Debbie Somorin, Senior Associate, PwC
How did you get into your job?
I got into PwC through my degree and Masters in DCU, which I got into through the DCU access programme for young disadvantaged children to be able to access universities. There are a number of different ways you can go about it but the way that appealed to me was doing a Masters and a degree, so I did a degree in Accounting and Finance in DCU and then I did a Masters. That got me CAP1 and CAP2 qualifications so when I joined PwC all I had to do was my FAE exams. You get a year off from exams the first year you join and then do them in your second year. It's an amazing experience because you get lots of study leave. I passed my exams and I'm now in my third and final year of my training contract.
What skills are important to be successful?
One main thing is just being efficient. You need to be able to prioritise and have lists because at times you could have different audits ongoing at the same time and you need to be able to prioritise and not get overwhelmed when that happens. One thing I really like to do is make lists and be able to go through it that way. You also need to be quite resilient at times, particularly when you might need to do longer hours. You need to be able to stay focussed on your main goal of getting your qualification and your long term career.
What supports does the institute provide?
There are lectures, which are great, and also online lectures if you can't make it because you're working late. The lecturers are a great resource. When I was doing my FAEs I was able to ask the lecturers if I could send them a case study to look over. We have case days where they go through the cases with you for FAEs. They also have tutorials when you're doing the CAP2s. They have mock exams, which are a great way to have an exam simulation before the real thing because it can be quite daunting, especially if you come from a Masters background and haven't been in an exam hall with so many people before.
What advice would you give a first year student?
You need to be able to stay focussed on your goal and what you want to get out of the Chartered Accounting qualification, which sets you up for whatever you want in life. When you're doing your final Accounting exams you're doing modules in Business Leadership and all these other amazing things like IT. It's the best thing to give you a foundation for whatever you want to do for your future career. You need to be quite resilient. Even when times are tough and you have lots of exams to study for, stay focussed on your goal. You also need to be efficient because college courses can be quite tough and you have a lot of exams and assignments, and you need to be able to balance all of those things efficiently. You'll have that same challenge when you go into work.
What are the benefits of obtaining the chartered qualification?
One is definitely being able to travel. I know friends who are going to Australia to use this qualification. It doesn't mean you necessarily have to work in an office for the rest of your life as it gives you the skills to be an entrepreneur. It gives you access to senior people you would not be able to meet anywhere else.
What other areas are you pursuing?
I started the Hope Ireland project in January. It's a project that's very important to me because I had a son when I was 15 years old. When I told my story about how I had my son and stayed in school and how I was homeless when I was 13, the support I had was amazing and I really wanted to have more young people and parents following the same path I had. I started this project to be able to give young parents the two things that they really need to be able to do that, which are accommodation and childcare. The project is going to buy an apartment building and give at least 10 families accommodation there under the Dublin City Council rental income scheme. We're also going to have childcare on the ground floor and that's going to be run by Karen Clince, who is the CEO of Tigers Childcare. It's an amazing project. It's going to help change that poverty and homeless cycle that young parents get stuck in. I'm very excited about it.