Ambition, personal growth and wellbeing to realise your career goals

Nicola joined EY in 2011 as an Audit Senior in Edinburgh for career progression and to work overseas with large clients. Eight years on, and with a secondment in Australia under her belt, she’s progressed to Senior Manager. Here’s her advice to succeed.


Nicola Buchanan

Be clear on your career objectives

“Six months after I joined I became Assistant Manager,” says Nicola, “I’ve always pushed myself and made it clear to my Partners what my ambitions are.”

When an opportunity arose for a client project in Melbourne, Nicola was encouraged to take the opportunity to realise her career aspirations, with the door always open for her to return to Edinburgh.

“It’s a big step to move across the world, but I felt reassured knowing I always had the option to return home to Scotland. The team in Central Scotland were fantastic, kept in touch with me the whole time I was in Melbourne – like one big family.”

Nicola’s determination to succeed saw her promoted again to Manager six months after arriving in Australia, “because I sought out opportunities to network, take on and deliver key projects, and understand our business," she continues. “I didn’t stop there. Your career is your own and you need to drive it. I worked on large listed companies, major transactions and helped set up a number of start-up client networks,”

Nicola was promoted to Senior Manager two years later, then returned to Edinburgh.

Keep learning and moving forward

For Nicola, the range of work and people she deals with at EY has been a great place for to her to grow: “I’m never bored. I learn from smart, driven people every day who bring the best out of me. Everyone gets involved to get the job done and takes the time to invest in you.”

“I came from a small firm, so the variety of people, teams, and clients is what really excites me here. I’ve worked with some of the most exciting businesses in Scotland, and experienced things I’ve never thought possible.”

Such as the Edinburgh office’s adoption of new technology, which automates repetitive tasks and allows Nicola and her team to focus on forging stronger relationships with clients.

“At EY, if you see a task that can be automated, you’re encouraged to do so.”

Take time to balance what’s important to you

Nicola has reaped the benefits of EY’s people-focused culture, particularly during and returning from maternity leave.

“I felt truly supported by my Partners when I came back wanting to work four days a week to spend more time with my family. They valued my time with my child and that in turn made me feel valued.”

While the idea of working flexibly can seem at odds with the long-hours sometimes required of the audit role, it requires balancing the client needs with the needs of the individual team members.

“If a client expects us on site during reporting season it can mean staying away from home. But as a team we support each other so we don’t miss our personal commitments. We’ve even trialed working fewer days on-site – many clients prefer it!”

It’s also the everyday things the team does to make sure its employees are as engaged as possible, from regular catch-ups to team outings and seasonal parties. “The team also check in with each other every day. It’s about mindfulness, well-being, and people here genuinely caring about you as a person.”

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