Steven Doran, Audit Associate


Steven Doran

Audit Associate

National Audit Office (NAO)

What made you apply to the National Audit Office?

I wanted to train as an accountant alongside a knowledgeable, diverse, and professional team. I wanted to move to London for its cultural and social life. I also hoped getting to do that while learning about how money is used to make the country function would be fascinating. (I can confirm… it is.)

Which part of the assessment process did you find easiest/hardest?

The interview was great. I believed the interviewer – who is now a colleague – was genuinely interested to learn about me: it was respectful, professional, and positive, and set me up to respond with confidence, like we were having a conversation.

The hardest was certainly presenting on a case study while a member of NAO staff played the role of a senior client. Summarising a case study under time pressure is difficult – you must quickly decide what information is relevant, consider its impacts, and make concise notes for presenting. Doing so when faced by a person who is ready to challenge and disagree is more difficult. Fortunately, that kind of challenging scenario is unlikely to come at work, especially as a trainee.

What 3 tips do you have for students that are applying to the National Audit Office?

Understand what the job involves. What work is involved in an audit? What is involved in becoming a chartered accountant? If you know about this, you’re making a better-informed decision and will be able to answer questions like ‘Why does this opportunity appeal to you?’ or ‘What qualities do you think are important for an auditor?’

You should also have an idea about what makes you good. Do you see projects through to the end? How do you make the people around you feel good? Are you resilient when faced with unfamiliar problems or happy studying for exams? The organisation is recruiting trainees – use what you have already achieved to give you confidence and be ready to learn the rest.

What do you love about working in London?

London is an incredible city. You can’t escape its history, its global significance, and its immense size. For a curious person, it is constantly interesting.

What does your work day typically look like/involve?

Audits are carefully planned, which means there are clear tasks to get done – often involving writing notes, summarising data from tables, or testing samples. In addition to audit work, I am active in the NAO’s LGBTQ network, helping organise events and influence staff policy to make the organisation more safe, diverse, and inclusive. I also ran a staff choir for Christmas, and enjoy contributing to the NAO’s in-house, staff-made magazine.

What new skills have you picked up since joining?

Asking questions to learn and to make sure work is completed in line with expectations. It’s not always easy to admit there is something you do not know or understand, but the ability to do so is powerful – there’s such a wealth of knowledge in the organisation that you can find out about anything.

What do you do outside of work and study to relax?

I write a blog and I am a pianist. Last year I gave a piano recital in London, which I practised for using a piano at the NAO office. I also write a blog about culture and books. That involves lots of reading, visiting libraries, seeing art, and attending performances – London is a great place to do that.

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