Working in audit with Deloitte, and captaining the Cork Ladies Football Team, Ciara O’Sullivan talks about balancing your work with your passion.
When did you start playing football and how did you end up on the Cork team?
I started playing football with my club Mourneabbey when I was under 8 and when I was 11 I went for Cork under 14 trials. I was lucky enough to make that U14 panel and have been playing with various Cork teams since then. I have been a member of the Cork senior team for the last 9 years and this is my second year as captain of the team.
How does your intensive training schedule for Cork compare to your training to become a Chartered Accountant?
I must admit I enjoy training with Cork a little bit more than I enjoyed studying for the exams! I think both take discipline and organisation and I actually think they complement each other. During study leave for my CAP 2s and FAEs I really looked forward to going training after studying for the day and although sometimes I was tired before training, I always felt better after it. It’s great to give you a focus other than the exams and work. It’s also always something to talk to clients about when you’re on site as a lot of clients in Ireland have some interest in GAA!
Does your work as captain on the field help your work in Deloitte off the field?
It’s not something I’ve ever actually thought about but I suppose it does. I’ve been very lucky to be part of this Cork team who have so many leaders, so in some ways being captain is just a title. I’m just the one who goes up for the toss or gets to collect the cup if we win. Everyone helps each other and it’s all about the team. It’s the same in Deloitte, particularly as I work in audit where in general there are a number of people on the audit team. Again everyone helps each other and it makes the job much more enjoyable and efficient. I’ve made great friends on both the Cork team and in work and having these friends who are in the same boat as you helps a lot.
What has been the best moment of your career as the captain of the Cork Ladies football team?
It would have to be winning the 2015 All-Ireland final. It was against Dublin again and like in previous years we just about won. The closer the game is the more you appreciate the win when it’s over. Lifting the cup was unreal… the speech that followed definitely wasn’t unreal!
What’s your advice for other trainees who juggle the heavy commitment of both their career and passion?
I would say that it’s totally achievable to do both, if you want to do it enough. Obviously I know I’m lucky that work accommodate me where they can so that I never miss training. I think that once you are organised and like doing something enough you will make it happen.
For more advice on getting started in your career and balancing your life, read gradireland’s advice section.
Cathy O’Donohoe of Pluto, official partners of gradireland, has compiled some tips on why your need to make you display truly stand out and represent something that can align with the values of the graduates you are seeking to attract.
Every exhibitor recruiting at a graduate recruitment fair has a ‘cut-through’ challenge. How does your corporate brand resonate in a room full of graduates, with dozens of other brands competing for the exact same talent? Exhibitors need to excite to attract. Large corporations need to examine what attracts a graduate to an exhibiting employer, when so many other doors are potentially open to explore in the very same room. Given the number of years that an employee can invest with an employer, graduates need to feel that a potential employer has brand values that align to their own. Those values need to be aspirational, current and relevant. At the very least, the basic design of the stand needs to be current and ‘on –trend’, given the multitude of brands that graduates and students are exposed to through various mediums and platforms on a daily basis. Time and time again, corporate employers invest in taking space at graduate recruitment fairs but don’t invest in updating their stand – often taking out something that was used previously and merely dusting it down. If the stand isn’t exciting, the perception will be that the opportunity for employment with that company isn’t very exciting either. Graduates should leave your stand incredibly excited about the opportunities that the journey ahead may bring them, should they choose to invest their future with you. To invest in a space, without investing in the stand design, can be potentially lethal for an employer brand.
The strong trend for design in 2017 will be led by the following key influences: Scandinavian touch, steel and wood, theatrical elements, geometric imagery and mesh and Lighting. So what do these mean?
- Scandinavian touch: Continues to influence design. This trend includes light pastel hues, strong colour accents, clean and light wood, mix & match furnishings and a general sense of playfulness.
- Steel and wood: A box section & feature wood cladding dominates this trend.
- Theatrical fun: Creates a tangible zone for customer interaction, such as installing a single feature piece.
- Geometric: Creates immediate modernity with seamless patterns creating depth.
- Mesh and lights: Stands out with opaque lighting features, abundance of mesh types and the use of mesh partitions.
For more information about what Pluto do, click here.
Caitríona Lonergan is a third year Actuarial and Financial Studies student in UCD who spent her summer participating in the 10-week Assistant Trader Internship with Susquehanna International Group (SIG). We caught up with Caitríona to find out what working in SIG is really like.
How did you find out about SIG?
SIG sponsors the Actuarial Society in UCD, which I am a member of, so I knew the name but I initially didn’t know much about SIG’s business. I then attended a SIG careers talk on campus that explained the company a bit more and outlined the different career options available to me.
What makes SIG different than other organisations?
I think the main difference between SIG and other companies is the focus placed on education. We spent a lot of time in the classroom at the beginning of our internship, learning about trading from the ground up. There was no assumed level of knowledge about trading, which was good as we didn’t exactly study it in college! I also love how much emphasis is placed on applying poker strategies to trading; when I first started, I hadn’t played poker very much but now I can play quite well, and have learned a whole new way of thinking!
What do you like best about working in SIG?
I really enjoy the atmosphere and the sense of community in SIG. We are always working together and sharing ideas; it really helps to have such a varied mix of intelligent colleagues around you to bounce ideas off of. I like that there is always something to do. I’m never bored and I enjoy the work, which makes the day seem shorter. I also love the variety of people who are working at SIG; people travel from all over Europe to work here, so it’s clear that SIG is highly regarded across a number of countries.
There is a lot of talk about teamwork and collaboration at SIG. Where do you see this demonstrated in your current role?
Our projects have been carried out in pairs, so I have been working closely with another one of the interns for the whole summer. I have also met with traders and the head of the index arbitrage desk, all of whom have helped with any questions I have had. The atmosphere is very supportive; whenever anyone has a problem, there can be up to four people willing to help out!
What inspired you to choose this career path?
Trading is a more exciting, dynamic career path than some of the alternatives in the financial area. The work I am doing is challenging, but I enjoy the sense of risk and reward. We also get to see the impact of our work in real-time. Even when things don’t go exactly to plan, we learn so much from the outcomes, and this helps us to further hone our strategies.
If you were speaking with someone who was considering the Assistant Trader Internship with SIG, what would you tell them?
Definitely do it! SIG is a unique, dynamic place to work where you will never be bored. The education programme not only sets you up to work in trading but everyone in SIG also supports you in developing your skills.
What is your favourite thing about living in the Dublin area?
There is always something to do in Dublin, whether it is a concert, a festival, or a new restaurant/bar to try.
Finally, if you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to time travel. It is almost like having lots of superpowers at once when you consider how much you could alter and change.
Both SIG’s Assistant Trader Internship and Assistant Trader Graduate Programme are currently open for applications via the SIG website. SIG also caters for work placements ranging from 3-12 months in duration.
Trainee chartered accountant Jamie Ashworth gives us insight into his choice to pursue a career in finance with Crowe Horwath
Could you provide us with a summary of how you became interested in a career in the financial sector?
The financial sector represents the heartbeat of business and commerce worldwide. I have always had an aptitude for numbers and accountancy in particular so the financial sector has been a natural area of interest for me. Finance in Dublin in particular is thriving at the moment and makes it even more appealing to me.
Accountancy services are required by business of all sizes, from sole traders to listed multinational companies, and this diversity was a key factor in my choosing to pursue a career in accountancy.
How did your degree contribute to you getting a place on the Crowe Horwath programme?
I feel my degree contributed hugely to me getting a place on the Crowe Horwath graduate programme. Although I did not study accounting directly, a background in economics provided me with problem solving skills applicable across the financial sector. In my opinion this was particularly important for the Crowe Horwath graduate programme as it involves working on different projects all the time, with no two days being the same
What’s been one of the biggest challenges of coming through the Crowe Horwath graduate programme and what did it teach you about yourself?
One of the biggest challenges for me was adapting to the professional environment. After an initial training week, I started in the office and I was immediately immersed into projects and assigned projects. Of course attached to these projects were deadlines. While I found this daunting at first, I soon learned that asking questions and gaining experience is what was expected of me and this enabled me to work faster and more efficiently on subsequent jobs and tasks. Each job has a learning curve and I have been given the opportunity to work on many different assignments in the last year which has increased my knowledge immensely. Next year I hope to gain more experience and take a more senior role on assignments.
How difficult was it striking the balance between work and CAI studies?
For me, the switch from college life to working full time and studying with Chartered Accountants Ireland was challenging at first. A day in work from nine to half five followed by a lecture in the evening does require commitment but once you get in to a routine it is not as daunting as it first seems and it is worth the sacrifice. I found going to lectures and taking the information in first hand from the lecturers benefitted me when it came to studying for the exams. All materials for lectures are available through the online portal in advance of the lectures and this does allow for a degree of flexibility in studying.
What advice would you have for students and graduates seeking to pursue a similar career path?
- To give your full commitment to both work and studying from the beginning and to try and find a routine that suits you while doing that.
- To enjoy the free time that you do have and to make the most of well earned down time.
- Not to be afraid to ask questions and to make the most of the experience that senior colleagues share with you.
How do you hope to see your career developing over the next few years?
I am one year into my training contract and I have passed my CAP1 exams. I hope to pass the CAP 2 and FAE exams over the next two years, while gaining more experience and finish my training contract in April 2019. After that I might travel and work abroad for a year or two. Being a chartered accountant is a qualification that is recognised globally and offers people the opportunity to apply their skills worldwide.
Crowe Horwath is one of the leading accountancy firms in Ireland, and is the representative firm in Ireland of Crowe Horwath International, one of the top ten global networks of independent accounting and advisory services firms, a worldwide group of independent accountancy firms with 726 offices in 125 countries with some 31,000 staff worldwide. They offer graduates the opportunity to train to become a Chartered Accountant.
Check out their recruitment brochure (pdf) for more details.
Lidl’s approach to the training and development of graduates is training from the ground up and it is this approach which has led to my successful career in Lidl. At the beginning my programme I received a detailed training plan which outlined what the next 18 months were going to look like for me. Graduates start as store assistants and progress through every level in store up to Store Manager and Area Manager so you fully understand the company’s business model before you begin your Head Office role. To support each stage of my learning, I had detailed checklists which outlined what skills I need to learn at each level and this clarity ensured that I met the expectations of a graduate.
As a graduate, you are never sitting still for too long and over the 18 months you work in up to 12 different positions throughout the business. This role diversity allowed me to see where my strengths lay and also put opportunities for roles in front of me that I hadn’t previously considered. For me, I found my strengths in Learning and Development (L&D) and on the back of the work I completed in this area I was offered a position as Junior Project Manager in the L&D team. Within two weeks of being in the role I was given the opportunity to launch Lidl’s biggest ever training initiative, the Store Management Development Initiative (SMDI), to over 700 people from across the business at a two day launch event in the Convention Centre. It was a project which I had worked on while on the graduate programme and despite only being fresh off the programme, I was still trusted with the responsibility to deliver such an important message.
After only 18 months into my Junior Project Manager role, I am now moving on to a more senior role of Training and Development Manager. The exposure and experience which I gained on the Graduate Programme has definitely lead to this promotion coming so soon in my career. Having spent time in store I fully understand how our operations work while working on large scale projects like SMDI has developed my project management and communication skills. There are very few graduates programme who succeed in having their graduates as well rounded and experienced in such a short time as Lidl do and for anyone who is looking to drive their career forward, Lidl is the place to do it!
Meet the Lidl team today at our Graduate Careers Fair!
My name is Róisín. I am a Graduate Process Improvement Executive at ARI (Aer Rianta International), part of the daa group. I studied Global Business and Spanish at DCU. As part of the course I spent two years studying and working in Spain and carried out two internships during the four years. I am passionate about working in a global, dynamic and innovative environment so I knew ARI would be the right match for me.
AER RIANTA INTERNATIONAL
ARI is a subsidiary of the daa. Over the years ARI has grown from strength to strength and is currently one of the most significant players in the travel retail industry. ARI operates and manages duty free and duty paid retail stores in 14 locations around the world from Canada to India all the way to New Zealand. ARI is best known in Ireland for The Loop in Dublin and Cork airports.
Innovation lies at the heart of ARI and staying ahead of the trend is priority. ARI has won a number of prestigious awards including Retailer of the Year and Best Speciality Concept for Candy Cloud and the Irish Whiskey Collection.
As a graduate, this is a very exciting time to work with ARI as it expands its global footprint opening new retail stores in Abu Dhabi, Indonesia and Muscat over the next two years.
Travel retail is a great area for newly qualified graduates, it’s fast paced, competitive, global and innovative. No two days in the airport or the retail industry are the same and the travel retail industry is certainly no different!
My role as a Graduate Process Improvement Executive at ARI involves working on all aspects of a strategic business transformation programme which aims to achieve best in class retailing and a common approach across our many different locations and cultures.
From day one at ARI I have had the opportunity to get to work on an array of exciting global projects that will benefit the entire company. For example, this year I have been working on creating, implementing and rolling out globally, an internal interactive video hosting platform where ARI employees from across the globe can watch, learn and interact with training content on-the-go to enhance their product knowledge. Projects and innovative initiatives like this allow ARI to ‘create an outstanding shopping experience every time’.
Many ARI graduates have had the opportunity to travel to, and work across ARI’s global locations such as Canada, Bahrain and New Zealand. I myself have had the wonderful opportunity this May to travel to our stores in Cyprus. It’s great to get a sense of how our operations work overseas and even better to meet the great people who are running them. Gaining an insight into Cypriot culture was certainly a bonus too!
APPLYING TO THE DAA
ARI is not the only subsidiary of the daa with a global reach. daai (daa International) currently manages and operates Terminal 5 of King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This year, two current daa graduates have taken the opportunity to relocate to Riyadh and join the daai team.
The daa hires graduates across all areas and functions of the airport such as operations, strategy, finance, human resources, marketing, security and asset management. If you like the sound of a career at daa or ARI please apply online at www.daa.ie/careers and submit your CV by Monday 24th October 2016.
Following my penultimate year on Erasmus, I decided to undertake an internship in order to help to choose my future career path. From the first contact I had with PwC (heading into a phone interview from Belgium I didn’t know what to expect) the genuine friendliness and approachability of the people is what has always and continues to stand out. For me, the quality of people, from both a work and human perspective, is the defining characteristic of PwC. After gaining first-hand experience of this it was obvious that I would be returning to PwC as a graduate.
Following the internship I decided to undertake the Masters of Accounting in Smurfit Business School. Sponsored by PwC, this afforded me the opportunity to complete a masters with friends from college as well as a network of new friends and colleagues from the summer internship. It also provided me with exemptions from the CAP2 (A.C.A) and Part 1 (A.I.T.I) exams which, subject to impending results and a final set of tax exams, should allow me to qualify as both a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor within 3 years of commencing work.
Coming back as a graduate in September 2014, I re-joined the Banking and Capital Markets (“BCM”) team, a unit within the Financial Services channel in Tax. Seeing familiar faces on the floor and around the office helped make the transition seamless. As with all jobs there a learning process, however at PwC this doesn’t stop. As an assistant during the first year you prepare work with the support of your coach, appraiser, buddy and quite frankly anyone on the team who you’re willing to ask a question. As the year progresses you are afforded autonomy and responsibility, reporting directly to Managers, Senior Managers and even Partners where appropriate. Once the new year comes around new co-ops will arrive, followed by interns during the summer and before you know it a new intake start in September.
During my second year I have become increasingly engaged in the aircraft leasing industry. Although challenging, it is fascinating to work and be engaged with some of the most influential people in such a dynamic and unique industry, the global centre of which is located right here in Ireland. Providing day to day advice to the largest aircraft lessors in the world, I have been afforded a unique opportunity to gain international tax experience. The experience I have gained from being exposed the scale, frequency and urgency of transactions exhibited by the industry is invaluable.
As well as providing domestic and international tax support for the aircraft leasing industry, my team is extensively engaged in the securitisation industry. I have gained incredible experience working in an industry of such large scale which is also primed to go through a period of significant change following the recent publication of draft legislation by the Minister for Finance. The opportunity to be involved in the transitional period emanating from these new changes is both challenging and exciting.
Despite the demands of work, when you join the firm it is clear that your primary focus is on successfully completing your professional exams, be they tax, accounting or otherwise. Initially it can be stressful trying to balance both work and study; however, the support that is on offer within PwC will soon enable you to strike the right balance. I genuinely believe PwC’s support network, consisting of both formal and informal structures, is unrivalled, and factors such as the combination of in-house exam support workshops, in-house training, extensive study leave and colleagues who are readily available to lend a hand, make exams that bit more manageable and ultimately, make PwC a great place to work.
Meet PwC at the Graduate Careers Fair www.graduatecareersfair.com to learn more.