Name: Claire O’Connell

     Position: Special Projects Administrator/Trainee Company Secretary

     Date joined: January 2019

     BDO Corporate Secretarial (“Co-Sec”) Department


What do we do?

The Co-Sec Department are champions for compliance. We endeavour to ensure adherence by our clients to the regulations of the Companies Act 2014, the regulations of their own respective company constitutions, and the regulations of the law in general. But we are so much more than that.

Corporate Governance sets out the rules and regulations which companies must follow to be legally compliant. Our growing and dynamic team in the Co-Sec Department want to see our clients and their companies thrive and be successful in their respective sectors.  We work with our clients to create bespoke packages to enable them to achieve their full potential.

What was your pathway to becoming a trainee Co-Sec?

I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and then worked for several years as an Event Planner with a popular tourist attraction and events venue, before accepting an administrator position with a Third-Party Corporate Services Provider in the city centre. I joined BDO’s Co-Sec Department in January 2019, initially as a Special Projects Administrator, before accepting a dual role and becoming a Special Projects Administrator/Trainee Company Secretary in January 2020. Not the most straightforward of journeys but one that I am very thankful to be on!

What is life like as a trainee Co-Sec here at BDO?

Every day is different. Trainees at BDO assist with a busy and demanding portfolio of clients, providing advice and help across all areas of Corporate Governance, from incorporation (establishment) of a company, to the winding up of a company, and all of the steps and processes in between. Being part of our team means that you are prepared to provide clients with thorough and dedicated advice in order to enable them to meet any and all legal obligations. It’s about being available to explain the necessary processes to help clients to achieve their goals. You need to be ready, willing and able, and always finding a way to help. Members of our dedicated team are approachable and friendly, innovative and excellent at reaching resolutions, and continuously striving to provide clients with the optimum levels of service.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Having spent time working in different industries after college, the move to BDO has made me realise that I have finally found a job and a career path that is the right fit. What I enjoy about the job is that every day is different – you need to be ready for the unexpected, and to throw the ‘to-do’ list out the proverbial window in order to assist a client with an urgent request.  I enjoy getting to build and foster relationships with my clients and going above and beyond to help them out and working together to find solutions. I enjoy being part of a team who communicates and works well together, always eager to lend a hand to ensure that nobody feels overwhelmed with their workload. Our team has a good work life balance with many social events and team bonding activities. We recently did an escape room, which was great fun. I also enjoy taking part in the many BDO firmwide events.

I am currently in Year 2 of an MSc in Management and Corporate Governance through Ulster University, which will (hopefully) provide me with a qualification from the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland (CGI) at the end of this year. BDO is very accommodating to those of us working full-time and studying part-time, giving us study leave for lectures, exams and assignment preparation, which is greatly appreciated. It is great to work for a Company that is so understanding and supportive of career progression and goals.

What advice would you give to students looking to start their career in corporate secretarial?

Continuous professional development in this area is of the utmost importance, so with this in mind, I would recommend looking for a company that offers career progression, like BDO.  Since I started with BDO, I have had many conversations with management about how the company can assist me with my professional goals. These conversations make me feel like they care about my professional success, and that I am a valued member of the team.

I would also advise students that your pathway to Co-Sec doesn’t have to be direct, and your undergraduate degree doesn’t have to be specific – take me for example! All that is required is hard work, an eagerness to learn and a determination to succeed.

What’s next for you?

I am hoping to obtain my ICSA qualification this year, and then progress to Year 3 of my Masters, which will give me the MSC qualification, and a few letters after my name! Once qualified, my hope is to continue developing my skills and deepening my knowledge, to continue to be a valued member of the team and a high-performing Co-Sec.

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