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How I Made It

Lesley Fox: Mazars Partner in Audit and Assurance How I Made It

Lesley Fox: Mazars Partner in Audit and Assurance
It started with work experience

Lesley Fox has worked her way up the ranks at top professional services firm Mazars to become a Partner in their Audit and Assurance service line. So how did she make it? She tells us all about her training experiences, career progression and bringing new graduates up through the ranks to manage alongside her.


How did you get into accounting and start your career at Mazars?

For some strange reason since the later stages of secondary school I wanted to be an accountant!  When in the Sixth Form, I wrote to local accountancy practices to see if I could get some experience during the school holidays.

Luckily a small firm took me in and I worked for them during each holiday for a couple of years.  This was great experience - lots of handwritten records, invoices, and numerous bank statements brought in ’brown papers bags’,  and I had to piece together the accounts.  I enjoyed the challenge and problem solving, plus it helped that I was good at number puzzles!

I was also privileged to gain experience from a few client meetings.  I researched the different type of accountancy firms whilst at university in terms of size and services offered and decided to get experience at Neville Russell (now Mazars) and KPMG.

I managed to secure work experience at both, which meant I could decide which type of firm suited me.  I enjoyed both, but I liked the more personal nature of Mazars and from the tasks I was allocated I realised I would be given much more responsibility at Mazars during the early stages of my training.

I worked with Mazars in the summer holiday in my second year at university. It seemed to go well and so I started my final year with a potential ACA training contract in the bag.  That was a good feeling.  I also looked at and secured an offer from Grant Thornton, but Mazars was the firm for me.  I started my training contract in 1991 and haven't looked back since.

How did you find out about Mazars and why did you choose them?

The telephone directory - it makes me feel very old but there weren't websites in those days!  How times have changed!

How did your training at Mazars help to prepare you for your career journey through to becoming a Partner?

I thoroughly enjoyed my training at Mazars.  The annual residential courses were challenging, but also a great deal of fun.  The fact that you have a peer group of fellow trainees around the country allows you to feel part of a wider team in addition to your team in the office and business unit. 

The on-the-job training provides a wide range of experience working with many different seniors and managers.  I think this is important as you learn different things from different people. 

The exam training provided at FT Kaplan is superb.  After my ACA exams I was also given the opportunity to take the Institute of Tax exams.  This gave me an excellent understanding of tax which remains useful, but ultimately I decided that Assurance was the service line I wanted to concentrate on.

Tell me about the variety of work you’ve done, and the most important responsibility you have been entrusted with?

One of the benefits of working at Mazars is that you work with a wide range of clients.  I work with people who are just setting up in business and I work with UK and international companies that are large and established in their markets.  Therefore the needs of the businesses and companies are varied.  I have also had the opportunity to develop our work with Higher Education Institutions.  This has allowed me, along with others, to develop a new area of specialism within the firm.

Apart from the responsibility of signing audit reports on behalf of the firm, I think the most important responsibility I have been entrusted with is that of the training and development of my team.  I gain huge satisfaction with seeing my team developing in their roles from when they start as a graduate.  I have people working closely with me as Managers and Senior Managers that I recruited into the firm and I need to ensure they continue to have challenging and rewarding roles.

What’s the benefit of staying with Mazars in the long term?

From a personal point of view it is great to work with people you know and trust.  Through developing your career within the firm, you know and understand where the firm is heading and your part in making that happen.

It has also been interesting to see the firm develop from a predominately UK based firm to the international partnership it now is.  This has been an exciting journey.  The continued development of the international partnership will provide more and more opportunities both to service our clients as they expand around the globe and also for our team.

What advice would you give to anyone starting at Mazars to ensure they have a successful long term career

Take every opportunity that comes your way and ask to be involved.  Since I joined the firm there are so many more opportunities to experience work in a variety of service lines both in the UK and abroad. 

What do you most enjoy about your role as a Partner at Mazars?

I enjoy working with a great team of people and a great portfolio of clients equally.  No two days are the same.  Yes, it is demanding but it is also challenging and rewarding.  When I interview our potential graduates and I ask them what they want to get out of their career with Mazars, they often say that they want to continue to learn and develop their skills.  This is certainly something that continues to be part of my role each day.  The needs of clients change and I am required to be proactive in ensuring we meet their needs.

Want to find out more about graduate opportunities at Mazars? Click here!

 

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