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From Practice to Industry: A Chartered Accountant’s Journey to Success

  • Publish Date: Posted 12 days ago

Navigating the shift from professional practice to industry can be a daunting yet rewarding experience for accountants. In our latest interview, we sit down with Carter Christlo, an EMEA Financial Accounting & Reporting Controller at Insight, a Fortune 500 company specialising in business-to-business IT solutions.

With an impressive background as an ACA chartered accountant, Carter began his accounting career at KPMG before moving to Insight Direct, where he achieved his qualification. His unique perspective on transitioning from professional practice to industry offers invaluable insights for both aspiring and seasoned accountants.

In this comprehensive interview, conducted by our Senior Business Manager, Jack Curtis, we explore Carter's remarkable career journey, his strategic approach to personal and professional growth, and his practical advice for accountants aiming to make a similar transition.

Whether you are an aspiring accountant, an industry transition seeker, or a finance professional, this interview promises valuable insights to help you thrive in your career.

How did you find the transition into industry from professional practice whilst part-qualified?

Tough but incredibly rewarding. The transition from professional practice into industry is never easy, amplified by doing so when being part qualified. Becoming qualified was always an immediate priority but ultimately, I knew that I wanted to move into an environment where I could make a difference and add significant value, but also remain with a well-regarded and highly successful business.

What advice would you give to students completing ACA in industry?

Studying within professional practice has a lot of structure coupled with training alongside numerous peers going through similar exams / experiences. This was a stark difference when studying my ACA in industry, meaning I needed that motivation and commitment to complete. I sought out other avenues of learning off my own back as it suited my learning style, so the advice is certainly to find a learning method and adapt to a style best suited to you.

What main skillset has industry developed when compared to professional practice?

I have utilised all elements / skills from my time in Audit to take ownership on more projects, to which I am still learning and developing…that never stops! The question always remains…’Are you busy or are you Audit busy…? Which is an apt question in my opinion! Working in professional practice has given me the immediate focus and ability to successfully complete multiple, complex tasks at once, both from a technical and personal perspective. The softer skillset I have developed, when meeting a variety of high-profile clients and stakeholders has stood me in good stead when addressing senior stakeholders now - both internally and externally.

Originating in professional practice, do you think it’s given you a good grounding in being successful in industry?

In one word…absolutely! The exposure you receive from an Audit perspective is unparalleled (in my opinion) and has facilitated the success that I am experiencing now with Insight. Originating in professional practice gives a perspective that other sectors / industries wouldn’t do, especially to a variety of businesses via the rotations. My technical accounting ability gave me an immediate boost when I made the move originally due to the work I had been involved in prior. It has given a stable base where I can now continue my development down whichever avenue I see fit alongside the competency to do so. 

What factors did you consider when choosing a company to join?

Could they offer long term growth…and the personal fit were dealbreakers for me. Ultimately, I felt confident from a technical point of view so I knew I needed the right environment and company to ensure firstly I completed my qualification but equally could see further development in years to come. Inevitably things can change, but Insight have not only continued to support my technical development but personal growth too. I have had the pleasure of working for two businesses who put a genuine value on both those points.

Any other advice to give when considering a new opportunity?

My one piece of main advice would be to always remain brave. As Accountants we are built to mitigate risk, but this can potentially hold you back in your career, sometimes without realising at first. Remain goal orientated and ensure that those goals are being constantly reevaluated and measured against. Everyone’s journey is different, and you can never directly compare to anyone else, be brave to make those decisions and act on them when the time comes. At times growth will always feel like a risk and unnatural but remain confident in yourself and your ability whilst valuing the company you choose to work for not just the role / job that is on offer. Change is inevitable, embrace it don’t obstruct it. 

In conclusion, Carter's journey from professional practice to industry serves as a compelling blueprint for any accountant aiming to navigate a similar path. His candid reflections on the challenges he faced and the strategies he employed offer invaluable lessons for aspiring finance professionals. By leveraging the skills and experiences gained in professional practice, combined with a proactive approach to industry, Carter demonstrates that success is attainable with the right mindset and determination. As you consider your career trajectory, let Carter's story inspire you to seize new opportunities and continuously strive for personal and professional excellence.

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Note: If Carter's insights resonate with you and you are contemplating your next career move, our Sharp Consultancy experts are ready to guide you. Book a consultation to begin your journey towards achieving your career goals.

Looking for your next career move in finance or accountancy? At Sharp Consultancy, our expertise lies in matching your potential with the perfect temporary, interim, or permanent position. With a well-established presence in Leeds and Sheffield, our seasoned team of consultants extends their services across Yorkshire and beyond. Don't wait for opportunity to knock, reach out to us TODAYand let's chart your career path together.