I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and graduated in 1993. I applied to Deloitte in my final year at university but I knew I wanted to take a year off after I graduated to improve my language skills and so I applied for a deferred placement and joined in 1994. In my year off I was an au pair for three months in Germany and then worked in French speaking Switzerland in Verbier for the winter ski season, returning for the summer season.
The thing that most appealed about joining Deloitte was the valuable ACA qualification. I knew I wanted a career in business and I had had a couple of work experience opportunities and vacation jobs in finance, so the ACA qualification appealed. I applied to the audit division as the aspects of team work, varied projects and the range of different clients attracted me. This proved to be a great training ground as I worked for clients of different sizes and in different industries, including telecoms, oil and gas, manufacturing and marketing organisations.
I also worked on a couple of due diligence assignments and also several internal audit assignments. The thing that appealed about these internal audit assignments was that they were a lot more operational in nature and got me out of the ‘finance’ function – I was talking to client staff in procurement, the warehouse, HR, sales and really getting to understand how the business worked from the ground up.
I was also given the opportunity to manage a European internal audit client in my fourth year with the firm and was responsible for coordinating all the services we provided across Europe. This took me to various cities including Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Paris, Milan, San Francisco and Houston. I’ve done a lot of work for retail organisations including Safeway, Boots, and Dixons and am currently running a large controls project in Munich for a global multinational.
I never stop learning and experiencing new things here at Deloitte – my role has continued to evolve and challenge me – you learn something from every experience, even if it isn’t what you were expecting to learn.
Advice for those entering consultancy
I believe that my success is due to the determination to do your best – find what you enjoy doing and then work hard at delivering the best you can to clients. I think you need to genuinely like the people you work with and enjoy working with them – my advice to my staff is get on with your clients, be interested in their business, and have fun with your colleagues – and that you need to set high standards and commit to delivering the best quality services to your client that you can every day.
Being promoted to partner at a young age is definitely one of the main ones. I’ve also really enjoyed my time at several clients – particularly Safeway and Boots – as I love shopping! And the overseas travel too – alongside travelling throughout the UK I’ve also worked in Sweden, Norway, other parts of the US, Mexico and am now spending four days a week in Munich.
You never know what you’re going to get out of a career experience and the next project you get involved with – go in with an open mind and you’ll probably be surprised as things rarely turn out exactly like you expect them to.