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Your career pathway

Isabelle Cairns, Chartered Accountant, EY

What skills are important to be successful?

A lot can be said for strong interpersonal skills. Whether you’re entering a graduate programme or the working world after college, you have a lot more skills than you might think. If you were involved with societies or held down a part-time job while studying, having those sort of skills is quite important. As a trainee accountant you need to balance studying while working. Other important skills are problem solving, thinking on your feet, leadership and initiative. If you can demonstrate those, they are very strong skills to portray.

What supports does the institute provide?

Charted Accountants support us with a really strong education team that provides all the materials we need to study. I find it better than college; you have everything you need to study, prepare for and pass the exam. The lecturers are extremely helpful. You can email them with any queries, even coming up to exam time when I’m sure they receive millions of emails. Knowing the support is there is really reassuring.

What advice would you give a first year student?

If I were to give myself advice I’d actually just advise myself to plan ahead, to think ahead. You can maximise your learning experience when you move into the graduate programme when you’re studying the ACA qualification. If you choose accounting modules while you’re in college it can then give you exemptions when you go to study and work at the same time, which will give you more time and ease up the whole process.

What career paths does a chartered qualification open up?

The opportunities are quite vast down the chartered route. Once you have an ACA qualification there are endless possibilities. It’s quite common for people to move from practice to industry. You see chartered accountants working in Google, Kerry Group, all these big global companies. Some people choose to stay in the same firms, having already built up a good rapport with the people they’ve been working with. They climb up the ladder in a practice and could make partner. Also if people want to use their qualification to set up their own business, they have an excellent skill set with which to do so.

What other paths can chartered accountants pursue?

A really attractive part of the qualification is how it allows you to travel. The institute has a network of bodies all over the world, so you have opportunities to work in Australia, America, wherever you want. That’s really appealing to me. It’s also very versatile. The skill set you develop with this qualification enables you to work in a variety of forms of business. I would like to get involved in the food and agricultural business down the line and I know with my qualification that I can do that.