We speak with Zoe Plowman, Associate Partner, about being in a leading position at a respected firms of Chartered Accountants. She reflects on her own career path to bring you more guidance on starting out in this exciting profession.
Zoe starter her career with Ensors in 1998. This was after joining the firm as a Student Accountant at their Bury St Edmunds office, Radford House. Having joined whilst partially AAT qualified, she completed her qualification and moved onto obtaining her ACCA. During 2001 Zoe moved from Radford House to the Haverhill office. Here, she took on a Senior Accountant role and began managing her own client list, progressing on to Assistant Manager.
In 2007 the offices merged into the current Bury St Edmunds office. In 2009 Zoe made a move over to the Ipswich office to manage a corporate and pension scheme portfolio. She continued climbing in her career, making stops along the way. Zoe was Pensions Manager, Audit Group Manager and Director until she was promoted to the role she holds today.
Balancing life and career
During my time at Ensors I have had two short periods of maternity leave, I reduced my hours. Working part time for 9 years, and for the last 11 years I have been back to full time. I was lucky to join a firm that allowed me to flex my hours around family commitments. In a supportive environment and give me opportunities to develop and progress my career.
Reaching the top of your professional field is a long journey. Ensuring you are in a supportive environment is key to making that journey as comfortable as possible. Not only is your environment key but finding enjoyment in your day-to-day is vital. This avoids burnout on your career path. There is variety in the clients you work with, especially at a higher level, which can make each feel fresh.
Zoe’s says that ‘every day is different. Primarily I am an Audit Partner. I am also heavily involved in recruiting and appraising staff, team management, networking, writing articles for publication. I also contribute my fair share in compliance matters that are involved with running a partnership.’
Progressing your career
As your career advances and you begin taking on new responsibilities, you will be exposed to a wider workload. The responsibility to be allowed to manage your team is something that is rewarding not through remuneration, but through pride. ‘Managing people can have pros and cons, but it is lovely to see people develop. I do enjoy being part of their journey’.
What drew me to audit was going out and about visiting clients, as an auditor you are privileged to gain a unique insight into a client’s business and operations. Going out as a team with one common goal, working together to support each other and get the job done is very rewarding.’
It is important to not just think about how your role will change. But also how the industry as a whole will evolve and transform over the coming years. Through Zoe’s reflection, we can tell that the landscape of this profession has already grown over the past two decades. ‘When I started in 1998 our work was largely manual, and we had no female partners. In both respects the firm and the industry has progressed and evolved.’
With the ever pressing digitalisation of the industry, processes have begun to change rapidly. Instead of a slow and gradual process of evolution, have been transforming almost overnight throughout the pandemic era. It is always important to remember the basics as these are the skills that will carry you through your career. ‘In terms of digitalisation, processes have streamlined many of our services. But judgement and rationalisation will always be key in auditing.’
What advice would you give to people starting out in their career? Zoe says ‘You will never know everything. Accounting/Auditing standards and tax rules are constantly changing’. Continuing the sentiment by advising that it is important to picture the long-term:
It is a long road. When I were younger, I had friends earning more than me, working less hours. In your early 20s it takes some commitment to think longer term and focus on your studies. Set yourself a target and whatever life throws at you don’t deter from that. I am so glad I stuck at it!’
Advice for future Accountants
I think about the long term and don’t get bogged down by small bumps in the road which is key to succeeding. Coming in to work with the right attitude and mentality, without letting one failure define the rest of your career is possibly the most positive mindset to have. That’s not to say that failures should be easily forgotten. On the contrary, they should be learnt from. If you are planning for the long term, and have a clear picture of where you want to be, it is important to care; treat each place you work as a career and not just a one off temporary job. ‘I am heavily involved in student recruitment and since a large percentage of Ensors partners trained with the firm, one of our key messages is that if you work hard and are committed, you treat the journey as a career and not just a job – There is no reason why you can’t get to partner!’.
If you are looking to begin your own journey on the road to Partner, Zoe and the Ensors team are constantly on the look out for talented qualified staff to join their growing team. They have a number of live vacancies, some of which can be found here, but are also open to receiving speculative CVs. If the perfect role for you is not currently being advertised over at Ensors, it is still a good idea to send in your current CV and let the team know what roles you are interested in.
If you are starting out on your career path and have aspirations of becoming a Chartered Accountant, you will be happy to know that Ensors are currently recruiting for their 2023 training pathways, which will start enrolment in January and September next year.
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