Meeting the Barden Team...Sandra Quinn, ACA

Sandra Quinn, ACA, is a Partner with our team in Dublin.  She is a Chartered Accountant and holds an Honours Degree in Business Studies.  Sandra has been with Barden for a number of years and specialises in senior finance appointments and careers.

Between 2000 to 2010, Sandra trained and worked in EY for 5 years, and spent 5 years working as an ACA in industry.  In 2010, she made the move into the recruitment world becoming a recruitment consultant to senior finance professionals.

With her bespoke, real-life and practical experience Sandra is unique in her field, and excellently placed to advise and support senior finance professionals in their careers and businesses in developing their finance teams.

We caught up recently with Sandra to find out a little bit more about her.

Where are you from?

I am from Thurles, Tipperary but now live by the sea in beautiful Greystones.

Where did you study?

I did a Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) degree in Waterford IT and went on to do my ACA exams through EY Waterford (Ernst & Young as it was way back then!).

What are your best memories from your time in WIT?

I made amazing friends in Waterford.  The three girls I lived with in 1st year (24 years ago!) are still 3 of my best friends. And I go on family holidays now with 3 others of my WIT alumni group (and the 4 partners and 11 children we have added to the group since!).

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?

I’ve worked since I was 14, all through school and college and every Summer, and most of my roles were very people facing and focused on giving the best service to your customer, so I think that is where my ‘career’ started.

My first job, which I had for 4 or 5 years, was at a Thurles supermarket after school and at weekends.  In college, I worked weekend shifts in a factory at home for a year or two and I also worked as a bar person, sales assistant, waitress and receptionist…so gained lots of non-finance experience before I ever became an ACA!

During my training in EY, I really loved going out to places on audit, and the travel that was required for 3 to 4 months of the year. I stayed for a year in EY after my training contract ended, then moved to industry where I held roles from Financial Controller to Business Development manager. In 2010, I made the big move into recruitment and haven’t looked back!

Most people probably don’t think their professional background starts at 14 but all of my roles have led to the career I have and love today.  I like to think I am an expert on people and I truly believe that people cannot be happy in their lives if they are not fulfilled at work.

Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?

My biggest achievement has to be my two daughters and my son, who are 7, 5 and 3, and challenge and fascinate me every day. In terms of work, my career enables me to help people to change their lives.  Every time I work with a client, whether that’s a professional looking for a new opportunity, or an employer looking to build their finance team and solve a problem, I feel an immense sense of achievement.

What made you decide to move into recruitment?

I went to Ed Heffernan in 2010 looking for a finance role.  Recruitment had been mentioned to me way back before EY but when Ed suggested it, I seriously considered it and decided that it was worth taking a chance.

I tell people that the role or business they are going to means nothing if they cannot get on with the people they will work closest with. I guessed then that I would work very well with Ed and learn a lot from him, which continues still.

What kind of professionals do you work with?

Senior finance professionals generally 8 years + PQE across sectors and industries in Leinster. Ideally, I like to build relationships with candidates and clients long before there is a live role on either side.

What are your top tips for anyone looking for a new opportunity?

Take chances, always look at the big picture and take advice and guidance from mentors and others in your profession.  Most people I meet are pretty advanced in their careers.  They may have had a couple of roles since they completed their training and even been in 2 or 3 companies since.

But the best (and happiest) finance professionals I meet have always thought of what their CV will look like in 5/10/15 years’ time. For example, an Internal Audit or Systems Accountant role may not seem like the perfect job to a newly qualified ACA but these roles are by far the best way to get to know a business and get exposure to key stakeholders.

What three words best describe you?

Honest, positive and hard-working.

Who is your role model, and why?

Two really – Barack and Michelle Obama, I recently read Michelle’s book and I think they are open, honest, caring and above all good parents and good people.  They took every chance they had and always made the best of opportunities.

What is it that makes you different from others in your field?

I am always conscious of the fact that we hold people’s lives in our hands, and in particular their professional futures.  Someone’s career, at the very senior end, is a huge part of their life and that of their family so them being happy, feeling connected, challenged and fulfilled at work is absolutely the most important thing for me.  I do all in my power to help people achieve what they really want when it comes to their careers and to get what’s best for them.  Your job should be one you’re happy (or at least content!) going to every morning, especially first thing on a Monday!

I also feel I can relate to my clients at this stage of their lives.  Everyone I work with is looking to blend their lives in the best way possible.  Whether that is spending more time with family, other business interests or outside passions that need a serious time commitment, I want to help people find the job that suits their life.

And finally, glass half full or half empty?

Overflowing!  I am a ridiculously positive person.  From always thinking I will get the closest parking space to the door to making the best of a bad situation, I always see the positive and assume that good things will happen.

Need help achieving your ambitions?

Are you a senior qualified accounting professional looking for help in achieving your ambitions?  If so, get in touch with Sandra Quinn today who would be more than happy to meet you for a coffee and chat to help you navigate your professional future.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there!

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