My journey from a Big 4, Newly Qualified Accountant to Recruitment in Barden…

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle!” – wise words from the late Steve jobs and words that resonated with me, a Big-4 recently qualified accountant (ACA), 6 months ago.

Many of you may relate to my position – a newly qualified accountant and at a crossroads in your career? Reluctant to waste your qualification and all the long years of study – yet want to try something a little bit different? Then, listen to my story – my transition from Niall the Accountant, to Niall the Barden advisory recruiter.

Crossroads in my Career

Where do I start? My training contract in Deloitte. Like any fresh-faced graduate in their fledging practice career, I was eager to learn and broaden my skillset throughout my 3 years there. However, I soon realised that my favourite aspect of the job was liaising with clients and colleagues and not the spreadsheets and the numbers! So I wondered – is there any way that I can match my passion for people with my accounting qualification and thoroughly enjoy what I do?! Impossible, right? I was at a crossroads in my career but resigned myself to the fact that this was a fanciful dream and that the best advice would be to follow the well-worn, safe path of becoming a financial accountant in industry.

Exploring the Barden Option

Barden to the rescue – well, kind of! Barden had come highly recommended to me as an advisory recruiter and an expert in the accounting and finance field. So I contacted one of the Barden team, Siobhan Sexton (ACA), to give me a steer on financial accounting roles in industry. I was blown away by the professionalism, level of detail and genuine interest which Siobhan showed in me – so much so that it got me curious.

Could I see myself enjoying what Siobhan is doing in Barden? Yes. Was Siobhan a qualified accountant who moved into recruitment? Yes. Is this too good an opportunity not to explore? Yes. So, what did I do? I disregarded all of Siobhan’s excellent information and advice on financial accounting roles and asked her to give me a steer on recruitment in Barden instead!

A few more coffees with the leadership team in Barden and I was in! Finished my contract with Deloitte the last week of October 2021 and commenced my journey with Barden as a Recruiter the following week!


So how has it been, you may ask? Over 6 months later, I could not be happier! It has been a complete rewiring of my brain moving from interpreting numbers to analysing people’s career situations and adding value to their lives through expert advice. It helps that I work the recently qualified market – I have been in your shoes and know what it feels like to be at that aforementioned crossroads in one’s accounting career.

I actually wake up looking forward to work every morning, which is unusual for most people I know! No more Sunday night fear! Every day is different but I centre myself in the fact that each day, I am helping people – whether that be advising on potential roles, the market, interview preparation tips, salary negotiation, handing in one’s notice and a plethora of other weird and wonderful requests.

Not only have I become a trusted advisor but a friend to many. One person even confided – “I need you like I need my hairdresser, solicitor, plumber, etc – I never realised the importance of a career advisor until now!”. Most newly qualified accountants make 2-3 career moves in their first 5 years out of practice. Fact. So it is nice to hear that the people that I have helped are happy to reach out whenever they are looking to move again or even just to shoot the breeze on the market.

I still have so much to learn. But the mentorship and training which I am getting here at Barden is top class and fun! The first 6 months flew by – I am excited for what the next 6 months will bring!

How to Join Barden

As a wise mentor once advised me – “Opportunities don’t happen – you create them!”

If curious about a career with Barden, get in touch with me at and I will be happy to provide a steer.

Just like Siobhan did for me. A little bit of reciprocation goes a long way. You may even get a new passion and career out of it! Easy.

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