Siobhán Sexton ACA is a Senior Associate at Barden’s Accounting & Tax practice in Cork. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant and an expert in recently qualified accounting careers.
After completing a Bachelor of Business Studies, with a major in Accounting and Finance degree in University of Limerick, Siobhán went on to train as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG where she held the roles of Tax Consultant and Management Consultant.
She joined the Barden team in Dublin in 2017 after completing her training contract, took some time out in 2018 and 2019 to work and travel in Canada, South America and South-East Asia and returned to Ireland in early 2020 re-joining Barden in Cork.
We (virtually) met with her recently to find out a bit more about her…
Where are you from?
I’m from North Cork, just the right side of the Cork / Limerick border!!
Where did you study?
I completed my Bachelor of Business Studies in University of Limerick (UL), majoring in Accounting and Finance. I can’t believe it’s nearly 8 years since I graduated.
What did you enjoy most about your time studying?
I know I should probably say the opportunity to learn, but it had to be the people. UL is like its own bubble and we had the best time. I made some great friends, that I’m still friends with today. I have some great memories, I also got to do two J1s (in New York and Chicago) during my time there and that started my travel bug.
How old were you when you had your first paying job? And what was it?
Officially I was 15 (nearly 16) and got a job in my local Centra. I worked there for 6 years during weekends and holidays, during school and college.
Where did you work before joining Barden?
I completed my ACA training contract in KPMG Cork in the Tax department and for the last 10 months, I worked in the Management Consulting department in Dublin. I also did an 8 month placement during my degree in UL, in Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon, Dublin who are now RSM.
I really enjoyed my placement, it was a great experience and my first real work experience. I made some great friends there too (there’s a theme here!)
Is there an achievement that you are most proud of?
There’s a couple.. Obviously becoming a Qualified Chartered Accountant has to be up there, I worked hard on it and I’m really proud of it. Becoming a Qualified Accountant has definitely opened the door for me to many opportunities and continues to do so.
Another is making the move into recruitment; it was obviously a big jump but one that has definitely paid off. Barden took a chance on me and I took a chance on them and I haven’t looked back since thankfully.
Biting the bullet to go travelling and moving abroad would be the final thing. It helped improve me as a person and overall was an amazing experience!
What made you decide to move into the world of recruitment?
People! I always loved working with people, ever since working in Centra and on my J1s – constantly meeting different people as part of those jobs. Some might say I’m a bit of a talker… so to get paid to talk to people is amazing! And I also wanted to do something where I still put my ACA qualification to good use. I absolutely love what I do on a daily basis.
Why did you choose to work with Barden? What’s the best thing about working here?
The people! I always had a career in recruitment in my head. I randomly bumped into a friend on a night out who mentioned Barden. I met with the guys (Ed and Kate) and that was it.
The knowledge we have in Barden is one of a kind, as is the support from everyone. The way we do things is also very different – it’s always people first and jobs second. That’s what I love! And also, the calibre of the people I work with and the fact I get to learn from them every day is fantastic.
The fact I get to use my qualification in a different way and that in Barden we genuinely get to help people and help to change lives. That’s never something we take for granted.
What does your role in Barden involve?
My role is focused on helping recently qualified accountants in their careers up to 4 years’ post qualification experience (PQE).
I try to use my own background and qualification to understand each person’s preferences, and to help them find the right role and opportunity for them. I listen to what they want and help and support them in making the best decision for their future.
I also work closely with my clients and help them find the best person for their team and one that can help their business to grow.
You work directly with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Student Society (CASSI) and provide support to their members as part of the Barden & CASSI partnership. Can you tell us more about that?
This is something I really wanted to get involved in when I returned to Cork. Barden were one step ahead of me and when I got back from my travels as they had already established the partnership with CASSI.
CASSI were a great help to me when I was studying so to be able to work directly with them and to give something back is amazing.
We have done some webinars (16 now I think at this stage!), with more In the pipeline. I do 1:1 coaching sessions with trainee accountants on a daily basis helping them with advice on their CV, interview prep, LinkedIn skills and giving support about the best next step for their career.
I’ve also written some blogs, along with my colleagues, with some helpful tips and tricks for recently qualified accountants.
In 2018 you decided to travel. Tell us more about this.
I guess from doing my J1s I had the travel bug. I always had the desire to see as much as the world as possible, life is short, so I took off. At the start, I did a lot of weekend trips and in 2018 I made the difficult decision to leave Barden and moved to live and work in Toronto. It was one of the hardest but best decisions.
I got experience working in a much larger market (there are 9 million people in the greater Toronto area alone!). I met some amazing people and saw some beautiful places in Canada and America, especially west Canada…everyone should see it.
I then did 6 months in South East Asia and South America. I was very lucky I only missed 10 days out of my 2 year trip due to Covid – so no complaints here! I loved Laos, it was breath-taking and I really didn’t expect it. Brazil and Peru were amazing, especially Machu Picchu was breath-taking, there was something special about it but hard to pick one place out of everywhere.
I’ve 30 countries done and lots more to see!
Have you a favourite saying or quote?
I have a few but two of my favourites are…
“What’s for you, won’t pass you.” (I have it up on my wall here)
“Everything happens for a reason.”
I believe so much in both of these both professionally and personally.
Glass half full or half empty?
Half full – all the way! Obviously, there are moments when it can’t be the case, but it’s trying to remember to see the best in things when you can.
What’s your favourite sport/book/movie/song?
I love reading, it’s my escape. I go into my own world, it’s probably the only time I’m quiet!
“When All Is Said.” by Anne Griffin is my favourite book. It’s about love, loss and life.
My favourite movie is Grease.
I’m a massive fan of hurling and camogie. I played camogie from the age of 6 to 17/18 for my local team and again in Toronto.
Where in the world would you most like to visit?
New Zealand for a month is top of my list when things open up.
I also have a few days in Donegal booked for the summer which I’ll hopefully get to and am very excited about as I’ve never been!
And finally, who would win a fight between Spiderman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman, all the way!
Need help achieving your ambitions?
Are you an accounting or tax professional looking for help in achieving your ambitions? If so get in touch with Siobhán at firstname.lastname@example.org, who is ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice along with cutting edge market insights.