After graduating from the University of Aberdeen in 2005 with a first-class honours degree in Accountancy, I started as an associate at Deloitte which allowed me to complete my chartered accountancy (CA) qualification and exposed me to a number of different sectors, including oil and gas.
I always felt drawn towards the industry which led to me joining Triton Group Holdings in 2009 as Corporate Group Accountant before it merged to become Forum Energy Technologies in August 2010.
There were two very different career paths open to me: to remain in audit practice with Deloitte or go into industry. My role at Deloitte, whilst completing my exams, gave me a great base to gain different sector experience to learn from as well as travel across the UK and internationally.
The deciding factor was ownership: I wanted to be responsible for my own figures and have the opportunity to build a team, which oil and gas offered me. At Forum, I led a team of 54 people based internationally in Houston, Canada, Singapore, Germany, the UK, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
It’s about being responsive to the business and its needs; whether that’s completing a cashflow projection, analysing how the company has performed financially that week or month, responding to fellow directors and investors or managing our statutory obligations in an efficient manner; all of this requires to be completed without any disruption to the operations of the business.
With operations throughout the UK, I travel to all our divisions every month to liaise with key members of the finance team and the managing directors. The senior leadership team meets monthly and we have bi-monthly board meetings. There are regular updates on items such as our newly-opened facility in North Tyneside or ensuring we are maximising ROI given we’ve invested heavily in new machinery and equipment in recent months.
I have a strong character, a determination to succeed, am very organised and I’m extremely hard working. In addition, I am a strong leader, who can build and manage teams effectively.
Developing others has always been far more important to me than any personal achievements. I really enjoy seeing people advance regardless of their age, gender or background: all I ask of my team is that they aim to be the best they can be.
Whilst at Forum, I benefited from a promotion almost every year (seven different roles in nine years, plus having two children). This allowed me to gain a huge breadth of experience and also allowed me to work with a number of very different people, which was fantastic.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
In 2018, I was named as one of the Top 100 Young Chartered Accountants by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS). This meant a great deal as I was nominated by a colleague and fellow CA.
During the early stages of my career, I always aspired to become CFO of a company. At the time, I didn’t know how I was going to get there; however, it was an ambition I fulfilled when I joined Pryme Group in May 2018.
What challenges have you had to face in your career?
Although most top positions across the industry are predominantly held by men, I have never been treated any differently as a woman and have always felt like an equal. That’s not to say we don’t need to do more to encourage more women into the industry. For example, whilst at Forum, I helped launch the Women’s Initiative Network in the international locations. This was a great forum for women within the organisation to support one another and is still running today.
The greatest challenge has to be being a working parent, especially since I have spent large parts of my career trying to juggle the demands of raising a young family with extensive work and travel commitments. Having worked internationally throughout my career, it’s a welcome change to be closer to home since I’m primarily based at the company’s Ellon office.
What would be your advice for other women looking to get into the industry?
I have two pieces of advice. The first is mentorship: I think there’s a lot to be said for watching and learning from people who have been there and done it already. People can sometimes be afraid to ask for help but if you build rapport with a senior colleague, more often than not, they will be flattered to be asked for advice. I was fortunate to have a boss, James Harris, CFO at Forum, who mentored me, and it was helpful to have someone to look up to and to see how he successfully managed a team.
Secondly, never turn down an opportunity and listen to others offering advice. It doesn’t mean that you have to follow the advice given, but it gives you a chance to consider alternative options.
Like any other sector, oil and gas has its share of ups and downs; however, I would encourage anyone to join what is a unique and fascinating industry. I was fortunate to have already qualified when I first entered the industry but there are so many other routes available now to allow you to gain qualifications while being supported by your employer.
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