In the first interview in our Celebrating #WomenatMazars series, we spoke to Helen Parker, a Director in the Entrepreneurial Business team.
This week, we’re hearing from Charlotte Ward, an Assistant Manager in the Forensic and Investigation Services (FIS) team in Birmingham.
Hi Charlotte, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us about how you got started at Mazars and how this led to your current role?
I joined Mazars as an Audit graduate in September 2013 in the Birmingham office. Upon joining, I was offered a secondment to the FIS team for three months before returning to Audit in February 2014.
Whilst in Audit, I decided that I was better suited to FIS due to a wider variety of work, and I subsequently transferred back to FIS in July 2015. I was promoted to Assistant Manager last September.
Alongside my professional role, I am also the MYC Champion for the Birmingham office and the Vice Chair for a Birmingham young professionals networking organisation aimed at individuals just starting out in their career in the city.
What have been the enablers that have helped you get to where you are today?
Personally, the key enabler for me has been being part of a team where you are able to speak your mind and have your thoughts heard. When I was first looking at where I wanted to work, I always said that I wanted to go somewhere where I was valued as a person rather than just a number. Mazars has given me that voice and allowed me to not only develop my career internally at the firm but also to pursue opportunities externally such as with my involvement with the young professionals organisation.
What keeps you motivated?
For me, the key motivation is the pride of doing a good job and being able to deliver something which you are proud to put your name on. I absolutely hate the feeling associated with letting someone down or not delivering my best.
Over the course of your career, who have been the people that have mentored or sponsored you?
I have been really fortunate in my career to have had two amazing appraisal managers who have ensured that I have been able to develop by allowing me the opportunity to try new work, challenge me and push the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of doing.
Alongside the partner in my team, these individuals have always listened to me and allowed me to have a voice, so that most decisions are made collectively as a team and inclusive of everyone’s viewpoints.
What has been the most defining point in your career to date?
I think the most defining point for me would be my promotion to Assistant Manager last September. Before this point in my career when I was a graduate, each promotion was as a result of either exam passes or the time spent at the firm.
The promotion to Assistant Manager is the first point in my career where I’ve been promoted based on merit alone. When you’re promoted to this level, it’s based on the work you have done to date and, for me, it shows that the firm has recognised all the hard work I have put in.
How would others describe you at work?
I like to think I’m hardworking, determined and dedicated but despite all that I always try to remain positive and engaging. My team might also add loud and addicted to cake but who doesn’t like those emails?!
What advice would you give to other women for growing and progressing in the firm?
For me, personally, the key piece of advice I would give is you never know what you are capable of until you try. The pieces of work I have been most proud of in my time at Mazars are where I was thrown in the deep end to start with, not knowing whether I would be able to do it or not.
I had the belief of both the partner and manager in my team that I would, and was able to exceed my own expectations. The only barrier to developing your own career is by standing still; it’s only by going outside of your comfort zone that you can grow and progress which may seem daunting at first.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self? What would you do differently?
I’m a big believer in never regretting anything and looking back. However, the key thing I would say is never to take things too personally. I remember when I first started at the firm that I would take every criticism of my work as a criticism of me as a person, but in fact, it was simply a comment made to improve my work.
At the end of the day, decisions will be made and comments made in a work context which you may not agree with personally but are for the benefit of the business as a whole.
Finally, as it was International Women’s Day last week and 100 years of women’s suffrage, do you have any thoughts as to how everyone (society more broadly) can #PressforProgress to achieve gender parity?
Growing up, I was always taught that I could do anything I put my mind to. I think this is something everyone should aspire to in order to step out of the historic gender stereotypes. I really believe things are changing, but as with anything these things take time. Any role should be based on your experience and qualifications, regardless of your gender, age, race or any other category.
Make sure that you come back to the Mazars UK Blog each week to hear from more inspirational #WomenatMazars.