ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.
Your current browser is not capable of using this site without JavaScript. Please use an updated browser or enable JavaScript to continue.

My experience: Dan O'Brian

Dan works as a Senior Finance Analyst on the Formula One Power Unit programme for Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.

Dan O'Brian

Dan O'Brian Senior Finance Analyst

ICAEW route: Graduate

Industry: Audit and assurance, Advisory

Location: United Kingdom

Dan's story

Tell us about your career journey and what you do day-to-day in your role. 

In my current role I work as a Senior Finance Analyst on the Formula One Power Unit programme for Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (“HPP”). At HPP we design, develop and manufacture Power Units for our Formula One and Formula E team’s and customers, and also act as an R&D arm of Daimler; delivering projects such as the Project one hypercar and EQXX all electric concept vehicle. In my role our team is responsible for providing financial planning and analysis on our Power Unit development to ensure that we maximise our budget to help deliver on track. 

I first came to HPP on their Student placement programme back in 2015 when Lewis Hamilton won his third world championship, and after completing my 13 month scheme I was invited back as a Graduate. I have been fortunate enough to have been here for another 5 championships since then and have worked in a number of roles within finance, including 18 months as the Business partner for our Formula E all electric Power Unit. Since then I have moved into a permanent role as our Operations Business partner and then moved into our Formula One team last year.  

To describe a typical day at HPP is extremely difficult as the nature of our business means that our role is constantly evolving and adapting to the challenges faced by our Engineers. I would say that it is rare two days are the same and this has kept me on my toes since the day I came back on the graduate. 

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

The ACA qualification is seen as the benchmark for finance professionals and I can see the benefits of studying in work every day. As well as the technical knowledge gained through exams, the ACA helps to push your development in your role by giving you a structure for rounded skill development through both its professional development ladders and ethics seminars. 
Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

I always enjoyed business studies and in particular the analytical nature of the accounting modules I did, this lead me to studying Finance at university and then joining HPP on the Finance Graduate scheme. 

Do you think there is such a thing as a stereotypical accountant? If so, how do you challenge this stereotype?

I think there is but I can honestly say I’ve never met one! We have quite a young team at HPP and that’s helped us in coming up with new ideas and keeping things fresh. 

I think the days of sitting at your desk all day as an accountant are long gone, especially in my role, being business facing and building relationships with various stakeholders is instrumental in doing our job successfully.   

What advise would you give to aspiring accountants? 

Do as much as you can whenever chances come to you, if someone needs help with something or an opportunity to learn presents itself be the first to put your hand up, even if that’s not within the realm of accounting. I have learnt a lot from sitting and understanding how Engineers and project managers work as much as I have shadowing Finance professionals. 

What do you love the most about what you do and why? 

I have always loved sport and being able to combine that with business working as part of a huge team that has one main goal every weekend has been extremely rewarding, I don’t think there are many places like it!