Hi Charlene, can you tell us about your career journey so far at Mazars?
I joined Mazars in 2010 as an Audit graduate in the Manchester office, obtaining my ACA in 2013. I have remained in Audit throughout my time at the firm progressing to Assistant Manager in 2014, Manager in 2015 and Senior Manager in 2016.
What has helped you to get to where you are today?
I would say a mixture of my focus, determination and resilience, the opportunities within the firm, and my support network both within the firm and externally.
I also think achieving a balance in life that works for me has kept my focus over the years. Regardless of how busy I get I still make time during the week to train and play netball and rugby, spend time with my friends, family, fiancé and cats, and read almost every evening – normally Harry Potter.
During your career, who have been the people that have mentored you?
There are too many to name, I think the right person to mentor you changes throughout your career.
Can you tell us about the most defining point in your career to date?
A short time after I became a Manager, a client of mine spoke with the Audit team to try to decipher my age. Her comments were that, “on the one hand Charlene looks very young but on the other hand she really knows her stuff, so I’ve come to the conclusion that she is actually old but looks young”.
Whilst I certainly took pleasure in her young comment, the real defining moment from that comment is I begun to accept that I could do this job, I do know my stuff and I am not an imposter (it is really common for both men and women to experience ‘imposter syndrome’ – I encourage you to Google it. It’s fascinating topic which I am sure if you speak amongst your teams almost all will admit to have experienced this at some point in their lives).
How do you think would others describe you at work?
This is an extremely difficult one so I asked for some input from colleagues with the following results: enthusiastic, driven, constructive, helpful, meticulous, technical, demanding, ambitious and practical.
I am motivated by being able to make a positive difference; to my clients, the team and the firm.
How have you overcome any gender-related roadblocks in your career?
Do not let the fact that you are a woman stand in the way of you achieving your goals. Acknowledge that there is still an issue in relation to gender disparity, not just within Mazars but society more broadly, but recognise this should not be a barrier for realising your full potential. Read up on the issue, discuss the issue and realise that you are always in a position in this firm where you can influence positive changes.
It sounds like a cliché but it is very important advice nonetheless – be true to and always be yourself – live by your own set of values and always know who you are.
Oh and read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’.
Finally, as a woman in a senior leadership position, do you have any final thoughts on how gender parity can be achieved?
I wish I had the answer, but I don’t think any one does – it is a complex issue that extends beyond gender to diversity more widely. I think society needs to continue to give these issues the attention they deserve and allow all to voice their thoughts and their ideas for progress and most importantly encourage action.