What did we learn at our recent Rising Stars event?
On a recent Thursday in September, after a two-year absence, iMultiply held their annual Rising Star event at the fabulous Bonnie & Wild in Edinburgh – and it was great to see so many people in real life!
What was it all about?
The evening allowed some emerging talents from the Accountancy and Finance sector across Scotland, to spend the evening listening to the career paths of four senior Finance Professionals – and we all heard some really inspiring and thought-provoking stories from those speakers on the night!
Our first guest speaker was the Chief Finance Officer of Emblation, Fraser Robertson. Emblation, launched in 2016 is a global leader in medical microwave technology, with a focus on radical innovation in the treatment of HPV infections, dermatology, cardiology and oncology. A fantastic business which is certainly keeping Fraser on his toes!
From the starting point of being ‘strong with numbers’, Fraser knew A&F was what he wanted to do however he didn’t want to follow the conventional path into practice – so during this talk he took us all on a bit of a journey of his career path.
Fraser spoke about his start on the Graduate programme with RBS, then on to his time with Diageo, which allowed him to be more involved in the commercial side of finance. After 3 and half years with Diageo, Fraser’s next move took him to Edinburgh Airport as a senior finance business partner, and then into senior operations out with Finance, allowing him to develop his skill set for his move to Emblation. It was really interesting to hear about this journey that didn’t include a stint in accountancy practice.
Our next guest was the fabulous Jen Given, COO of Float cashflow forecasting. Float is an award-winning operational cash flow forecasting add-on for various financial software systems. However, Jen shared with us that at University it was Science rather than numbers that was Jen’s passion, going on to do a PhD at St Andrew’s University.
But with a close friend securing a placement at PWC, Jen got the idea of a career in finance, soon securing a role at Henderson Loggie in Dundee, where she had a fantastic time starting in the accounts prep team and then moving onto the CA training programme. Jen developed a passion for the analytical side of finance (perhaps due to her scientific background?), getting to review and understand how businesses worked.
Jen’s first move into industry was in Group Reporting at British Gas, however, Jen shared very openly with us that she realised fairly quickly that the world of a large corporation wasn’t something that really excited her. Jen’s next move saw her spend 2 years at John Menzies in a more commercial role, and this role gave Jen the experience to move to Optos as Group Accountant. A cool Aims listed business, after 2 years the CFO moved on to a new project with Touch Bionic, and approached Jen to move with them. This saw Jen move into a Financial Controller role with a new business, allowing Jen to build the finance team from scratch. After 4 years with Touch Bionic Jen had the opportunity to move into her first Group Finance Director role with Cash Master, which after a successful 18 months saw her move into the positions of COO & CFO, refining her skills and getting her ready for her current role as COO of Float.
Next up from the world of Practice was David Shadwell, Partner at Chiene & Tait. Chiene & Tait are an independent firm of Chartered Accountants with a heritage of over 130 years working with a variety of clients. David’s Career started in practice with Deloitte, where he trained and refined his skills for 4 years, after which David joined Moore Stephens in the Isle of Man for almost 10 years progressing to Partner.
In 2012 David took the opportunity to move to New Zealand initially for 5 years with Deloitte NZ where he became the youngest ever partner. And in David’s 13 years in New Zealand he has had various roles and got involved in some amazing projects, such as being the leading Partner in the NZ pension fund, being involved in the Earth Quake Commission and a $32 Billion insurance claim. David’s career saw him move back to Scotland in 2020, where he joined Chiene & Tait, where he successfully heads up the CT Evolve advisory team.
Finally we had the pleasure of Enoch Adeyemi, an FCCA-qualified accountant, senior contractor and Founder and CEO of Black Professionals Scotland, an organisation that helps empower Black Professionals and Students, partnering with organisations in order to support their DEI ambitions.
Enoch, talked us through his journey and the challenges he has faced in his career by being different. Enoch’s career in finance started with a six-month role as an Analyst with Heineken, before he then moved into the world of Financial Services, where he has been ever since; 5 years with Kames Capital, 12 months with Lloyds and 2 and a half years with Sainsbury’s Bank, saw Enoch build on and refine his skill set. At this point Enoch decided he wanted more and made the change into the world of contracting, a decision he has never looked back on.
Enoch touched on the challenges he has had throughout his career, and his outlook:
- “If you don’t like it change it”
- “Be fair, be different, be yourself”
- “We are only here once, do what works for you”
And what did we all learn?
Each of our speakers, took us through the highs and lows of their own career, which really demonstrated that regardless of how successful you are, you will face challenges along the way, and it is about how you embrace those challenges.
After hearing from each of our speakers, we took questions from our guests, which varied from, “studying and getting your qualification, is it worth it”, “Do you have to complete them all back to back”, “how can you get more from your role” and “how can you challenge your manager”.
Each of our panel members took time to answer, and gave their opinions and perspectives from their personal experience – and a number of attendees mentioned to me afterwards how interesting the stories were, but also how valuable it was to hear the speakers answer real questions afterwards as well.
Many thanks to all our fantastic speakers for giving up their time to speak to the next generation of A&F trailblazers, and indeed thanks to all our guests for coming along and hopefully learning a little in doing so.
How about me?
The main thing I took from the evening is:
There is no right or wrong path to get to where you want to go. So embrace the journey, do what’s right for you and be able to tell your own story!
Written by Richard Bruce.
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