The CoE - Transforming Global Audit Engagements
I started my audit career with another international accounting firm, spending the first eight years of my professional life with the organisation. I joined their Scottish practice straight from high school, and completed a traineeship, before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 2012. After six years with the firm, I transferred to a new office which had been established in Cambodia, to support the growth of a very small practice into a more established member firm in a developing market and an emerging economy.
My time in Cambodia provided a real variety of professional services experience – from business development, to operations, training, and recruitment; all the while managing a portfolio of international audit clients with international expectations. Having spent almost 2 years in South-east Asia in that start-up environment, I realised it was time for a new challenge – and as chance would have it, the opportunity to join EY’s recently-established Global Reporting Center of Excellence in Dublin presented itself. I had a call with the founding Partner, Hermann Sidhu, and was immediately bought into his vision and enthusiasm – this by far outweighed the risk attached to joining such a small group with such high expectations. A couple of telephone interviews later, and I was on a flight to Dublin to begin a new chapter – with a healthy mixture of trepidation and genuine excitement about taking on this new challenge in a new environment.
Looking back to where we started, with a team of five trying to figure out how to deliver on a vision and its underlying concepts, to where we are less than three years later – it’s clear to me that this growth has been enabled by two key drivers: diversity of the team, and a culture of continuous innovation. Our team of over 100 people based across a number of countries and timezones are what make the CoE such an inspiring place to work – everyone has a different background, and therefore a different perspective to bring to the table, and that variety of perspective and industry insight is what truly adds value to our clients. The mindset of continuous improvement really bears out in the innovative way in which our people approach the challenges that our clients and global audit teams face across the Firm’s largest engagements, looking for opportunities to design and deploy digital solutions where possible.
My path to the CoE, and EY as an organisation, is perhaps not a conventional one, but certainly gave me the technical experience and soft skill base required to succeed in my role with the CoE. Having a solid background in statutory audits and statutory reporting, often on multi-jurisdiction engagements, has allowed me to apply a lot of those concepts on a larger scale – and being able to identify the challenges that are frequently faced by international audit teams and by multinational organisations has provided a platform to help position the CoE as a differentiator to clients right across the spectra of centralisation, systems integration, and client emphasis on statutory compliance.
The most rewarding aspects of the role encompass three areas: the people – not just within the CoE group, but also across our extended international audit teams; the client base that we have developed, having the opportunity to engage and ideate with the most experienced and senior contacts in our clients’ finance organisations; and technology – there’s an incredible sense of satisfaction in seeing a concept which starts off on a whiteboard, transform through the various digital stages of design, development, and deployment, before finally getting real-time feedback when delivered to our clients.
In July 2017, I relocated to Atlanta, where EY’s Global IT team is based, to take on the role of “Product Owner” for a number of Digital initiatives. This has offered me the opportunity to work with larger and more complex product development teams, whilst continuing to stay close to the clients who will derive value from these products. This has been an incredible opportunity, and one which allows me to continue to develop professionally and personally.
After four years with the CoE, my feeling is that we’ve really just scratched the surface of transforming global audit engagements, and providing additional value and insight to our clients – so while we’ve achieved a great deal so far, there’s certainly more to come, and I’m delighted to be a part of driving that continued growth.