A long CV at the age of 33
Lauren's goal for her career is to always be doing something that she loves, and it has meant she has been on quite a journey. Find out how her unusual degree choice led her to working in Audit, and now as a Director in AAB's unique Virtual Finance Function.
Blog26th Feb 2021
I graduated from St Andrews University with a MA Honors in Classical studies and International Relations. I still get asked about my odd choice of degree ( I was the only one graduating with that joint honors) as it seems poles apart from what I do now. The short answer is I did it because I loved it. This has pretty much been my goal for my career. If I didn’t love it then why was I doing it?
I went straight from university to my audit training. Which might seem odd given the degree I had done but in reality it just meant I needed to sit 5 extra exams! Although I enjoyed the variety and client contact I knew a long term career in audit wasn’t for me, but I loved professional services. From day one of my professional career I’ve probably been that person who will put their hand up and say their ultimate goal is to be a Partner (FYI I’m still that person with their hand up).
I left audit after having a short spell on maternity leave and went into industry as I couldn’t see how I was going to reach that goal in the environment I was in. However, although I tried a number of industry jobs, I realized that industry just wasn’t for me. I now had an excellent set of experience in a variety of industries, running finance functions of different sizes and complexities, but I didn’t love it and that was the deal breaker.
I approached AAB in 2018 after having a chat with my old boss who thought AAB would be a good fit, to see if there would be a role for me. After meeting with a couple of the firm’s Partners I was offered a senior management position at the firm. I knew that I wanted to provide awesome service to my clients and the world of accounting was changing, so we were faced with the opportunity of creating something unique to offer to our clients. Working alongside key members of the team, we launched the Virtual Finance Function (VFF) in 2018, and our team sits within AAB’s Business Advisory Group.
I lead the VFF team which provides a fully bespoke cloud solution for our clients’ finance functions. We are part of their team, as involved as they need us to be – just not in their office. As you can imagine, this set us up well for the challenges that 2020 brought. The VFF team went from working together in the office to simply plugging straight in at home.
2020 has been a challenging year for a variety of reasons. I announced my pregnancy to the team and didn’t return to the office for the whole of 2020! At some points people became so used to seeing my head and shoulders they forgot I was having another baby! Returning to work, homeschooling a primary 3 pupil and having a baby has certainly had its challenges!
What 2020 has shown me is that we must be adaptable, not just as accountants but in our lives too. I wouldn’t have returned to work if I didn’t love what I do, providing the solution to my clients and working with an amazingly talented team is what keeps me motivated. I may have had a lengthy CV but 3 years into AAB, a Director promotion last April and a growing team keeps me motivated every day.
By Lauren McIlroy, Virtual Finance Function Director