Tencil Talks: Louise Harrison

Louise Harrison is a Finance Manager looking after the Balance Sheet and Working Capital at BT.

BT have always been an organisation with purpose; to use the power of communications to make a better world.  You can trace this back to their beginning as pioneers of the world’s first telecommunications company.

Over the past 6 years, Louise has worked at KPMG and now BT, today we spoke with her on her career success to date.

Q. Talk us through your career success to date?

LH: Back when I wanted to go to University, I was fortunate enough to come across the KPMG School Leavers programme and even more fortunate to be offered a place on their 6-year course. In this course I studied for my Finance and Accounting degree and Chartered Accountancy alongside working in the audit sector for the South Coast. I worked on a range of clients in the retail, travel, education manufacturing, and PFI sectors.

What I really enjoyed about KPMG was the fact you were given responsibility straight away, you weren’t given the admin roles such as photocopying. When I left school I didn’t really know what opportunities and businesses were out there (other than one’s family friends worked in), the auditing industry gives you access to such a variety of businesses and by going into them for 1-8 weeks (depending on the size of the client and audit team) you get an idea of how the business works, what opportunities there are and what work environments suit you best.

I worked my way up from an audit assistant to an assistant manager before jumping ship into the industry. In between KPMG and BT I took a year off to go to a ski season and travel South America. That year of fun concluded on the day of lockdown when I started my current role at BT.

So far, I am really enjoying it. A lot of the skills I learned at KPMG and during my studies are directly transferable, but I also have a really supportive team that helps with anything I haven’t seen before. My main day to day job at the moment is understanding the values in the Balance Sheets of the 15 units I look after, challenging whether they are correct, looking at ways we can improve our working capital and tracking spend on different projects.

Q. How did your first professional role differ from your current role?

LH: There are two main differences between the two. Firstly, at KPMG the team I was working with and the location we were working at would change every 1-2 weeks, whereas at BT I have one main team and then refer to other people when I need certain information.

Secondly, at KPMG I was always just checking and recalculating other people’s work and stating if it was wrong or not, whereas at BT the work I do gets used to make improvements and I’m the one implementing the improvements so I can see the work is worthwhile.

Q. What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

LH: Gaining my Chartered Accountancy qualification for sure, I worked so hard and sacrificed so many weekends and social occasions for studying that I am so pleased it paid off.

Q. What excites you about your industry?

LH: The salary.

Jokes, at the end of the day, if a business doesn’t get its cash flow right it cannot operate effectively. So, I find it really interesting being part of the system behind ensuring enough cash is being invested for growth but that you have enough left to pay your debts.

Q. Do you think enough material exists to educate young adults about your industry?

LH: When I was at school, I didn’t feel that educated about it, I just knew I liked numbers and money but didn’t like words so thought maybe I should try accountancy. I think now a lot more businesses attend careers fairs and run apprenticeship programmes so it is easier to find out what a role in Finance can look like, but a platform like Tencil is definitely going to make it even easier.

Q. What is your favourite lunchtime spot and why?

LH: Packed lunch – save those pennies.

Finally, we would like to thank Louise for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us today.

If you are interested in hearing about opportunities that exist in accountancy, feel free to email Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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