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The strength and depth of exceptional accountancy and finance talent in the Yorkshire region is highlighted with the hugely popular Young Accountant of the Year annual awards.

The competition was established by Sharp Consultancy in 2000 and is run in conjunction with West Yorkshire Society of Chartered Accountants.  It recognises the best of the region’s accountants who are either training to be qualified or have been qualified for up to two years.

On Friday the 22nd of February the 20th winner of the Young Accountant of the Year accolade will be announced at a glittering award ceremony held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.  We caught up with last year’s winner Haydn Horner of PwC to talk about the 12 months since he won the title.

Can you tell us about your career to date?

I started my career in September 2014, joining External Audit in PwC having completed a Summer Internship with them the year before. I have worked on a range of different clients and projects across multiple sectors, which has enabled me to gain a broad experience. I’ve also been involved in transformational projects within the firm looking at the future of how we audit.


How did it feel first of all to be selected as a finalist, and then to have been named as the overall winner?

It was a real honour to be nominated by my firm in the first place, and then to be selected as a finalist was great, although I was a bit unsure about the panel interview process (in hindsight I had no need to worry). To eventually win was a real moment of pride and completely unexpected.


How has your work and career developed over the last 12 months?

I have always been lucky enough to be provided with a variety of opportunities that have allowed me to develop within my career in a short space of time.

Over the last year I have started a secondment to set up a new initiative around how we deliver audit work to our clients, which involves the creation of a new team and set up of a new centre in Bradford. A very exciting new challenge for me!

I have also recently been promoted to Manager.


What has been the biggest change for you since winning last year?

My external network has grown a lot since winning last year and I’m never short of somebody to grab a coffee with.

I’ve grown in confidence and I’m enjoying using everything I have learnt so far to help coach and mentor the next generation joining the firm.


What advice would you give to this year’s winner?

Use it as a platform to build your network and explore the opportunities which are available to you. Most importantly be proud of your achievement!


Why do you think that awards such as Young Accountant of the Year are important both for the individual nominees and their employers?

For the individuals I think it is really important to have something such as this to strive for and also an opportunity to recognise success and hard work. It is also a chance for people early on in their career to reflect on their progress so far and think about where they would like to get to in the future.

For employers, it is important to recognise their employees – even just through nominating them for an award such as this is very powerful.


As part of the judging process you were interviewed by a panel of leading industry figures – how did you find the experience?

It was not as daunting as I thought it was going to be. It was a really engaging conversation and the panel were genuinely interested to hear what I had to say. It was also a brilliant opportunity to hear about their experiences and ask them some questions.


What qualities do you think are important for those starting out in accountancy and finance to have in order to make their mark?

Confidence is really important. Be sure about your ability and what you know, but equally be confident to ask questions and continuously learn.

The ability to build and maintain trusted relationships can take you far. Somebody who is personable but who can build a relationship based on integrity and trust will be very impactful.

A good personality never goes amiss as well!