Next up in our ‘5 minutes with…’ series is one of our Audit Managers, Pauline McKevitt
Pauline McKevitt is Audit Manager at UHY Farrelly Dawe White. She lives in Newry with her husband, Robbie, and their three sons: Shea, aged seven; and four-year-old twins Matthew and Dylan.
Tell us about your career path to date.
I attended the Sacred Heart Grammar School in Newry, where I achieved top grades in Maths, Physics and Accounting, and was presented with an award for achieving highest marks in the school in the Accounting exam. As my father is an accountant I grew up listening to him talking about his work, and it seemed so interesting and diverse. I enjoy working with figures and applying my mathematical and problem solving abilities to real-world scenarios which led me initially to pursue a career in engineering. I completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering at Queens University, Belfast. I realised before I finished my Degree that Accounting was for me as having secured a summer job between second and third year at university in an accountancy firm in Newry, Fitzpatrick & Kearney, coincidentally this is also the firm where Alan Farrelly trained, I realised this was where my passion lay. I graduated from Queens in 2001 and was offered a training contract with the firm so I started working there full-time and qualified as a chartered accountant in 2006 and quickly rose to manager the following year. In July 2015 to develop my career further I was delighted to move to UHY FDW to take up a role as audit senior and within a year I was appointed Audit manager. My career path was winding but accountancy was without doubt the right choice for me.
Are you where you expected to be in your career?
Yes, as I had progressed to the highest rank in Fitzpatrick and Kearney, I felt the best way forward was to make the move to a larger more globally focused firm. I feel that as my children are now at school, I can now focus on developing my career further and look forward to the challenges ahead.
What’s the best career advice you received?
My parents always advised me to work hard and to strike a good work/life balance. If it gets to the stage where you’re not enjoying work and feeling a sense of achievement then it’s time to make a change.
Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?
Work hard; listen to advice from others; learn something new every day; and try to stay ahead as accounting standards and legislation are continually changing. Experience counts for a lot. Always keep an open mind and be enthusiastic and willing to learn.
How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?
My work style is to be reliable and dependable in meeting objectives and to put 100% effort into any task set. Over the years my work style has evolved to adapt to technological advances. There is much more reliance on electronic communication now than when I initially started working, clients can email in books and records and we can get instant access to them, this has had the effect of creating a fast paced environment where a faster turnaround time is expected.
In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?
When managing a team it is important to delegate tasks to the team member with the appropriate level of training and skill set. By monitoring the team I can see particular areas where an individual may be struggling and need additional help and can focus attention on developing their knowledge and understanding in that area. Constructive criticism can be used as a motivational tool. Sometimes the best way to learn is to be thrown in at the deep end. Give feedback to team members on work produced, encouragement and praise where praise is due can have such a positive impact on the team.
What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?
Communication is extremely important. Everything runs more smoothly when everyone is on the same page. Keep lines of communication open, encourage questions and be prepared to listen to other opinions.
Has networking played an important part in your career?
To date networking hasn’t played a big role as I was in my previous job for 14 years and moved to UHY FDW two years ago. When I was looking for a new job, I applied through a recruitment agency. I hadn’t considered working in Dundalk as my training was Northern Ireland-based but it has turned out to be a very good move in progressing and moving forward in my career.
What do you like most about your career?
I enjoy the challenges and the variety of working every day in an accountancy office, the range of clients is so diverse, you could be working on a sole traders accounts one day and then working on the large audit of a group of companies the next.
If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be and why?
I really enjoy keeping fit and running, I find it a great stress reliever, so if I had to choose another career I would like to be a personal trainer. I ran a half marathon in Newry in May and I’m doing the Belfast one in September. I also do various 5km and 10km races throughout the year.
Contact Pauline McKevitt