What it's like to work in accountancy: industry focus
Darragh Tyrrell talks about choosing industry over practice, and what it's like to work as a finance and accountancy graduate for Kerry Group.
If you’re really enjoying working in one area you can decide to specialise in it later, and if it’s not your thing, you can move on.
After a rugby accident meant that he had to give up his job as an instructor at an outdoor adventure company, Darragh went back to university (University of Technology Sligo, Ireland). He studied broad business in his first year and found the accountancy and financial elements interesting, so decided to continue exploring them.
Why did you choose industry over practice?
Although I felt practice would undeniably be great for my CV, I got the sense from my tutors and other friends who had entered it ahead of me – most of whom then moved into industry – that it felt like a bit of a finishing school, where you become proficient at one particular thing but you don’t get to see many aspects across a whole business.
When I came to Tralee for my Kerry interview, I had already received graduate job offers from banks and mobile telephone companies and was undecided. But I found I really connected with the people here. I also realised the job would let me experience so many different markets, and that the grad programme has a lot of prestige – two of our CEOs came from it.
Tell us about studying while working.
Kerry encourages continuous development and we're encouaged to sit four exams a year and get a lot of support – five days off before an exam and offers of help with any aspects of our training. I'm studying for my ACCA qualification, which is linked to my development plan to help me become more globally mobile. I work standard hours, but then find it useful to stay in the office and study after I've completed the 'day job'. I'm sometimes here studying until 9.00 pm, but I don’t mind as there is a clear purpose and goal to these long hours… getting qualified!
Do you work with other graduates?
Yes, ten of us started the grad programme here in September, so we’re all in the same process together. Next week we’ll be joining 36 other grads from across Kerry in Europe for management training. Soon I’ll move to a different area of the business, which is great. It means that if you’re really enjoying working in one area you can decide to specialise in it later, and if it’s not your thing, you can move on.
Tell us about your job.
I am currently working in the UK compliance team, looking at the UK and Ireland sites to make sure compliance is ingrained in the business, via statutory requirements, internal controls and corporate governance. I also provide information for the Office of National Statistics, measuring production trends. For example, I’ve just finished a survey which took me about three months to deliver, looking at what we produced in 2018 and sorting them into categories. I really enjoy the fact that I’m always working with people in different sectors of the business.
What skills in particular do you think you’ve developed?
I arrived with some soft skills from my previous roles, but I think I’ve picked up a lot of professional and technical skills here – especially time management skills.
What advice would you give to students hoping to start accountancy careers?
I’d advise students, especially those going into industry, to consider early on what professional qualifications they want to study for, as these are largely determined by the employer you choose. Also, apply early for your exemptions, if you’ve done a degree that will give you exemptions. Knowing you don’t have to do some of the exams will make you feel more relaxed when you first start the grad programme and makes you more hireable.