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People skills as important as accounting qualifications in mergers & acquisitions Back  
Rosemary Heydon is director in the corporate finance department of accountancy firm Farrell Grant Sparks, and is also active in the establishment of the firms new wealth management department.
What is your educational background? I went to school in Kildare, attending Cross & Passion College, Kilcullen and then on to DCU where I completed a BA in Accounting & Finance and an MBS in Accounting.
Rosemary Heydon

What has been your career path to date? After college, I spent three and a half years with Arthur Andersen where I trained as a Chartered Accountant and Tax Consultant through their Tax Department, completing all necessary exams and gaining invaluable commercial experience.

Are your peers from similar backgrounds? While it is not necessary to have a formal accountancy training to work in Corporate Finance, I have found that most of my peers have come through that route. The mix of exams and commercial experience in completing the chartered accountancy qualification provides, I believe, a sound backing to move into many other aspects of business life apart from pure accounting.

What skills/aptitude would you identify as being key/beneficial to a career in your sector? While the common perception was that you had to be good at numbers and knowing your way around an Excel spreadsheet, I believe that without strong people and relationship skills, a career in corporate finance or wealth management can only be limited.

How would you compare career prospects internationally to those in Ireland? I think in the last 10 years the career prospects in Ireland have grown to be able to compete admirably with those internationally. I think experience gained abroad is a huge advantage here but there is also an increasing international aspect to many Irish financial jobs with monthly trips to the airport,
not unusual for most business people.

Have you undertaken any additional professional training since assuming your current role? Yes, I always liked studying for some strange reason and so like doing new courses. After completing the tax and accountancy exams I took a break before completing a diploma in Project Management a number of years ago. I think this is a valuable discipline for many busy accountants. I am currently completing the QFA exams through the Institute of Bankers and find this broader advisory course extremely interesting and useful everyday.

Have you worked abroad? If so where and what did you do? Would you do so again? I worked on a contract basis in Australia while I spent a year travelling the country, those contracts covered basic accountancy work as well as Fund Accounting, anything to fund the travels! I would not consider it a serious part of my career but it made me realise how well respected the Irish educational system and work ethic were overseas. I think I am too much of a home bird to do so again but I think there is a valuable experience to be gained at an early stage of a career, and the world is becoming a much smaller place in terms of travel and cross border deals.

What aspects of the job do you like most? I am a sociable person so like meeting clients and contacts and seeing where relationships can be built and developed.

What aspects of the job do you like least? Some of the administrative aspects can be tedious particularly with the increased regulation on the Wealth Management side. It is important to have the correct procedures in place from the beginning.

How do you define success in your sector? Having a strong and loyal client base who trust and respect your judgement and advice and therefore return to you for advice.

Is there anyone in particular you admire in your industry? I would not single out anybody but I admire those who work hard, are innovative and commercial and put their clients needs first.

What advice would you give to others who might like a career in your sector? Persevere, work hard and develop an interest in general business and financial markets to enable you to keep abreast of ongoing developments which is crucial

Typical day:
As I live in Naas, my day starts with the short commute to Heuston Station and quick walk from there to the office, I love this walk at both morning and evening to clear my head and plan what needs to be done during the day.

Depending on what projects are on at any time, my day usually includes client meetings, review of documents or legal/banking agreements and lots of phone calls. The development of the Wealth Management department leads to lots of interaction with our colleagues in Longford and Belfast through either conference calls or video link up and this helps to ensure consistent approach across the offices.

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