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International Women’s Day: Women in Accountancy

By Kat Wellum-Kent, director at MHA Monahans

I knew I wanted to be an accountant from the young age of 13. Growing up in a household of businesspeople, accounting was part of everyday life. I used to help my dad with the books for his dental practice and loved it when everything reconciled, I got a real sense of satisfaction from it. All of the dots aligned and created an amazing, clear picture. 

From here, I did a degree in Accountancy and Finance at Warwick and then started at Deloitte, studying my ACA. I spent the first eight years of my time at Deloitte in Audit, starting off in London and then moving to Crawley. I began to get involved with more transactional work, supporting clients who were making acquisitions or listing on the London Stock Exchange. I really loved the buzz from working on these projects so moved to Corporate Finance in Reading, where I worked for a further eight years. During this time, I had two children, and I didn’t have the flexibility I felt I needed to work on these types of transactions. It was then that I started to look for alternative roles in practice and found Monahans.

Looking back on the interviews, I can’t put my finger on exactly what appealed but it felt like the right next step for me. However, there’s no denying that it was a big decision, emotionally and financially. I’ve now been here just over three years and my gut instincts were proved right. 

My friends and family would be able to tell you how much more excited I am about my career now, as I often bore them with it at home. I think that I have developed personally more during the last three years than I have at any other point in my career and I’m sure that will continue as I look towards the future.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. I battled for a long time with imposter syndrome and really struggled to trust myself and my own abilities. Sadly, this isn’t a unique problem. Indeed, recent research has shown that 85 per cent of adults feel incompetent at work, made up of both men and women, and nearly half struggle with negative intrusive thoughts around their worth at work. 

When I was starting out in my career, everyone that I thought of as successful had similar characteristics, ones which you would typically attribute to extroverted men. As an introverted woman, I thought I had to be more like them and wasted a lot of energy second guessing myself and trying to be something I wasn’t. 

Looking back, I’d wish I had just allowed myself to be me. Comparison is the thief of joy and pretending to be someone who you really aren’t can become exhausting. 

For anyone looking to start out in Accountancy – or any field for that matter – my advice would be to be your authentic self and not to worry about what others think of you. Grasp every opportunity that comes your way and make sure you’re doing something that you enjoy, that lights you up and that makes all the hard work worth it.

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