Name: Brenda Quinn
Job title: Property Finance Director
No. of years in the industry: 13 years
My role is very broad – it ranges from overseeing the entire Property Finance department to financing new & existing opportunities to tax planning to designing and delivering key reports to shareholders and everything in between.
I love being a key part in projects from inception to the final outcome. My passion is about a lot more than numbers. It’s about the why & the impact on the longer-term vision of the Group. I’m a solutions orientated person and so when all of that is in the mix, that’s when I’m at my best and that’s when work’s not work.
Has anyone not had to overcome challenges?
For me, starting out my career as a young single parent presented many hurdles. Being female didn’t help. I don’t think I fully understood what was happening at the time (I thought it was just me) but with hindsight, I realise that I’ve fully earned any stripes I have.
I remember at one point in particular, when I was ready to quit (something that is not in my nature) – only for my Mum, I would have, as I couldn’t see how I was ever going to make it. I was also my own worst enemy at times; in that I lacked self-belief and believe that anything less than 100% is not good enough.
Some might say, that I’ve overcome the former hurdle! But in all seriousness, that took a lot of inward assessment and discussion with those I hold closest to me. And still does to be fair.
I had decided whilst choosing A-level subjects that I’d be going down the Chartered Accountant route, so it was the usual Accountancy degree, followed by ICAI training & qualification with BDO Stoy Hayward in Belfast. I always knew I wanted to be in industry rather than practice, but in those days to be Chartered you had to train in practice. A year’s secondment to an engineering company during my training cemented that train of thought.
Very simply, believe in your own ability. And don’t be afraid to say that you are doing well to those who need to hear it. No need to boast but do get your point across. Also, don’t take criticism so personally! And speak up – being inquisitive and challenging and providing a different point of view is what makes businesses innovative.
In accountancy, there are a lot of women joining the ranks. That’s been the case even when I qualified 18 odd years ago. The problem is when it comes to career progression. We are still in a male dominated environment for various reasons. But I believe that this is changing – you only have to look around to see women in influential positions.
Progressive organisations are making step changes to adapt to major shifts in working patterns. It’s not all about women either. We see our new generations with different expectations than what we had and if we want to attract and retain brilliant people, we must get with the programme.
My advice to women is to put yourself out there. Now is the time for change.
Don’t wait for success as you define it, to just happen. Go get it. Don’t be afraid to fail but learn from those failures. Don’t focus on what you can’t do but rather on what you can do. We gain experience within & out of our working lives – women have such strength, determination and compassion – that is a deadly combination – use it!
Market research tells us that with the advent of new technology, our jobs are changing, with an emphasis on softer skills replacing the more traditional type work – this presents opportunity and I would encourage women to be ready for opportunity.
Find or be a mentor, if you can. It helps to be able to talk through ideas & concerns with someone with experience; so you know you or they are on the right path or just to obtain a different perspective. There are initiatives in NI & beyond that are targeted to giving women insight & networks into business that may otherwise not happen – though I believe that long term we should aim for such initiatives to be gender-less; for now, they have a worthwhile purpose.
Equality of pay.
Striking the right balance – we’re teetering on the brink of major change for women and about time, but we need to be careful that we don’t dis-empower women too – we can fight a lot of our own battles and don’t always need every comment made result in public condemnation and demanded changes to legislation.
The good work being done just gets lost in the minute. Work environments become sterile and everyone’s afraid to speak in case it doesn’t come out right – and ultimately that leads to a loss of innovation & productivity in the workplace.
Networking – the old boys network unfortunately is still alive – this presents a real obstacle to women in business.
Honestly, I don’t think so.
Nothing would be worse for my sense of accomplishment to think that I only got to where I did because the numbers had to be made up. Ultimately soul destroying.
I think that those in the driving seats now (who are mostly men) need to take note of the changing times and get ahead of the game. Most men I know, strongly feel that we should all be on a level playing field. The challenge is showing businesses how that is achieved and measuring the long-term benefits to the business v the short-term cost of changing who, where & when our workforce works. Technological advances have already paved the way for this – with flexible working (being able to work at any hour of the day or night to achieve set targets) and remote working being already possible and a reality.
Name: Jordan Daly
Job title: Aftercare Liaison Officer
No. of years in the industry: 6 years
Name: Catherine Winters
Job title: SHEQ Officer
No. of years in the industry: 1.5 years
Name: Suzanne McCabe
Job title: Project Manager
No. of years in the industry: 6 years
Following my GSCE’s, I completed my A Levels in Technology and Design, Politics, ICT and a BTEC in Construction. I then went on to do a Degree in Construction, Engineering and Management in the University of Ulster. I started my career as a junior estimator which gave me a solid understanding of contracts and commercials. I then moved from estimating into site engineering to give me the practical knowledge and understanding of the challenges involved in delivering a project on site.
Combining the commercial background with this practical experience then gave me a great foundation to begin my career in the field of project management.