08 Mar 2018
To mark International Women’s Day Thursday, March 8th Brightwater is celebrating inspirational women. We are championing women who are leaders in their field and make a difference in their community. In this profile we are highlighting Shauna Greely, Finance Business Partner at Ulster Bank and President of Chartered Accountants Ireland as an inspirational woman.
Q – What is your current role?
A – For my day job, I am a Finance Business Partner, working in Ulster Bank. I am also involved in voluntary activities outside work and am currently President of Chartered Accountants Ireland.
Q – What are your qualifications?
A – I am an FCA, having qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1995. I also have a BBS from Trinity College Dublin.
Q – What do you love about your current role?
A – Variety and challenge! No two days are the same. I am proud to work for Ulster Bank where there is a huge focus on customer services and advocacy – I can see that we are trying to change banking for the better and ensure that we give customers the products they actually want. It is positive to work for an organisation which is trying to make change for the better and to be part of that. And to be employed by an organisation that believes in giving back and allowing their employees the time to carry out voluntary activities such as my Presidency of Chartered Accountants Ireland. I am very fortunate that Ulster Bank is very supportive of me in relation to this, particularly on the many occasions that Chartered Accountants Ireland meetings and commitments eat into my work day.
Being President of Chartered Accountants Ireland also offers great variety and challenge. I am fortunate that some of my ideas to further support members have been implemented in the past year. One that I am particularly proud of is the Chartered Accountants Ireland programme to support female members who have taken career breaks and wish to re enter the work place. CAI runs workshops to prepare these members. The focus of the workshops is on interview skills, application process, LinkedIn etc. This is in addition to separate technology refresher programmes that are run.
Q – What would be your greatest career achievement to date?
A – In 130 years, I am only the second female to hold the position of President of Chartered Accountants Ireland; the last was in the 1983, so it is quite an achievement and a huge honour.
Q – What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed within the workplace?
A – Have belief in yourself and take all opportunities that present themselves or volunteer for projects, to be on internal work committees, to take responsibility for a team activity. Each different opportunity helps build skills and experience and importantly your profile in an organisation.
Q – What do you think are the challenges facing women in the accountancy sector today?
A – In the 1950’s when our only other female President qualified, less than 1% of our members were female. We have come a long way. Now 40% of Chartered Accountant members are female and on average 50% of our student intake each year are female. It is an attractive profession for females and offers opportunity and huge variety of roles. But with any professional career, having work life balance is a challenge. Females can achieve this by being focused and organised during the working day. All challenge brings opportunity. For Chartered Accountants, there is huge demand for our skills across all sectors and many roles. So for females, this allows them to have options, with part time working offered by some employers, remote working offered by many and the option to take a career break and know that when the time is right to re enter the work force, that your skills and experience will still be in demand.
Q – From your experience to date what have you learned about being in a Leadership role?
A – The importance of having strong communication skills. Building relationships with others is hugely important, whether they work on your team or you deal with them indirectly and communicating regularly.
Q – From your experience to date what have you learned about mentoring others?
A – I always get a lot from mentoring others. I find it hugely interesting to hear about what other people are working. I have mentored both male and female colleagues. With female colleagues, I believe that building confidence is hugely important as many females do not rate themselves or value their contribution enough.
Shauna Greely – Finance Business Partner, Ulster Bank & President of Chartered Accountants Ireland