If you’re an ambitious auditor working outside of the Big Four, there’s a new and innovative way you can take the next step in your career and join a top-tier firm. EY has just launched a bespoke programme which provides the opportunity for recently qualified, non-Big Four auditors to join EY as an Audit Senior.
Starting this autumn, the Elevate programme will run across 16 UK cities. New joiners will benefit from quality and in-depth training and development from day one, helping them to transition into a large professional services environment. “To support our innovation and growth, we're always looking to expand the mix of skills within our teams. It's exciting to launch this new programme, with structured support for our new joiners,” says EY’s Audit Partner - Head of Talent, Victoria Venning.
We caught up with Katie Dallimore-Fox, who joined EY in 2011 from a small-tier firm and has since progressed her career to become a Partner, based in Reading. Read on to hear her story and learn how her career has developed since joining.
Katie’s career journey
Having studied Economics at the University of Bath, Katie then moved to Hampshire to join a small-tier firm, where she was seconded into a corporate finance team. “It was quite a small team, but you could socialise and network. But after a pretty significant life event I realised that life is short, and I wanted to move on in my career. And that’s when I saw EY’s advert,” says Katie.
Katie was interviewed by Marcus Butler, an Audit Partner at EY, who she still considers one of her key mentors to this day. The interview gave her a sense of the culture at EY and how she was going to feel welcome at the firm. “Sponsorship is really important at EY. You’re not expected to know everything when you join, so having people that support you in navigating your network is helpful, so you know who to go to ask questions. For me this was Marcus when I joined and even now as I begin my journey as Audit Partner,” says Katie.
“Coming from a small-tier firm, I did have imposter syndrome at the start. I would think, ‘I’m about to join a Big 4 firm – am I going to feel like an outsider?’ But that quickly left when I began working with people on projects. There is an EY way of doing things, so coming from an outside firm I did have to learn and train on new processes and operational ways of running audits, but the support and training was always there to help me to succeed,” she adds.
Leaning into a big firm
Katie shadowed a qualified senior for six months after she joined EY, which gave her the confidence to ask questions, and bounce ideas off others. Katie’s biggest reflection from her early days at EY is that you need a lot of personal motivation to take advantage of the training, development, and processes of working on EY’s listed clients. Navigating a large firm like EY was quite challenging at the start, but there was always somewhere to go for help, she adds.
“Something that I never got to experience from a small-tier firm was auditing large clients or listed clients. So for me, the breadth of experience that you get when you join EY is incredible. There’s always an excitement I get from sitting in a boardroom or on an audit committee for those listed clients. And knowing what we get to deliver for these clients is motivating,” says Katie.
If you’re joining EY from a small-tier or mid-tier firm, be sure to take advantage of transferable skills, such as any experience you’ve had working across service lines in both Audit and Tax. “Lean into those strengths of having experienced any tax compliance work or working on audits that have only three people working on them. You’re showing how you can act in more managerial roles and have had exposure to a breadth of knowledge already,” says Katie.
Having commercial acumen has been crucial to Katie’s success since joining EY and it’s important for working in audit. “Expanding the levels of discussions that you have with your clients and your teams is something you’ll be doing when you join EY. Your network here will be there to support you. We have dedicated technical teams that massively help with questions on the audit process,” she says.
An evolving career in audit
From audit Senior, to Assistant Manager, Senior Manager, and now Audit Partner, Katie has had many different roles since joining EY Reading. And the level of responsibility changes fundamentally at each level. Something she loves doing is pitching to clients: being able to share her knowledge, solutions, and winning the trust of the client.
“As you progress sometimes it can feel overwhelming, but EY is proud to be a people firm, and there’s always a space to share knowledge and support one another. Something I love about EY is the recognition and championship we give to others as we celebrate successes. I’ve experienced this from my role as Senior right through to today, it’s something I’m passionate to take forward to my team as I take on my role as Partner,” says Katie.
Since Katie joined EY, regulations on audits have also changed many times. Both formal and informal training at EY helps everyone navigate regulator expectations and gives our people the tools they need to succeed in their roles. “I didn’t have any formal regulatory training prior to joining EY, but at EY we have technical training and auditor updates constantly to make sure we’re always updated with changes to regulations and expectations,” says Katie.
Advice for others
Katie has taken on lots of learnings since making the jump from a small-tier firm to EY. For those thinking about making the same next step, there’s three key pieces of advice she shares:
1. Play to your strengths: have confidence and remember you know how to audit. You’re just applying that knowledge into a slightly different methodology. Always remember that you’re qualified, and you have the experiences to show throughout the recruitment process and right through to when you join.
2. Self-belief: have belief in yourself and your own capability. If you try hard and put in the graft, success will come.
3. Lap up the opportunities that come your way: at EY there’s so many opportunities to learn, develop, and take part in client engagements. And have a growth mindset – it’s okay not to get it right first time as long as you’re learning. Take that leap of faith.
If Katie’s journey has inspired you, find out more about our Elevate programme today.