To mark International Women’s Day, Eimear Brown, Head of Audit tells us about her career journey, inspirations and shares some advice.

What inspired you to pursue a career in accountancy?

I always really enjoyed maths and business studies at school, so pursuing a career in accountancy always seemed like a natural step for me.

How would you define your leadership style, and how did you navigate your way to a leadership position?

If I had to sum it up, I’d say supportive, encouraging, and focused on mentorship. I always try to get the best out of every team member to help them reach their full potential. My approach is rooted in my values, experiences, and commitment to empowering those I lead.

I think I found my way to this position due to my good work ethic, and by building positive and solid relationships with both my clients and my colleagues.

Can you share a specific accomplishment or triumph in your career that you are particularly proud of?

Being appointed as Head of Audit at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore was a defining moment in my career. It filled me a real sense of personal achievement knowing that my dedication and hard work had been recognised.

I feel very lucky that my role has allowed me to foster a collaborative and high-performing audit team, nurturing talent and promoting a culture of continuous improvement. Witnessing the team’s growth under my leadership has been immensely gratifying.

Who are the women that have inspired you in your career, whether within the finance industry or beyond?

Mary McAleese is nothing short of inspirational. She was a barrister and the second female President of Ireland, and the first from Northern Ireland.  Her children were still at school when she took up office and she had to balance her family and a very public, demanding role.

The fact that she managed to navigate the complexities of her high-profile position while being a supportive parent is a testament to her strength. I think that Mary McAleese’s story resonates with many women who aspire to break barriers and succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields, while maintaining a strong sense of family and community. Her journey really serves as a beacon for women aspiring to leadership roles.

Have you had mentors or role models throughout your career? How have they influenced your professional journey?

I would say my biggest mentor has always been my mum, she has been instrumental in shaping my professional journey. She always quietly encouraged me to keep going with my education. When I was finished my A levels, I decided I wanted to go straight into work, but I had been offered a place to study an Accountancy degree at Ulster University.

After 3 months of working in the civil service, I told my mum that I had changed my mind, and I should have gone to university. When I approached my mum with this revelation, she not only reassured me but also revealed that she had already secretly deferred my place, allowing me to start university the following September!

How do you manage work-life balance in a demanding role like Head of Audit?

I am realistic in what I can achieve in a day and don’t put unrealistic expectations on myself or any of my colleagues. I have good relationships with my peers, and they are always willing to step up to share the workload.

I am also fortunate to have very supportive friends and family. I began my career working and living in Dublin in a big 4 firm for ten years which I loved, then when my children came along, I moved back to Belfast to be closer to family. I try and make the most of my weekends and do the things that I love.

What advice do you have for young women aspiring to pursue a career in audit or accountancy?

It’s a great career and can give you many opportunities all over the world. I have always been treated well throughout my career and I have found it very flexible around my family life.  Also, have confidence in yourself and in your ability. Don’t be afraid to go for a leadership role in your field – if I can do it, anyone can! The most important part of leadership is the way you treat people, and if you get that right most of the time then the rest is easy.

How can experienced professionals contribute to the mentorship and development of the next generation of female leaders?

Lead by example and be a role model, especially to your junior members of staff. It’s important to trust your staff and encourage them gently. By treating everyone fairly and giving everyone equal opportunities, we as leaders can play a vital role in empowering and guiding the future leaders in the field.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is particularly important for the next generation of female leaders. We need to remain proactive in sustaining and further enhancing values of inclusivity, respect, and fairness. Being receptive and open to feedback can create an even more equitable workplace for everyone.

How do you think International Women’s Day has impacted the workplace, specifically in the finance and accounting sector?

I think it has given workplaces a chance to really reflect on and celebrate the progress that has been made. International Women’s Day serves as an annual reminder to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of women in the workplace and progress vital conversations about diversity and inclusion.

The global nature of International Women’s Day highlights the disparities that still exist for many women in various parts of the world. It serves as a call to action for organisations to not only celebrate the achievements of women within their own contexts, but also to advocate for gender equality on a broader scale.