Search for

Top guns

3 May 10

The next generation of CAs have taken their qualification as a launch pad for a diverse range of positions, both in the profession and in the business world. Richard Goslan profiles some of the brightest prospects in the CA community

by Richard Goslan

KATE BAKER, Wingrave Yeats

Working at Wingrave Yeats in London, Kate says no two days are ever the same. As a newly qualified CA, she is involved in all aspectsof the business, from new client tenders, media lunch-club meetings, marketing and tax investigations, through to statutory accounts and audit. Kate says: “I wear the CA badge with honour after the hard work and total dedication given during my training period – it makes all the hard work and late-night study sessions worth it.”

Kate is also chair of CAPELLA, the ICAS student society, which was recently voted Student Body of the Year in recognition of the diverse programme of events it organises, both social and career-focused.

She is also planning a sabbatical trip to a school in Kathmandu, Nepal, to perform a financial health assessment of the charity before travelling across parts of Asia. She ran the London marathon last year, raising £4,000 in the process, which has helped to inspire her to her next challenge; training to swim the Channel by relay next summer.


MARK BARRY, Symphony Corporate

Mark Barry, an associate director in Symphony Corporate, is one of the youngest operators in Scotland’s turnaround market.

Through supporting Symphony’s investee companies and providing advisory services to a wide range of companies, Mark has developed expertise on a range of corporate finance activities and created value for investors, lenders and stakeholders through cash management and operational restructuring.

Mark says: “The excitement of working at Symphony is the diversity of the tasks and the frenetic pace of activity. Working at board level, effecting company-wide change programmes in tight timescales is a tremendous challenge.”

Initially studying law, Mark qualified with KPMG in 2005, working with the restructuring team throughout the UK on financial advisory assignments for businesses facing debt and cashflow problems.

Outside of office hours, Mark enjoys golf, football and is currently training for his second half-marathon.



Craig is a director in Deloitte’s financial services audit practice and was one of firm’s youngest directors, having been promoted to that position at the age of 29. He spent his early career serving large listed companies. Specialising in financial services from 2002, Craig has extensive retail banking and capital markets experience and is the lead audit director for RBS, managing a team of about 50 people. Craig also leads the treasury assurance practice in Scotland.

Craig lives in Edinburgh with his wife and 15-month-old son. Not afraid of a challenge, Craig has completed both the Caledonian Challenge and the Rob Roy Challenge twice in recent years.



Judith wonders if being born on 5/6/78 meant she was predestined to be an accountant. Her head for figures helped her achieve a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Glasgow, before qualifying as CA with KPMG in 2003. As part of her CA exams, Judith was listed second in order of merit at TPS level and fourth at TPE level.

She was promoted to senior manager at KPMG in 2008, and as part of its Emerging Leaders Programme she has recently travelled to Switzerland to work with other emerging leaders across the European practice.

Judith runs quality control for Scotland Audit and was finance manager for Scotland Audit until last October. She works on UK GAAP, IFRS and US GAAP clients, giving her a large network of foreign office contacts as a result. It’s not all glamour, however – Judith says her worst trip was to Oulu in Finland, where she had to eat reindeer two weeks before Christmas.

Judith’s motto is that the glass is always half full. “I love my job and want to encourage others to feel the same,” she says.



Francesca had already completed a law degree before settling on accountancy, going on to train with Andersens/Deloitte in corporate tax.

She then joined the Enterprise Risk service line performing internal audit assignments and process reviews for a variety of clients.

She moved into financial services in an accounting projects role at Abbey National, and joined Morgan Stanley’s Glasgow office in 2005, where she has performed a number of roles. Francesca is now vice-president, Global Funding Controllers, where she manages the Bank Resource Management Controller team.

It provides support for units involved in the financing of the business, including elements of balance-sheet substantiation, profit and loss reconciliation and involvement in the different initiatives under way as a result of market conditions and associated regulatory regimes.


LEE EVANS, Ernst & Young

Lee graduated with a first-class honours degree in Accountancy and Finance at the Warwick Business School, and then qualified as a CA with Ernst & Young in December last year, with first-time passes.

As an assurance executive his responsibilities now include client liaison, project management and audit in areas with complex accounting treatment.

For the current year, Lee has been vice chair of CAPELLA and helped spread the CAPELLA word out to the English regions, where CA students are situated, to ensure they have opportunities to network with fellow CA students and also have access to support where necessary.

This year, Lee has also helped CAPELLA set up a presence in Manchester, Reading and Bristol, with a current focus on Birmingham.


CARA HAFFEY, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Currently corporate finance assistant director, Cara was a CA exam prizewinner in 2002, was named Scotland’s Emerging Dealmaker in 2007 and continues to be a rising star in PricewaterhouseCoopers.

She has worked on a number of high-profile transactions across Mergers & Acquisitions and debt advisory this year, and also has a key role in the firm’s dedicated international Mergers & Acquisitions team.

A graduate of Lancaster University, Cara joined PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2000 after working at British Airways.

She balances her work life with being a mother and also being an active member of St Georges Tron Church.


JONNY JACOBS, John Menzies

At 27, Jonny Jacobs is a commercially focused CA who has already accumulated a wealth of experience.

He qualified in 2006 with KPMG, picking up an ICAS commendation along the way, and gained valuable experience on secondment at BAA and with KPMG’s lead advisory corporate finance team.

The tour of industry tempted Jonny into the commercial finance team at Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises (now Heineken).

Jonny was voted the youngest representative onto the Heineken Employee Council, allowing him to influence structural change within the UK business.

His work on performance improvement earned him a prestigious Heineken award.

Jonny is currently trying to master Polish and is marrying his fiancé in September.


MALCOLM KPEDEKPO, Panoramic Growth Equity

Malcolm has not looked back since hanging up his boots as a professional footballer at Aberdeen to train as a CA.

Last year, he set up Panoramic Growth Equity (PGE) with two other partners, with the aim of increasing the supply of equity to SMEs throughout the UK.

PGE is currently raising a £32.5m fund, and has secured £21.7m from the UK Government’s Enterprise Capital Scheme. PGE was the first to a Scottish-based company to benefit from that scheme, and expects to close the fund shortly.

Malcolm met his two partners at PGE when he was with the Bank of Scotland’s growth equity team.

Prior to that, he trained and qualified with KPMG in Aberdeen and then went to Australia with KPMG for five years in its audit and corporate finance departments.

Malcolm says he doesn’t miss playing football, and with a young family and the occasional round of golf he has plenty to keep himself busy.


JASON McBURNIE, PricewaterhouseCoopers

An assistant director with PwC’s corporate finance team, Jason was recently named as Scotland’s Emerging Dealmaker of the Year, ahead of very strong competition. The panel said of McBurnie: “This is someone who is playing an increasingly active role on the dealmaking scene and beginning to source his own transactions”.

One advisor who worked with him on a deal praised his “professional approach and well-balanced style” as well as his ability to anticipate issues in advance.

Jason has acted as lead advisor to a range of clients from entrepreneurs to top-tier PLCs over the past nine years and has worked to secure several deal completions through a challenging M&A market, including the £65m sale of Weir’s Strachan & Henshaw business to Babcock.

He also worked on the disposal of the materials and foundry division of the Weir Group to two buyers in two days, and the design of an innovative £37m capital restructuring package for First Milk.



Matt has more than three years of direct deal involvement on more than 15 completed transactions, covering buy-side and sell-side diligence assignments for corporates and private equity backed businesses, as well as reporting accountant’s work.

Notable recent transaction experience includes Patron Sports Leisure’s acquisition of Powerleague Group, Aberdeen Asset Management’s Class 1 acquisition of certain Credit Suisse asset management companies and contracts, Clyde Blowers’ acquisition of the four businesses which comprised the Fluid and Power division of Textron Inc, and Souter Investments and Management’s acquisition of Argent Energy.

Matt went on a three-month secondment to Germany to gain additional experience in Europe, and completed the Caledonian Challenge last summer.



David qualified as a CA at Ernst & Young in 2007 and, in recognition of his work, was promoted to audit manager the following year.

He already has experience of working across various industries, including industrial manufacturing and consumer products, and currently advises a number of key Scottish clients with global operations.

David is part of the firm’s Accelerated Leadership Programme, which is targeted at a small proportion of high-performing individuals who demonstrate strong partnership potential. He has also spearheaded an internal business awareness forum, aimed at increasing the commercial skills and knowledge of audit executives within the firm.

David has also played international hockey, competing for Scotland in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.


KATHRYN O'SULLIVAN, Henderson Global Investors

Having decided on a change of career, Kathryn qualified as a CA with KPMG 2003 and moved to Henderson Global Investors in 2006. She joined at the beginning of Henderson’s operation in Luxembourg and is now head of finance, Luxembourg.

Kathryn is currently enjoying a busy and varied role in the real estate financial world, managing the local finance operation for one of Henderson’s leading property funds. She says: “Becoming a CA is the best thing I’ve ever done, it has opened doors and provided excellent opportunities.”

With CA training now available to Luxembourg trainees, Kathryn says she “takes every opportunity to meet and encourage the students and remind them the CA qualification is hard work but worth it.”

Alongside her full-time role, Kathryn is an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve and finds the contrast between finance and frigates stimulating. “Being at sea, working in a highly-pressurised battle staff, concentrates the mind and is a different but equally rewarding experience to being a CA.”


NICOLA OXLADE, Ernst & Young

Nicola currently works for Ernst & Young as an assurance associate, after joining the firm in 2007 as an undergraduate on the EY Degree Scheme.

The biggest achievement in Nicola’s career to date is to sit on the ICAS Accounting Standards Committee as its first student member.

“This has enabled me to concentrate more of my time on changes within the industry and has given me the opportunity to learn about the more complex accounting issues from some of the best in the field,” she says.

“I believe the CA qualification has put me in a fantastic position for my career, as it encourages the right balance of practical, technical and ethical skills.”

Nicola also has an unusual achievement on her CV – she is also a former Miss UK finalist!



Jamie has been involved in a wide range of projects for financial services companies in the UK and overseas during his time with Deloitte. His determination and hard work have been at the heart of his fast-track career, seeing him promoted to director level in 2008 within Deloitte’s financial services audit practice. He now leads their investment management practice in Scotland.

As well as working with institutional fund managers, investment companies, hedge funds and collective investments schemes, Jamie has an impressive breadth of client experience. These include Martin Currie, Alliance Trust, Aberdeen Asset Management, Santander, HBOS, Standard Life and Credit Suisse.

Outside of the office, Jamie is a keen sportsman. He enjoys golf and marathon running and has also participated in the Rob Roy challenge for the past three years.


IAN REID, Glasgow 2014

Ian leads the finance department at Glasgow 2014, the Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games, with responsibility for managing and planning a budget of more than £450m to support delivery of one of the largest sporting events in the world.

His responsibilities also include procurement, insurance and company secretarial duties for a company which will grow from its current 23 employees to about 1,000 employees and 15,000 volunteers at the time of the games taking place.

Before joining Glasgow 2014, Ian was chief financial planner at Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), with responsibility for all medium to long-term financial planning including the multi-billion pound investment programme.

While training with French Duncan, Ian spent time working on a European Commission contract in Brussels. After completing his training contract in 2002, he moved to the Public Sector Advisory Department at PricewaterhouseCoopers, before joining Ernst & Young’s Infrastructure Advisory Department where he worked on a number of Public Private Partnership transactions.


LAURA RITCHIE, Johnston Carmichael

Laura says she has never looked back since joining Johnston Carmichael nine years ago.

After passing her CA and ATT exams with the firm, she now works in the corporate department in its Aberdeen office, where her client base consists of owner-managed limited companies with turnover ranging from £1m-£100m+.

Laura also has a role in identifying future talent, working with the firm’straining department to recruit new CA/ACCA students.

A highlight of Laura’s career so far was an Executive Stretch Course she attended, held by the Armed Forces, which involved many challenges including completing group tasks, firing live ammunition and a ride in a Chinook helicopter.

Away from work Laura can usually be found supporting Aberdeen Football Club, who she even followed as part of the away support to watch them play Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Germany a few years ago.


GORDON STEELE, Anderson Anderson & Brown

Having qualified as a CA in the audit department of AAB in 2002, Gordon joined the corporate finance division at the beginning of 2004. He was promoted to corporate finance manager in 2005 and then to senior manager in 2007.

Gordon’s expertise is in the delivery of acquisitions, disposals, MBO/Is, debt and equity fundraisings, refinancings and due diligence for owner-managed and private equity led clients.

Gordon has transacted more than 100 deals and has played a significant role in the division’s development which prides itself in being the Business Insider’s top deal making accountant and deal initiator for the last five consecutive years.

Gordon reputation as a highly-skilled, trusted and committed dealmaker, with a pragmatic approach, has been key in the initiation and execution of a number of high-profile, complex, oil and gas service deals up to £100m, along with securing compliance work following transactions.

Outside of work, Gordon likes to keep fit at the gym and enjoys golf during the summer and curling in the winter. He is also an accomplished musician.


SCOTT TAYLOR, Hall Morrice

Scott qualified as a CA at Anderson, Anderson & Brown in 2001 where he went onto to join the corporate finance team from audit.

After a spell with Clydesdale Bank as business development manager from 2003, he joined the structured debt solutions team at the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2005.

At RBS, Scott was responsible for commercial structured finance transactions, typically owner managed buy-outs and acquisitions for businesses with turnover of £1m to £25m. These spanned many sectors, however being Aberdeen-based, were predominantly oil and gas in focus. Scott accepted the position of deputy regional director with RBS, before making the move back into the profession in early 2009, assuming his current position as director of corporate finance at Hall Morrice.

Scott enjoys cycling and has twice completed the gruelling National 24 Hour championship, where he cycled 364 miles in 24 hours. This year his sights are set on the L’Étape du Tour, where amateur cyclists complete a stage of the Tour de France.


BRENDAN WATERS, Johnston Carmichael

Brendan is an experienced corporate finance practitioner, advising a wide range of clients on mergers and acquisitions, buyouts and raising equity finance across Scotland, specialising in the technology sector.

He is currently advising a number of high-growth technology companies on multi-million pound equity investments, several mid-market disposals and helping clients optimise their banking facilities.

Before joining Johnston Carmichael in 2008, Brendan spent four years working with one of the UK’s leading business incubation organisations, leading the advisory team and advising more than 70 early stage, high growth technology and innovation businesses, helping to raise over £15m in finance for those companies.

Prior to that, Brendan spent seven years with PricewaterhouseCoopers, mostly in corporate finance, specialising in the technology, media and the telecomms industries.

In his current role as assistant director of corporate finance, Brendan has played a key part in developing Johnston Carmichael’s offering to high-growth technology companies. Brendan is also working closely with Scottish Enterprise Investments, helping to develop their portfolio of over 250 equity investments in some of the most promising and innovative companies in Scotland.

As well as being an avid football fan, Brendan likes to escape from the pressures of work at the weekends by combining two of his favourite pastimes – photography and hill walking.

Bookmark with:

Have your say

Page No: 19


Related Articles

Digita - SKY Sept (link opens in new window)Advertisement