what is the profile of Chartered Accountants in NI and what sectors do they work in NI?
Chartered Accountants are very highly regarded in NI. Working in Accountancy and Finance recruitment now I can see first-hand just how well thought of Chartered Accountants are. Employers (across Practice, Industry, Financial Services and Banking to name but a few) have great respect for the qualification and often seek out same when hiring.
In your opinion why do Chartered Accountants get to the top of their career path so quickly?
In my opinion the training offered by the Chartered Accountancy route is of such a high standard that those who qualify are of a sound professional calibre and as such are well positioned to advance in their careers of choice.
How did you transfer the skills you acquired from training as a Chartered Accountant to your role in the recruitment industry?
As I work in a specialist Finance and Accountancy recruitment business, there is a direct link. I am able to use the skills and knowledge from my training and previous roles to really understand both client and candidate requirements and this has proven really beneficial for me. I can relate better to those I am trying to help because I’ve had first-hand personal experience myself in the sector.
What advice would you give to someone considering chartered accountancy?
It’s a qualification I have no hesitation in recommending – in fact I do all the time to candidates I speak to through work and in my own separate personal capacity also. I really am passionate about the brand and promoting Chartered Accountancy as a career. I happily endorse the route to both those who have a focus on becoming a traditional Accountant and to those who perhaps have a more general interest in Business and Finance as it will act as a solid springboard for both. It really is a fantastic qualification to have and it can open many doors. What I do tend to add is that it is a tough path and really does require a lot of focus and commitment so it is important that people apply themselves 100% to the study and training.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of my personal time involved in a number of Chartered Accountants Ireland related committees (Young Professional Group (as chairperson), Ulster Society, Member Services, Chartered Accountants in Business Group, Young Leaders NI (as chairperson)) and I have to admit to really enjoy partaking in them all. I delight in organising events and getting people out socialising and networking so being involved in the various committees and chairing the Young Professional Group and Young Leaders NI committees are actually my hobbies and I love encouraging people to attend and get involved. Arranging various social and business events throughout the year is my favourite thing to do. In the remainder of my spare time I enjoy spending time with family and friends and I also am a volunteer dog walker with Assisi Animal Sanctuary with my husband Steven (who coincidently is a Chartered Accountant too – how cliché indeed).
Who has inspired you most in your life?
I would probably have to say my Dad. He is a country man and from my childhood I saw his honest hard work every day so he taught me the importance of working hard in achieving success. He is a firm believer that if you want something you should go and earn it and that we should not expect anything to be handed to us on a silver platter. He also lives very much in the here and now and would always encourage me to take each day as it comes and not to get stressed about those things outside our control or that are unimportant in the whole scheme of things.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I love to act and I spent my school years partaking in various festivals and productions but when I went to University I just got away from it all. So now, after 12 odd years of being out of the limelight, I’ve rekindled my love for the stage and recently joined Belfast’s Belvoir Players Studio and am now enjoying being back treading the boards!
copyright – NI Jobfinder
Interested in starting your studies this year?
Register your interest now
For practical information, key dates and salary updates, invitations to events and stories about how the Chartered qualification has opened up opportunities for people like you, simply complete your details today: