We were thrilled to see our Graduate Trainee Philip Stothers awarded first place overall by the Chartered Accountants Ireland Ulster Society in the 2022 examinations for the Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting at Ulster University.

While studying at Ulster University, Philip also picked up the Baker Tilly Mooney Moore award for Best Overall Student in Year 2 in the Financial Accounting module, before joining us in Audit and Accounts on the Graduate Training Programme this September. We recently caught up with Philip to discuss his success, his motivation to join the industry, and what he’s learned with us so far.

1. What motivated you to pursue a career in accounting?

Growing up on a farm and seeing an active business functioning around me inspired an early passion for business and entrepreneurship. Combining this with my enjoyment for maths, I felt accountancy was the perfect career choice. When researching which degree I would pursue, it was clear that with hard work and dedication you can have a successful and secure career for life in accounting.

2. How did you find your time as a student?

University life was brilliant and opened up so many wonderful opportunities. One of these was to become the Department Student Rep for Accounting Finance & Economics, which involved liaising with students, having an awareness of any concerns, and presenting them back to staff. I especially loved studying Accounting at Ulster University as the teaching staff were brilliant and friendly.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of specific areas you can choose to study and once you have the degree or qualification, you can work in Audit, Tax, Consulting, Insolvency, Forensics, Deal Advisory or Finance. The world is your oyster with an accounting degree.

One highlight of my time as a student would have to be winning the Baker Tilly Mooney Moore award for the best overall student in Financial Accounting while in my second year. This was a great motivator for me in my early days of studying and encouraged me to continue working for the career I have chosen.

3. What attracted you to the Graduate Training Programme and how are you progressing so far?

When researching which firm I would apply to, size and culture were important. Baker Tilly Mooney Moore is the ideal size of a training firm. It is large enough that I can get exposure to well-known clients across the UK & Ireland while at the same time, the management structure is compact enough that I can have direct communication with Partners & Directors on a daily basis.

The culture is brilliant, there are events organised every month such as treasure hunts, pub quizzes, the World Cup predictor competition and of course our annual Christmas Lunch. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, and I couldn’t recommend the firm enough for any young aspiring accountants.

4. What do you enjoy most about your role?

The thing I enjoy the most is the wide variety of experience I have gained. My role is not like at other firms where you might be working on the same project for weeks. Instead, my training allows me to perform various roles, such as being out meeting clients on an audit engagement or working in the office on a set of statutory accounts. The role is varied, and every client is different.

While I am completing my training via Chartered Accountants Ireland, I don’t have exams in my first year so can focus fully on client work and being guided by others to develop my client servicing, before getting back into studying next year for my final exams.

5. What piece of advice would you give to someone beginning their career journey into the industry?

Take it day by day and ask a lot of questions. Remember that you are not expected to know everything from day one, and if you ask a question and learn from it you are doing very well. If you still have job interviews coming up, just be yourself and bring your personality and hobbies into your interview answers. Above all, just do something today that your future self would be proud of.

Philip is pictured receiving his award from Zara Duffy of Chartered Accountants Ireland and Helen McGuffin, Course Director, Ulster University.