My Story | Reylene O’Brien
My Story | Reylene O’Brien
Reylene O’Brien discusses her role as Corporate Finance Trainee, what she enjoys about the role, life at BDO and her top tips for exams.
Position: Corporate Finance Trainee
Date Joined: December 2019
Your journey to your current role
My route into accountancy and Corporate Finance was somewhat unconventional! I had always been torn between accountancy and veterinary, and I originally opted for veterinary. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine in UCD and worked for ten years as a small animal veterinary surgeon. In 2018, I decided to change careers and began studying towards the ACCA qualification. I was halfway through these exams when I joined BDO, having just achieved first place worldwide in the Audit and Assurance exam. I attained ACCA affiliate status in April of this year and was awarded a bronze medal. I am now looking forward to full ACCA membership on completion of my practical experience requirement later this year.
What you enjoy about the role
I enjoy the array of work and the challenge of solving difficult cases in veterinary and I was drawn to Corporate Finance due to its similarities. Each day in work is very different, my role offers such a variety of work, from mergers and acquisitions through to financing proposals and litigation support.
Each engagement is unique, I enjoy exploring the distinct nature of each business and transaction, learning about each sector/company and working together with the team to take logical yet innovative problem-solving approaches to each assignment.
Our Corporate Finance team focuses on public sector and healthcare transactions, and often undertakes large transactions involving complex financial modelling and information processing. Corporate Finance is a client-facing role which also involves collaboration with other professionals (for example, tax and legal advisors) as well as clients. It is great to get so much exposure to the clients at such an early stage in my career, I appreciate being given the opportunity to develop strong working relationships with the wider team.
Life at BDO
On joining BDO, I could see that I had joined a firm where teamwork and inclusiveness really are core cultural elements, with every team member’s input and insights being valued, including in my case those of a first-year trainee with no corporate finance experience! Colleagues, managers and Partners alike, are all generous with their time to mentor and guide new trainees.
BDO has encouraged and supported me throughout my study, understanding the challenges of working and studying concurrently as well as providing substantial study leave. As someone who enjoys continuously developing my knowledge and skillset, I very much appreciate that BDO continues to encourage my professional development beyond these exams, actively supporting my ambitions to further my skills in areas such as data analytics and data visualisation and facilitating such development opportunities.
I thoroughly enjoy life at BDO, I am delighted to have found both a career that is the right fit for me along with having an inspiring team that I feel privileged to work alongside. Work at BDO does not feel like ‘work’ in the traditional sense of the word, as I enjoy each new opportunity and challenge that Corporate Finance holds, and I look forward to what each new day will bring.
Tips for exams
For anyone seeking advice on exams, particularly those juggling a busy career with study, I would say that good preparation is vital as “success occurs where opportunity meets preparation”. Zig Ziglar
Three key tips that I would give.
1. Organisation and time management
Being organised and managing your time well is critical. Maximising your use of available resources can help, for example, videos and podcasts which you can listen to while walking or travelling to/from work. Even a small step such as this will help to consolidate your knowledge when you have a limited window of time.
2. Practice makes perfect
Practice as many questions (including past exam questions) as possible is fundamental. As you get closer to the exam date, ensure that you are answering these questions under timed conditions as this will help you to hone your answering technique. Exams are time-pressured, and answers must therefore be concise yet comprehensive to ensure that you showcase your knowledge. Practice will help you to avoid spending too much time answering one question without leaving sufficient time for another question.
3. Understand the exams format
Make sure that you know the format of the exams (number of questions, marks per question etc) and particularly if you are sitting a computer-based exam, ensure that you are very familiar with the system being used (for example, how to maximise your display of multiple windows, be aware of any differences in formulae in this system versus Excel).
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