Meeting the Barden Team...Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy is Associate Director with our team in Dublin and is a key member of the leadership team in Barden. Sarah joined Barden in the very early stages in June 2015, when there was only 4 people on the team. She has played a pivotal role in building Barden into Ireland’s largest and leading accounting and tax recruitment company, now with a team 30 across two national office, in Cork and Dublin.

Sarah is an expert in accounting recruitment, with a particular focus on assisting mid-senior level qualified accountants.

Before moving into recruitment, Sarah worked as a tax accountant for 4 years with a mid-sized practice in Dublin. She then decided to join the world of recruitment and has gained over six years’ experience in accounting recruitment. This real life, practical, and hands on experience makes Sarah stand out from the crowd when it comes to helping professionals with their future. Not only does she know the recruitment world but also the accounting and tax world too.

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

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Listowel in Co. Kerry…famous for its literary geniuses, horse-racing and most recently winner of Ireland’s tidiest town!

Where and what did you study?

After studying a Bachelor of Commerce in University College Cork (best years of my life!), I studied for the Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA) exams and last year, for my sins, I undertook and completed the Human Resource Management course with CIPD. Not one to rest, I’m already planning my next course!

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?

I started out my career working as a tax consultant and after four years, in 2012, I decided to change the course of my career and make the move in to accounting recruitment. I began my recruitment career with a global recruitment firm in Dublin and Dubai.

In 2015, I got the opportunity to join Barden when it was at early stages of growth. I decided on the move to Barden as I wanted to work with a business that is laser focused on accounting careers, has a consultative approach, gives expert and impartial advice, while also operating under a distinct moral compass. I love working with a team of likeminded people who are passionate about what they do, want to change the recruitment profession and put people first, transactions second.

You spent some of your time working in recruitment in Dubai, what was that like?

I was keen to get some international recruitment experience which is why I decided to take the opportunity to work in Dubai. It was interesting to see how recruitment works across other cultures. It’s completely different to recruitment in Dublin. Great experience though and loved the lifestyle!

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

Being part of building Barden to where it is today, in three and half years we’ve gone from four of us sitting around a table to thirty people across two national offices.

What made you decide to move into recruitment?

I was keen to pursue a career where I could work with people and be challenged, but also leverage off my accounting experience. It was a risk at the time but I’ve never looked back and it was definitely the best decision I ever made.

What kind of roles and companies do you work with?

I primarily focus on mid-senior level accountancy roles across industry and financial services. Typical assignments I work on include: Financial Controller, Finance Manager, Accounting Manager, FP&A Manager, Internal Audit Manager, Senior Financial Accountant, Senior Financial Analyst, Corporate Finance Manager and Corporate Development Manager.

Typical business structures include: Corporate/Group functions, SSC, Large Indigenous, SME MNC, Strategic Business Units and SME indigenous across a variety of industries including Pharma, Energy, Utilities, Aircraft Leasing, Banking, Insurance, Retail, FMCG, Healthcare, IT, Software, Professional Services, Leisure, Hospitality, Sport, Travel, Aviation, Manufacturing, Advertising & Media, Property, Construction, Telecoms, Funds and Supply Chain/Distribution.

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

Be realistic, choose your next opportunity based on the people you’ll work with, don’t just chase the highest salary and finally, contact Barden!

What three words best describe you?

Honest (sometimes too honest!), loyal and curious.

What’s your favourite movie?

The Departed, love a good crime thriller.

What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?

12, babysitting kids. Had 5 babysitting jobs on the go by the age of 14!

With 2019 just around the corner, and as an expert in qualified accounting careers at mid-senior level, what do you think are the key challenges facing employers recruiting at this level?

With regard to the challenges facing employers – as we all know the boom is well and truly back!

Talent attraction, management and retention is a key challenge which will continue to be a factor in 2019. The candidate is in the driving seat, it’s the candidate who will ultimately decide if they wish to work with you, or not.

The success of your team, depends largely on the calibre of talent that you’re able to attract and retain. It’s important to ensure you can continue to attract the top talent in the market, which of course, is very slim on the ground. You need a strong employer brand that speaks to the intrinsic needs of candidates. Barden can help you bridge that knowledge gap and become an expert in the area of talent attraction, management and retention.

And your prediction of the market for mid-senior level candidates in 2019?

In 2018 we did see a surge in opportunities for candidates in the 5-8 years PQE level, and I expect this to continue into 2019 across multinationals, start-ups and SME businesses.

AI (artificial intelligence) and technology will continue to dominate the shape of finance teams in 2019. With mid-senior level candidates being the main contenders for “value-add” activities, candidates will need to look beyond their traditional technical skills and focus on developing their softer skills such as communication skills, presentation skills, project management experience and the ability to interpret data.

And finally, what would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

As it happens I actually really like penguins! So I’d probably start crying for the poor penguin locked in the freezer!! ☹

Need help achieving your ambitions?

Are you a qualified accounting professional looking for help in achieving your ambitions? If so get in touch with Sarah at,  who is ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice along with cutting edge market insights.

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 and we will take it from there!

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