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Top Young CAs 2019: where are they now?

This article was first published in CA magazine. You can read the original version here.

After a search across the world of finance, business and beyond, and a vigorous judging process, the 2020 class of ICAS Top 100 Young CAs will be revealed in September. As we prepare to celebrate the rising stars of the profession, all 35 and under and excelling in their respective fields, Claire Bloomfield visits three of the Top Young CAs of 2019 to learn more about their career paths and to find out where they are now.

Jamie Dale CA, Head of Cabinet, Department for International Development, Sudan

“In my role as Head of Cabinet, I work as the head of corporate compliance in Sudan. This involves making sure that we’re delivering aid in the best way possible, but most importantly, that we are doing it correctly.

“I moved to Sudan in October 2018, right at the start of the revolution, so it was a culture shock arriving from Glasgow. We were evacuated twice, we witnessed President Omar al-Bashir being overthrown and the installation of the new government. So, it has been a challenging but incredible experience.

“And because we’re working with local staff, you see what people here go through, and you learn about their hopes for where the country will go. We do all that from an aid perspective, but they live it.

“Actually, being here as part of the team responsible for working with the partners, meeting with the Sudan government and the Foreign Office, seeing the people on the ground and meeting beneficiaries is amazing. I haven’t experienced anything else in my career that could live up to that.

“I really enjoyed my ICAS training, and I often think back to my last exam. It covered everything from management accounting,
internal audit to decision making. It set me up in the job I’m doing now because, as the Head of Cabinet, you don’t just deal with risk or finance, you deal with everything.”

Shahbaz Mirza CA, Associate Director, Digital Transformation, Campbell Dallas, Glasgow

“I’m responsible for making sure that our client services, our people and our technology are aligned for the future and where they need to be in the next five years. We’re focusing on digitalising the services that we provide to clients, so that involves looking at the software that’s available to help to give them a more digital experience.

“At the same time, my role as Director of Digital Transformation at Campbell Dallas is also about upskilling all of our staff on the use of these new tools, so they feel that they are staying on top of the technology rather than being dragged along by it.

“ICAS training provides you with intangible skills and that has proved really helpful to me throughout my career. It gives you the ability to analyse a lot of information from an industry you’re completely unfamiliar with, draw out the key points and then articulate an argument for a strategy or an implementation roadmap to move forward.

“There is also an element of prestige about being a CA and I have seen the effects of that in practice when working abroad. People recognise the qualification and the letters after your name, and that is worth its weight in gold, particularly if you have any ambitions to work internationally.”

People recognise the CA qualification, and that is worth its weight in gold, particularly if you have any ambitions to work internationally

SHAHBAZ MIRZA CA

Tom Warwick CA, Senior Business Manager, (Major Events), The Football Association, London

“I joined the Football Association in June 2017. I’m currently working on the delivery and management of the UEFA European Championships [Euro 2020] taking place here this summer and the UEFA Women’s European Championships held next year. It includes tasks such as programme plans, budgets, risk registers and contingency plans. Selling 700,000 tickets for the women’s tournament in 2021 is also currently within my remit.

“I’ve been involved in major event planning for the last 10 years. I’m very passionate about sport – and not just football, but all sport – and my job allows me to combine business and pleasure. I loved my experience working across the London 2012 Olympics so much that I didn’t want it to stop. So I went to Rio de Janeiro for four years to work on the 2016 edition of the games there, too.

“Regardless of whether we’re talking about an accountancy problem, or one related to women’s football, the steps you follow are the same. It’s those foundations that ICAS allows you to learn, practise and experience.

“ICAS also provides you with an opportunity to create a network, right through from college training to going on to work within a firm. That network is invaluable as you move up through your career. I regularly keep in contact with people, either on a business level or as friends.”